Holyrood plea on shoddy schools

26th May 2000 at 01:00
LOCAL authorities want the Government to take a radical new look at the way money is invested in school buildings.

A survey for the Parliament's education committee says that at "a conservative estimate" it will take pound;1.3 billion to clear the backlog of repairs and maintenance. This compares with pound;1 billion when the Government took office and would take 30 years to achieve on current spending levels.

The Association of Directors of Education and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, which compiled the report, suggest the time has come to look at capital requirements of all public services on an area-by-area basis rather than for each service in isolation.

"We don't ant this to be seen as a whinge," David Henderson, head of policy development for Cosla, told The TES Scotland. "We are only too well aware of the demands pressing in on other services. What we need to do is sit down and look at the needs of schools in the 21st century, including information and communications technology."

The report is wary of endorsing a further expansion of privately funded projects through public- private partnerships (PPPs), largely because these are limited to a 25-year time-span and are not suitable for small-scale refurbishment, particularly in primary schools. Larger PPP projects based on the suggested "area needs" approach would be more feasible.

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