'Ping-pong' numbers game demolished in school buildings debate

16th October 2009 at 01:00
Rhona Brankin: 150,000 pupils were languishing in sub-standard schools, thanks to the SNP

"It is about time that we stopped trading statistics on school buildings on a ping-pong basis," said Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for education, in June.

However, at last week's school buildings debate at Holyrood, she failed to heed her own advice - as did everyone else.

According to Rhona Brankin, Labour's education spokesperson, 150,000 pupils were languishing in sub-standard schools, thanks to the SNP.

"Only 14 schools (to be built) in two and a half years - about one school every two months - is a record to be ashamed of," she said.

Only 55 would be built by the Government by 2018, Ms Brankin concluded.

However, according to Ms Hyslop, since 2007 more than 100,000 pupils had been lifted out of schools in poor condition and 236 schools had been built or refurbished. This compared favourably with the previous administration, she claimed, which delivered 205 in four years - or 0.76 schools per week over eight years, compared to the SNP's 1.2.

Further, pound;2 billion had been invested in schools from 2007-12, argued Ms Hyslop, with an additional pound;1.25bn for 55 schools, the first 14 of which were announced last month.

Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, Margaret Smith, criticised the use of statistics, then spouted some of her own: the number of schools that needed replaced was 832; the number that would be built, thanks to the Government alone was 14.

DID YOU KNOW?

528 schools have been built and refurbished over the past decade, 216 of them under PPP.

There were 79 more schools in good condition in 2009 than in 2005, and 153 fewer schools in bad condition. However, 24 per cent of schools remain in a poor or bad condition.

In 2008, the SNP estimated 250 schools would be complete or under construction by April 2011. To date, 207 have been completed and an unknown number are under construction.

In June, the Scottish Government announced plans to provide funding for 55 new schools, worth pound;1.25 billion of which pound;800m would be provided by the Government and the rest by local authorities. The first of the new schools, 14 secondaries, are expected to open by 2013. The announcement of which primary schools are to be included will come later this year, and the first of these will open in 2011. Source: Scottish Parliament Information Centre.

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