Fife school replacement projects in limbo after region misses out on funding
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After months of delay, the latest phase of the £2 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP) was announced. Ten local authorities are to be awarded funding as part of its third £450-500 million phase, but Fife has been left out in the cold.
Conservative councillor Kathleen Leslie, the education scrutiny committee convener, was “extremely disappointed” by the news.
Holyrood’s £2 billion LEIP programme - a joint programme with COSLA - was designed to build new, modern, state of the art facilities across Scotland.
The first phase of funding was announced in September 2019. At that time, Fife received money for Woodmill and St Columba’s High School replacements.
Inverkeithing High School replacement project was selected for LEIP 2 investment in 2020, but the Kingdom has missed the boat during the third phase.
The council submitted a bid for Glenrothes and Glenwood High Schools' replacement project, but was unsuccessful. Without the funding, Cllr Leslie said the project’s future is uncertain.
“A replacement Glenrothes High School and Glenwood High School had been hoped for and was part of the bid. Now though that is not going to happen and that is also going to have a knock on effect elsewhere,” she said.
Although both are first in line, Balwearie High School in Kirkcaldy is also in need of replacement in the near future.
“With no money from the Scottish Government for the Glenrothes schools, where is the money to be found also now for Balwearie from within the Council?” Cllr Leslie asked. "I find it absolutely shocking that some of our young people are still not to benefit from a new school learning environment and are supposed to remain in buildings which have concerns around accessibility and condition.”
She continued: “The amount of money this SNP Government has wasted on ridiculous projects that have gone nowhere such as the ferries is staggering and yet there is no money for new schools here in Fife. It is quite simply an absolute disgrace."
However, Scottish Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth – MSP for Glenrothes – celebrated the latest round of LEIP funding.
“I am determined to deliver excellence and equity across Scotland’s schools, and ensuring that pupils are educated in modern, state of the art facilities is an important part of that,” she said in a press statement. “This latest phase of the £2 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme will continue to support local authorities to deliver improvements in our school estate, and ensures continued progress in ASN provision in particular.”
Ms Gilruth highlighted that with the latest round of investments announced, every Scottish local authority which has submitted a bid has now received funding for a project in at least one of the three LEIP phases.
“As a direct result of Scottish Government investment, the proportion of schools in “good” or “satisfactory” condition has increased from 61% in April 2007 to 90.7% in April 2023 and this investment will build on this remarkable progress,” she said. “We will continue working with COSLA to explore how we can deliver further improvements in the school estate, as well as ensuring provision in those areas experiencing population growth.”