Aberdeen will need 47 new classrooms in the next 18 months – Rumbles

A study carried out by the Scape Group has revealed that Aberdeen City will have 1,400 additional secondary pupils by 2020/21, a 17.5 percent increase requiring 47 new classrooms. By far the largest share increase of any local authority area in Scotland.


Commenting on the findings, North East Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles said: “The number of children in super-size classrooms has ballooned under the SNP Government and local authorities, particularly in the North East, have been starved of the resources they need to invest in teachers and our education service.


“The Scottish Government has made a rod for its own back through years of mismanagement. It should not surprise anyone that, after warning ministers for years that more needed to be invested in our education system, our schools are now reaching a tipping point.


“The First Minister has repeatedly said that education is her parties number one priority but the facts speak for themselves. Larger class sizes and fewer teachers make it harder to close the attainment gap. Teachers have less time for individual pupils and less time for children that need a little extra help to catch up.”



Notes for editors:



453 new secondary school classrooms urgently required in Scotland by 2020/21


  • Scotland will see more than 13,600 additional pupils enter the secondary school system by 2020/2021.
  • 453 new secondary school classroom or 13 new schools are needed  to meet demand
  • Aberdeen City Council will experience the largest increase in secondary school pupils in the next two years


An additional 13,600 pupils will join Scotland’s school system by 2020/2021, as revealed in the latest research by Scape Group, the public sector procurement specialist. To meet this demand, Scotland will need  to build 453 additional secondary school classrooms across the country or 13 new secondary schools.


Scape’s report, The School Places Challenge 2019, examines the challenge facing the UK’s school system using Department of Education and devolved authority data. The report reveals that Scotland’s school-aged population is set to increase by 4.8 per cent over the next two years.


Of all the Scottish local authorities, Aberdeen City Council will experience the biggest increase in secondary school pupils in the next two years – with an additional 1,400 pupils (a 17.5 per cent increase), equating to the need for an additional 47 classrooms.


Edinburgh City Council will need an additional 47 secondary school classrooms as pupil numbers will climb by 7.5 per cent by 2020/21. The council has agreed a £1bn package of spending as part of a four-year Change Strategy. This includes a £66.7m investment in new and  refurbished primary or secondary schools to help meet current need. 

However, with 19,700 fewer primary school pupils in Scotland by 2020/21, there is no requirement for new primary schools.


Education and training in Scotland are devolved to Scottish Parliament, with Holyrood providing funding to local authorities across the country. The Scottish government’s Schools for Future Programme, which began in 2009, is investing more than £1bn into the delivery of 117 new schools to help meet the growing demand for secondary school places in Scotland.


Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive, comments: “Scotland needs to build hundreds of school classrooms in a short timeframe, and local authorities across the country continue to feel the strain. We must collectively focus on delivering a strategy and solutions which not only provide high-quality, modern spaces for teaching and learning, but also offer our colleagues in local authorities cost certainty, value for money and timely delivery.


“The issue of school places delivery is likely to be exacerbated in the coming years if we do not think and act more creatively now. Good schools are the bedrock of our society, and there can be no room for error.


“With demand continuing to grow, it is vital that we focus on solutions that will allow us to create additional school places quickly and resourcefully, without compromising on quality. Offsite technology is one answer. Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) not only enable quick construction, but can also cost local authorities significantly less. Until the government takes more pragmatic action, they cannot claim to be safeguarding the futures of young people.”


Scape Group’s recommendations on how to tackle the School Places Challenge


  1. The adoption of offsite construction as the main method of building for all new schools and extensions would ensure that they are built faster than traditional methods. If modular can grow in scale, building schools will become more efficient and cost-effective.


  1. A fairer education funding model for local authorities, which ensures that they can work with central government to set budgets that reflect local need. In particular, local authorities should play a part in judging and approving free school proposals to make sure that new schools are established where they are most needed.


  1. Greater collaboration between councils and developers to ensure that secondary schools are built in major urban extensions and developments first, through agreements between developers seeking planning permission and the local planning authority (Section 106 agreements).   



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