A review of East Lothian’s learning estate will be carried out shortly to ensure that the county has buildings and facilities which are fit for the future.
East Lothian is one of Scotland’s fastest growing areas and the Council has a statutory duty to provide adequate and efficient provision of school education. It is essential that East Lothian’s learning estate delivers maximum educational benefits for children and young people across the county.
As required by the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010, the Council will be engaging with school communities in advance of the review to gather and share information, before formulating formal proposals for the future shape of East Lothian’s learning estate.
A report presented to this week’s meeting of East Lothian Council highlighted that the pre-consultation process will give families and members of local communities an opportunity to have their say on future priorities.
The first stage of this process will be ‘pre-consultation’, beginning in early 2021, which will see the launch of an online questionnaire. Pre-consultation can play an important part in information gathering and sharing in advance of a statutory consultation.
It is an initial opportunity to listen to stakeholders, to hear views on their priorities and consider this alongside the information we hold on building capacity/roll pressures, condition, suitability and access of current builds.
Developing a Learning Estate Investment Plan
The pre-consultation process will help East Lothian Council develop its Learning Estate Investment Plan. This will ultimately set out a series of proposals for improvements across the county, identifying where investment is required such as the upgrading of existing buildings and the construction of new schools and education facilities. It will also consider whether any adjustments are needed to local catchment areas to reflect growth and development of new housing in the area.
While it is too early to say what formal proposals will emerge, this process will help us shape future plans in order to seek funding support from the Scottish Government.
External funding is likely to be required in order to deliver the required improvements/construction of any new schools.
Councillor Shamin Akhtar, Cabinet Spokesperson for Education and Children’s Services, said: “While many pupils in East Lothian have benefitted from improvements to the existing school estate in recent years such as the new Wallyford Primary School and extensions to buildings such as Dunbar Grammar School and Law Primary School, we recognise there is more work to do.“Some of our school buildings are getting older, which means improvements will be required to some existing buildings to ensure we continue to provide the best possible setting for learning and teaching.
“With East Lothian being one of Scotland’s fastest growing areas, it’s essential that we ensure our learning estate meets the future needs of existing, expanding and new school communities.
“We need to identify which existing school buildings require expansion or, in some cases, where new facilities might need to be built.
“I look forward to the start of the pre-consultation on this in 2021 and would encourage all parents and carers, as well as everyone from our communities with a current or future interest, to participate.”
All parent/carers and members of the local community will be invited to participate in both pre and formal consultation. Workshops are likely to take place and all those with an interest are invited to attend. It is likely that many of these will need to take place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.