Although the summer holidays are in full swing many of our schools are a hive of activity as building improvements are taking place across the city. With many of the schools being empty for six weeks it’s an ideal time for the council to carry out important refurbishment works.
Many people may be surprised to know that we do this every summer but this year our programme of works is significantly larger as a direct result of our budget decision earlier in the year to invest in the council estate.
Despite challenging financial times for local government finances our decision in February to agree to invest £119 million over five years in upgrading our school estate is a sign of our determination to improve the quality of our buildings.
More than 50 schools and nurseries in our estate are currently undergoing planned maintenance ranging from upgrading windows and refurbishing toilets to replacing lighting, repairing ceilings and installing new boilers. Work will also take place over the summer to complete 11 rising rolls extensions before the start of the new school year to accommodate extra pupils. In addition, more early years buildings are being provided across the city to meet the planned 1140 hours a year entitlement to early learning and childcare for all three and four-year-olds and vulnerable two-year-olds.
For some schools these summer works mark the start of a major programme to address backlog maintenance requirements identified through condition surveys carried out across the estate.
We have commissioned major improvement programmes for more than 20 schools, including all those currently identified as condition C. In many of these schools work will continue throughout the school year including evenings and weekends. We are working closely with everyone to ensure these projects can take place with minimal disruption to the day-to-day running of the affected schools.
As a council we are committed to delivering for all our children and families in Edinburgh by improving their lives and futures by creating a first-class education estate. Upgrading and improving our schools is a priority for the council over the next few years. Our 52 commitments include building two new secondary schools and ten new primaries by 2021 and ensuring safe standards are met by rigorous inspections of new and existing school buildings.
I firmly believe this proactive approach and targeted investment will ensure future generations of school children will reap the benefits in years to come.
Councillor Alasdair Rankin is finance and resources convener at Edinburgh City Council