I know that local authorities are keen to get clarity on phase 3 of the learning estate investment programme. I recently visited the Perth high school and Dunfermline learning campus projects, and I very much recognise the difference that LEIP projects will make to local areas.
In March, Scottish Government officials wrote to all local authorities to explain that consideration of the projects that will form part of phase 3 was still on-going. That correspondence set out that further time was necessary to consider the scope of phase 3 and to take account of the impact of market volatility on current projects.
However, I am committed to announcing the successful phase 3 projects before the end of this parliamentary session.
It is clear that Parliament needs to see details of phase 3 of the learning estate investment programme, which is now overdue. Too many schools across Scotland are currently in desperate need of upgrading.
As the cabinet secretary will be aware, it has been estimated that it could cost up to £160 million to rectify Renfrewshire Council’s monumental error in the calculation of the school roll for the new Dargavel primary school in Bishopton. Indeed, in answer to my colleague Neil Bibby, the First Minister said that the cabinet secretary would enter into discussions with Renfrewshire Council to try to resolve the situation and to avoid any detriment to the learning resource that is available to the council. Can she confirm whether those discussions have taken place? Can she assure members that there will be no detriment to the learning estate investment fund allocations to Renfrewshire in order to resolve the error, given the need for new schools across the local authority area?
Mr O’Kane might not be aware that his colleague Neil Bibby raised that issue yesterday during the debate on the national discussion, and that I committed to meeting him and parents in relation to the school that Mr O’Kane mentioned. I know that officials are already engaging with the local authority, and I intend to do the same imminently.
I wish to put on the record the fact that, since the Scottish National Party came to power, we have invested significantly in our school estate. When the SNP first came to power back in 2007, only 61 per cent of our schools were in good or satisfactory condition; today, that figure is more than 90 per cent. That is real progress under this Government. There is undoubtedly more that we will need to do, and I look forward to working with Paul O’Kane to drive the improvements that are needed across our school estate.