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School buildings

Local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure the adequate and efficient provision of school education in their area. In that context, they may undertake reorganisation of their school estate at any time.

Improving school buildings

The £1.8 billion 'Schools for the future' programme means that a total of 117 schools will be constructed or refurbished by March 2020. We provide £1.13 billion with local authorities contributing £665 million. Funding is distributed through the Scottish Futures Trust which works with local authorities to gain best value.

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School closures/changes to the school estate

School closures (or rationalisations), amalgamations or altering catchment areas can be prompted by many factors such as changing population patterns and the need to provide suitable school buildings for pupils and teachers.

If a local authority proposes to change any part of the existing education provision in its area then it must engage in a formal consultation process under the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010. All major changes which affect schools are subject to clear consultation with parents, pupils and communities.

Local authority consultation process

We produce guidance on the consultation process:

A local authority must provide financial information in the proposal paper it prepares for any school closure consultation. Local authorities are strongly recommended to use the financial template which has been developed for this purpose.

Scottish Ministers 'call in' process: make a representation to ministers

Scottish Ministers have the power to 'call in' a local authority decision to close a school. After the local authority has taken its decision, there is a three week period, which begins on the date the decision is made, for anyone to make representations to ministers requesting the case to be called in or not called in.

You can make a representation in relation to ministerial call in for schools. This is the direct route to have your views taken into account during ministers' consideration of school closure cases.


School Infrastructure Unit
Learning Directorate
Area 2B North Scottish Government
Victoria Quay

There is then a further five week period for ministers to reach a decision on whether or not to call in the case. Ministers can only call in a decision if there is strong evidence of either:

  • the local authority failing to comply in a significant way with the requirements set out in the Act, or
  • the local authority failing to take proper account of a material consideration relevant to its decision

Once ministers have decided whether to call in a closure proposal or not, they write to the local authority setting out their decision and a copy of the letter is published on this site.

For further information see: details of ministerial decisions on school closure proposals

School Closure Review Panels

If ministers decide that a case should be called in, it is referred to the School Closure Review Panels for review of the proposal and to reach a decision. The SCRP may:

  • grant consent to the proposal, with or without conditions
  • refuse consent to the proposal and remit it back to the education authority for a fresh decision
  • refuse the proposal

Rural schools

The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 also made special provisions for rural schools.

We maintain a rural school list, setting out every school in Scotland that is designated as a rural school. This list is periodically updated. This followed a review of how the list was compiled in order to address a small number of anomalies, as recommended by the Commission on the Delivery of Rural Education.

For further information see: rural school list

Archived school buildings content prior to 2018 is available on the archive.