One in ten Scots pupils is being taught in schools which are deemed to be in “poor or bad” condition, with Nicola Sturgeon facing accusations of trying to “spin” the figures.
More than 280 schools have been categorised as “sub-par” environments, according to official Scottish school estate statistics published yesterday.
It came as Ms Sturgeon and John Swinney unveiled details of the firwst schools to benefit from a £1 billion schools rebuilding and refurbishment programme that was announced last year.
Opponents fear the state of the buildings could undermine the Government’s efforts to tackle the attainment gap between poor and affluent areas.
“It’s alarming to see that 70,000 Scottish pupils are being taught in schools that have been graded poor quality or bad working environments,” said Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Beatrice Wishart.
“It’s disgraceful that the condition of our schools could distract from learning and prove unpleasant workplaces for teachers.
“The First Minster thinks this is great progress, but we don’t have a hope of properly tackling the attainment gap if tens of thousands of pupils are being taught in sub-par environments.”
In the report published yesterday, poor is defined as “showing major defects and/or not operating adequately”. Bad is defined as “economic life expired and/or risk of failure”. A total of 284 Scottish schools fall into these categories, according to the report covering 70,852.
The survey also reveals the method of defining a school’s condition has changed this year and warns against “comparing the 2019 figures with previous years”.
However, the Government said yesterday the number of schools in good or satisfactory condition “has increased to 88.3 per cent” (86.6 per cent in 2018).
“This is substantially higher than in April 2007 (61.1 per cent).”
Ms Sturgeon even claimed “great progress” is being made. The First Minister insisted the statistics show “Scotland’s school estate has never been in better condition, with a record percentage in good or satisfactory condition”.
Labour education spokesman Iain Gray hit out, saying: “The First Minister and her Government have been caught out making dodgy comparisons against the advice of their own officials. Instead of spin, the SNP should be focused on fixing the problems they continue to create in Scottish education.”