Thousands of extra pupils will need to be taught in Scotland’s secondary schools by 2021, exposing critical shortages in classroom capacity, new analysis warns.
In Tayside and Fife alone, there will be 2,000 more children entering the secondary system than in 2016, according to a study of Scottish Government figures.
The spike feeds through from increases at primary level earlier in the decade, which has been attributed to fluctuating birth rates and new housing developments.
Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott said it is “extraordinary that no one apparently saw the consequences of this and did not plan for enough classrooms”.
“The future of a young person’s education cannot be compromised by these obvious problems and parents will expect immediate action,” he added.
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The Scape Group, a public sector procurement specialist, said there would be there will be an additional 13,600 secondary school pupils, a 4.8% increase on current numbers.
There will need to be the equivalent of 453 extra classrooms or 13 new schools to accommodate them, they added.
Mark Robinson, from the Scape Group, said: “The issue of school places delivery is likely to be exacerbated in the coming years if we do not think and act more creatively now.”
Councils in Tayside and Fife insist they are well-prepared for the increases in the secondary roll.
Peter McNaughton, head of education at Fife Council, said guaranteeing school places is a “major priority”.
“The number of secondary school pupils in Fife is expected to increase over the next few years,” he said.
“The increase is something we are aware of and planning for.”
A spokesman for Angus Council said they have more up-to-date figures which show the increase is not as stark.
“We are prepared for the increase in the secondary school roll,” he said.
“The council undertakes regular long-range forecasting of school rolls for planning purposes.
“There is sufficient capacity across the secondary learning estate to accommodate these pupils.”
A Perth and Kinross Council spokeswoman pointed out the figures do not take account of spare capacity in their existing secondary estate.
“We use a range of information and analysis to understand the evolving requirements for our school estate, to meet the needs of all current and future learners,” she said.
A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “The council carefully monitors pupil rolls and forecasts.
“A report on the service estate which considers details on school buildings is considered annually by the children and families service committee.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Working with local councils since 2009 we will deliver 117 new school projects, benefitting 60,000 pupils, by March 2020, and we will look to build on that progress, investing a further £1 billion to rebuild and refurbish our schools.”