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Learning Estate

Learning Estate

Supporting and managing investment in Scotland’s learning estate

It has been well documented that primary and secondary school education is fundamental to ensuring positive long-term outcomes for young people, where well-designed buildings and quality surroundings have a significant role to play that improves pupils’ attendance, concentration as well as motivation and self-esteem.

To help local authorities provide the best teaching and learning environments within available budgets, our Learning Estate team manages a number of interrelated and innovative education infrastructure programmes.

This work is creating and delivering world-class, award-winning environments that not only meet future educational needs but maximises the use of buildings to ensure communities benefit as well.

Our work is primarily focused on the following programmes: 

Supported by an innovative outcomes-based funding approach which we developed on behalf of Scottish Government and COSLA, in 2019, Scottish Government launched the £2bn Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP) aimed at helping improve the condition of school buildings across the whole of Scotland.

The first phase comprised of 12 projects, with a second phase announced in December 2020, comprising 25 projects. In October 2023, Phase 3 was announced with 10 new schools taking the programme total to 47.

The investment programme is jointly funded by Scottish Government and local authorities through the use of an innovative outcomes-based funding model, whereby projects must achieve outcomes in relation to the ongoing good condition of facilities, energy efficiency, digital connectivity, economic growth and embodied carbon.

This approach aligns with the principles of the Learning Estate Strategy and Scottish Government’s Infrastructure Investment Plan and our own corporate priorities of:

  • Enabling the transition to net zero emissions
  • Driving inclusive economic growth
  • Building resilient and sustainable places

The first school opened in 2022 with many more pupils and staff to benefit from the investment from 2023 onwards.

We are continuing our role as programme managers for LEIP and will continue to work with Scottish Government, local authorities and the design and construction communities to drive the successful delivery of the programme.

In 2015, Scottish Government announced plans to nearly double the number of hours of free pre-school education to 1,140.

Since 2016, we have been working with Scottish Government and all local authorities to support the development of local Early Learning and Childcare expansion plans delivered through a mixture of refurbished and extended buildings.

We have created short video case studies to reflect the achievements of some local authorities outlining the significant infrastructure investment this expansion programme has already delivered. Facilities such as these across Scotland will play a vital role in providing essential ELC services for parents and carers to return to work.

We have worked with every local authority across Scotland to deliver Scottish Government’s £1.8bn Scotland's Schools for the Future programme.

Our role has been to efficiently manage the programme to help local authorities achieve the very best value from their investment in new schools. This has been achieved through a process of developing, demonstrating, disseminating and the sharing best practice from across the programme.

When the programme was launched in 2009 it was valued at £1.25bn and was planned to deliver 55 new or refurbished schools.

Through collaborative working and by carefully managing the programme and its budget, we increased that number to 67 – 12 extra schools from the same budget.

Building on that success, Scottish Government increased the number of schools to 112, taking the value of the programme to £1.8bn.

And from us further managing the programme, Scottish Government announced details of five additional schools which would be funded from the existing £1.8bn budget, taking the total number of schools in the programme to 117 schools.

In April 2021, the 117th and last school in the programme opened - Lossiemouth High School in Moray. 

Our team


Stephen Long

Senior Associate Director

Stephen is an architect who worked in both design and construction prior to joining SFT. Seeing things from a variety of viewpoints helps him to appreciate and communicate the opportunities and challenges within a programme or project and assist in developing holistic solutions. 


Seonaid Crosby

Associate Director

Seonaid is a Chartered Accountant and currently leads on the financial, risk and programme aspects of the Learning Estate Investment Programme.

She has a keen interest in working collaboratively across stakeholders to create linkages and foster optimum solutions, as well as developing innovative finance solutions for the delivery of public sector infrastructure such as the outcomes based funding model currently in use across the Learning Estate Investment Programme.


Steven Anderson

Associate Director

Steven joined our Learning Estate Infrastructure team having previously worked as an architect in private practice.

As a former client, consultant and contractor on large-scale public projects, he brings his rounded knowledge in school design and procurement to the team providing additional technical expertise and a design focus to the development of education facilities across the country.

Steven collaborates across the SFT workstreams developing our joined-up approach to the delivery of our Learning Estate Investment Programme.


Sarah Burnett

Programme Analytics and Reporting Manager

Sarah is the Programme Analytics and Reporting Manager within the Education team. Sarah provides analytical support for both the ELC and Schools' programmes.

Prior to SFT, Sarah was a Subject Matter Expert in the finance sector and a SAP Coordinator within the oil and gas industry. Sarah has a BA/Hons in Business Management and a MSc in Project Management.


Jillian Horner

Finance and Programme Manager

Jillian is a Chartered Accountant and provides financial support and advice for programmes under the remit of the Learning Estate Team. She joined after working as a Business Manager in Primary Schools across Scotland. The experience developed a motivation to make the best use of learning environments and create spaces that can help all pupils excel in education.

She has a background in Financial Business Partnering in Industry and enjoys working cross-functionally on projects to provide innovative solutions.