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Teachers are fighting for funds to strengthen dilapidated classrooms in England Education

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When it rains, students at Wales High School in South Yorkshire know that when moving around a building, watch out for a lot of obstacles – buckets, lots of buckets.

“On a rainy day, you can usually see a dozen buckets around the school,” said principal Pepe Diasio. “There is nothing you can do in the long run. We just patch up the roof and do everything we can. We have flat roofs, asbestos everywhere and an old energy system that uses a lot. We have a building that we heat every day, and the heating comes straight from the roof. ”

Inspectors told him that his school in Kivetan Park, near Rotherham, is among the 200 lowest in the state. However, since only 50 schools are accepted to participate in the state’s school renovation plan each year, most will have to wait.

“Given the increase in energy costs at the moment, this is another year when energy costs have risen by more than 100% and students are in inadequate buildings,” Di’Azio said.

When Labor MP from Central York Rachel Muskell visited a local wonderful school, she was surprised that she was shown. Education at the Roman Catholic School of All Saints is highly valued, but Muskell had no doubt that it was not an environment for learning.

The first day of the semester for 7th graders in Wales High School near Rotherham in 2021.
The first day of the semester for 7th graders in Wales High School near Rotherham in 2021. Photo: Christopher Thomand / The Observer

“Music is playing in an old aviation hangar, which is cold or hot in summer,” she said. “You have a gym where your feet go across the floor. There are problems with water ingress. It’s a place with a fantastic history, but for a modern school it doesn’t serve that purpose. “

The school is also among those who have applied for funding. However, although a few lucky ones will be successful, it is now clear that both teachers across the country and Whitehall activists believe that much more money is needed.

Indicators in the field of education track the problems with the large reduction in budgets of school buildings back in 2010.

“When I took office 13 years ago, we had real problems,” said Paul Gosling, principal of Exeter Road Primary School in Exmouth, Devon. “We had a pitched roof and water was running down three walls of the classroom when it was raining.

“It was a harmful condition, there were pieces of asbestos in some places, which made it difficult to do any work. The whole roof needed to be replaced. For this we were given a price of £ 700,000. We used to have around £ 45,000 of capital, but in 2010 it was cut. Our £ 45,000 has dropped to £ 7,000 – I told my governor that we have to save for 100 years and then we can make a roof. ”

When water began to flow down the electric boxes and the school turned to a local deputy for help, it was allocated funds for restoration work, which was completed last year. But as secretary of the regional branch of the National Teachers Association, he knows of many other schools that have been unlucky.

“One school has three temporary classes that are rotting and falling apart and not suitable for 21st century education. There are about 300 schools in Devon. In two years, we were just one of four schools that received such a large investment. There is no way that a pooling system can meet the needs we have. There are a lot of schools that are really falling into disrepair. ”

Rebuilt primary school Exeter Road in Exmouth.  Work began after water began to flow down the electrical boxes.
Rebuilt primary school Exeter Road in Exmouth. Work began after water began to flow down the electrical boxes. Photo: handouts

The bill for school renovations is certainly growing. Last year official audit found that schools in England are facing a repair bill of more than £ 11 billion, almost double the previous estimates.

Several teachers also drew attention to the ineffectiveness of the existing repair funding system. Schools often spent money on patching up their buildings, shortly before they were finally allocated funding to renovate. They said schools need to be notified in advance of funding for awards.

Muskell said she knows other schools in her district face problems similar to All Saints. She also said that the increase in energy costs makes the situation even more urgent.

“Many have old heating systems. As the cost of living rises, you end up heating up York – and you’ll pay for it.

“All Saints is a fantastic school. He is doing great and has a reputation for caring and supporting his students. Just think, if it also had a decent school environment, what else could be achieved here, ”Maskel said.

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