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The government has been urged to act as nine out of 10 schools in England are in need of repair schools


Teachers have said the government urgently needs to tackle dilapidated school buildings in England, as figures show nine out of 10 schools have at least one part of the building in need of repair or replacement.

The National Education Union, which represents more than half a million teachers, said it was “shocking” that of the 20,000 school buildings inspected between 2017 and 2019, a total of 19,442 had at least one building component that had “serious defects” or was “does not work as intended”.

The union added that the £1 billion the government is investing in what it described as a “state-of-the-art” refurbishment of 61 schools was a “drop in the bucket”.

Analysis by the Lib Dems also found that more than 5% of building components such as roofs, windows, doors, electrical and light fittings across all school estates in England – 240,000 items – were found to be faulty, giving it a rating of ‘poor “. or “bad” surveyors.

Officials have estimated that carrying out all the necessary repairs will cost £11.4 billion.

Durham City was the constituency with the highest percentage of school building components – almost 12% – rated as poor or poor.

Dr Mary Boustead, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said 90% of school buildings in England were in need of major repairs, a “shocking fact”. Photo: David Sillitoe/The Guardian

In the South West Norfolk constituency of Liz Truss, the Conservative Party leader candidate and Foreign Secretary, more than 91% of schools had at least one building component rated ‘poor’ ie. with serious defects. Fourteen schools had at least one component rated as poor, requiring immediate replacement.

In Richmond, North Yorkshire, the constituency of Truss rival Rishi Sunak, 91% of schools had at least one ‘poor’ rating. At the same time, 21 schools contained at least one building component with a “poor” rating.

The figures were released by the Department for Education in response to a parliamentary question asked by Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Munira Wilson.

Dr Mary Boustead, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said 90% of school buildings in England needed major repairs as a “shocking fact”.

She said: “All children deserve to learn in quality, safe and comfortable buildings. But in 2022-23, capital funding is £1.9 billion less per year in real terms than it was in the last years of the Labor government.

“Capital spending was the biggest cut to education and was put in place right after the 2010 election. A further £2 billion would have been spent on school and college buildings if the government had not cut Labour’s school refurbishment programme.

“The Government’s recent announcement that £1bn will be invested in refurbishing or refurbishing 61 schools is a drop in the bucket.

“The government needs to show much more ambition and urgently address these issues strategically to demonstrate that they really believe in investing in the future of our pupils.”

Munira Wilson MP said: “These shocking statistics show that the Conservatives have neglected our school buildings for far too long.

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“When Liz Truss was in the Treasury, dozens of schools in her own constituency needed urgent repairs and before Rishi Sunak left the chancellorship, the government cut this year’s school maintenance budget in real terms.

“Liberal Democrats believe that education is an investment in the future of our children. Instead of arguing about the past, Conservative leadership candidates should explain how they will protect schools from skyrocketing electricity bills this winter.”

A Department for Education spokesman said the figures were not new, adding: “The safety of pupils and staff is of the utmost importance. We have one of the largest and most comprehensive condition data collection programs in Europe and this helps us to assess and manage risks in the estate.

“Buildings where there is a risk to health and safety will always be a priority and since 2015 we have committed more than £13 billion to improve the condition of school buildings and facilities, including £1.8 billion this financial year. Also, our new School reconstruction program will transform the learning environment in 500 schools over the next decade, prioritizing schools in poor condition or with potential safety issues.’

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