Our schools are crumbling.
The autumn term is in full swing, yet many schools are still partially or fully closed due to crumbling school buildings.
In May, the Department for Education (DfE) said 572 schools suspected their buildings contained Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) and that it would investigate these sites by December.
Later, it said there were 8,600 schools which might have RAAC that had not been investigated.
We know that RAAC is just the tip of the iceberg – for one thing, schools constructed with RAAC were often also built using asbestos.
The truth is, there are thousands of crumbling schools, and the problem isn’t just crumbling concrete.
In June, the National Audit Office (NAO) said:
“Following years of underinvestment, the [school] estate’s overall condition is declining and around 700,000 pupils are learning in a school that the responsible body or DfE believes needs major rebuilding or refurbishment... the DfE currently lacks comprehensive information on the extent and severity of these safety issues, which would allow it to develop a longer-term plan to address them.”
The Office of Government Property has calculated that to maintain the school estate in line with best practice, the Government should be spending £7bn a year. The Government is currently spending just a third of this amount.
This cannot continue. The safety of our children and school staff must be a top priority.
We demand that this Government:
- Invests at least an extra £4.4bn every year to upgrade school buildings, bringing the total annual spend to the recommended £7bn.
- Publishes the full list of schools suspected of containing RAAC but awaiting further investigation, and schools that might have RAAC but have not been investigated.
- Guarantees additional funding to schools having to make alternative arrangements to open fully and continue to educate our children.
Our profession and our children deserve better.