A significant number of schools in the UK need structural repairs, as a survey has revealed nearly half of teachers believe the buildings are ‘not fit for purpose’.
This is according to teaching union NEU, which found 47 per cent of members think their school or college building is in need of repair. Nearly two-thirds blamed funding cuts for the problem, with many schools being unable to pay for maintenance, leaving the building to fall apart over the years.
Even more worrying, more than a fifth (21 per cent) said some or all of the building they work in has had to be closed over the past five years because of disrepair.
The same proportion thought the poor state of their school building means it has become an unsafe environment for both pupils and members of staff.
Joint general secretary of the NEU Kevin Courtney said: “It is simply not good enough that for so many children and staff, leaking ceilings and rotting windows and crumbling walls are their daily environment.”
Nearly three-quarters complained that the classrooms were too hot or too cold, which is not surprising given that 26 per cent claimed their school or college was delaying turning on the heating despite the cold weather.
The survey also found 44 per cent of teachers had seen leaking ceilings or roofs in their building; 31 per cent had witnessed crumbling, or holes in, walls; 21 per cent knew their school had damp; 31 per cent were aware of poor ventilation; 17 per cent reported electrical problems; and 19 per cent said the heaters or boiler were faulty.
Mr Courtney added: “This disastrous trajectory of decay has gone on long enough. Promises, and not just empty ones, need to be made by political parties as to how this will be resolved. We look forward to hearing serious commitments from each of the political parties, so that voters can make an informed decision. If you value education, you must vote for education.”
However, the government’s spending review from September revealed it intends to reduce the school buildings fund by £500 million next year.
This is despite more than a third (35 per cent) of teachers confirming that the condition of their school or college’s building, facilities and maintenance has changed over the last four years, mostly for the worse. Indeed, only 13 per cent claimed an improvement had been made since 2015.
According to the Treasury’s 2019 document, it pledged to boost school funding by £7.1 billion by 2022-23 to ensure “every child receives a superb education – regardless of which school or college they attend, or where they grow up”.
However, TES asserts it also plans to reduce the capital budget by ten per cent from £5 billion in 2019-20 to £4.5 billion in 2020-21, which contradicts its promise.
Lib Dem education spokesperson Layla Morgan MP said the government “must invest billions more in new schools, so that no child has to learn in a cramped environment”.
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