According to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO), approximately 700,000 children in England are being taught in unsafe or ageing school buildings that require major repairs. The Department for Education (DfE) has assessed the risk of injury or death from a school building collapse as "very likely and critical" since 2021.
Teachers have raised concerns about risks such as sewage leaks and asbestos. The DfE claims to have made significant investments in transforming schools, but the NAO attributes the lack of action to years of underfunding. The deteriorating condition of school buildings is not only compromising student achievement but also affecting teacher retention.
The report highlights regional variations in the amount of funding needed per pupil to address the condition of schools, with the East and West Midlands and parts of northern England having the greatest average need. The report also emphasizes the risks associated with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) and asbestos in poorly-maintained buildings.
Teachers and headteachers have expressed their concerns about the impact of these issues on learning conditions. The NAO recommends substantial funding to mitigate building failure risks, but the DfE has received lower amounts than suggested. The government's response to these issues and the NAO's recommendations will be examined in an ongoing parliamentary inquiry into the state of schools.
You can read the full article on the BBC News website.