Dramatic school buildings cuts leave pupils in ‘crumbling’ classrooms

According to the Guardian, capital expenditure on schools is set to fall by 41% at a time when most schools require some form of repairs

Funding to maintain ageing school buildings has fallen by around £3.5bn which, according to the Labour party, has left thousands of children in classrooms that are “leaking and crumbling around them”.

Data shows that capital expenditure on schools in 2010-2011 was £8.8bn but, by 2018-2019, this will fall to £5.2bn. This is a real terms cut of 41%.

This news comes at a time when the majority of schools across the country are in need of some kind of repair.

The potential presence of asbestos is also a concern, as over 200 teachers have died from a form of cancer associated with asbestos since 2001.

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, said:

“It’s shameful that the Tories have cut billions of pounds of investment from the school infrastructure budget, despite knowing that the majority of our schools are in urgent need of repair.

“It is simply not acceptable that thousands of our children are learning in schools and classrooms that are leaking and crumbling around them.”

Labour’s data is based on a report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies. The report states:

‘The Department [for Education] expects the condition of the school estate will worsen as it cannot fund all the maintenance and improvement work required. The way the system works adds to the risk that the department may not achieve its aim of preventing buildings that are in reasonable condition from deteriorating.’

A DfE spokesperson said the government had committed £23bn over 2016-21 to ensure the school estate is safe. “In addition, our priority school building programme is rebuilding and refurbishing over 500 school buildings in the worst condition across the country.”

The report shows that the most common issues within schools are to do with electrics and external walls.

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Paul Whiteman, general secretary of National Association of Head Teachers, said: “School leaders tell us they are struggling to keep schools safe for children and staff, with reports of playgrounds cordoned off, classrooms and facilities out of bounds, and asbestos unable to be removed.

“With school budgets at breaking point all they can do is paper over the problems instead of repairing them. Only new money from the Treasury can solve this, and we urge the chancellor to act in the budget on Monday.”

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