IN HIS FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT as Education Secretary, James Cleverly confirmed a £1billion investment to refurbish or rebuild 61 schools, as part of the School Rebuilding Programme.

Commenting on the announcement, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said:  “This year capital funding for schools is £1.9 billion less than it was in 2009 in real terms. So whilst  this one-off £1billion to spend on school buildings is welcome, it needs to be compared against what has been cut – which is fifty times larger.

“Capital spending was the largest cut to education and was imposed immediately after the 2010 election. If the Government had not cut Labour’s school rebuilding programme, £27 billion more would have been spent on school and college buildings.

“The National Audit Office itself highlighted in its 2017 report Capital Funding for Schools that £6.7 billion was needed to restore all school buildings to a satisfactory condition and a further £7.1 billion to bring parts of school buildings from a satisfactory to good condition. The NEU believes these figures are likely to be an underestimate as they were formed from the DfE’s 2014 Property Data Survey, so parts of the school estate will have deteriorated further since then.

“This 2014 survey also did not take asbestos into account, so these figures make no assessment of the cost of asbestos management and removal. Sixty per cent of schools were built before 1976 and around 85 per cent of schools contain asbestos, which not only makes them more difficult and expensive to maintain, but a riskier environment to work or learn in.”

* Read the Department for Education announcement, with a list of schools to receive funding here.

* Source: National Education Union