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News - May/June 2018

‘£7bn time bomb’ across English schools estate

‘£7bn time bomb’ across English schools estate

The mounting backlog of school repairs is “a £7bn ticking time bomb”, says one of England’s largest multi-academy trusts.

Andy Simpson, National Director of Services, Oasis Community Learning, a Multi-Academy Trust with 49 academies, told delegates at a Westminster Education Forum: “Everyone’s talking about new places in new buildings, but most of our children are in ageing buildings. This is a £7 billion hole ticking time bomb, and I think the Department for Education knows the current level of capital investment is wholly insignificant and therefore the ticking time bomb exists across the entire estate.

“Just in Oasis, in our near-50 schools, we’ve got a £302 million hole that has no solution. Those schools will close, and those places will not be places unless there is a Government solution.”

Simpson’s warning was backed by Wayne Bates, an official at NASUWT, the second-largest national teachers’ union. He commented: “In a recent survey we conducted, more than 58% of teachers said the overall physical condition of their school had declined since they started working there. Additionally, 71% said there were signs of leaks, damp or mould around the school and 55% said the same for their classroom. Nearly 60% said there was not an adequate number of toilets for staff or pupils and 53% said that the toilets they had were not in good condition. And let us not forget that almost 20 years after all asbestos use was banned more than three-quarters of schools continue to contain asbestos fibres, with variable management of this killer material, and this was demonstrated in a 2016 Department for Education survey which found 20% of schools not fully compliant with asbestos regulations.

“We as a union are very concerned that the money isn’t there and the state of the current school estate is crumbling quite rapidly and that extra money needs to be put in as a matter of urgency.”

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