Government hands out £424m for school building safety improvements

  • 4th April 2024

The Government has announced funding for more than 850 ‘essential maintenance’ projects in an effort to improve the safety of the education estate.

This includes 40 projects at 35 academies, sixth-form colleges and voluntary-aided schools that are pending approval, subject to further due diligence.

The CIF funding stream is the only route available for eligible school trusts to secure large capital investment to address building issues that pose risk to life and school closures.

And for 2024-25, there were 4,363 academies, sixth-form colleges and voluntary-aided schools eligible to apply, of which 2,016 applied for 3,034 projects.

The successful applications include fire safety system improvements at 247 schools; roof upgrades and improvements at 136 sites; electrical upgrades at 85 schools; and cladding replacement at three sites.

Regionally, the South East received approval for the most schemes, with 137 successful bids; followed by the North West, where 117 projects were approved.

Bottom of the table was the North East, where only 14 projects were successful, despite the region submitting 69 applications to the fund.

The South East will also receive the most money – £110m – while London will receive the second-highest share at £62m.

With many schools missing out on much-needed funding, Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, said: “After 14 years of this complacent Government, school estates are crumbling, with some rated by the Department for Education as at risk of collapse.

“This same department approves just 30% of school bids for the CIF.

“It appears that only the most urgent of bids is successful, and only when the schools themselves can stump up a proportion of the costs.

“It is unacceptable to leave some 70% of eligible schools with broken boilers, disintegrating roofs, and faulty fire doors.

“These schools should not have to jump through hoops for funding – it should be readily available in order to keep children and teachers safe.”

He added: “The National Audit Office (NAO) estimates that over £11bn is needed to repair the school estate.

“The Government’s announcement is barely scratching the surface of the repairs required.

“Schools are already struggling and should not be forced into more closure days, temporary classrooms, and site moves because the Government refuses to allocate appropriate funding for repairs.

“Children and young people deserve a government that is willing to build them a future.

“That future starts with the building of world-class schools.”

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