Education 191 views Sep 27, 2017
Britain’s builders ready to meet the challenge in the education sector

Recent reports claim that Britain needs to build another 2,000 schools to cope with the pressure on class sizes caused by the immigration crisis. These, it is said, will be needed to teach an additional 729,000 primary and secondary school pupils by 2020.

Education has always been a battleground for politicians with Shadow Education secretary Angela Rayner saying this week that should we pledge another £500 million to Sure Start. The Conservatives are pledging millions to free schools although the detail and final amounts set aside for school building is still not totally clear.

The whole picture is confusing to the point where even the RIBA entered the debate with their own claims in 2016 claiming that too many UK school buildings were dangerous and dilapidated, causing children to underperform and teachers to leave the profession.

“The prevalence of damp, leaky classrooms and asbestos-ridden buildings in British schools means too many pupils and teachers are struggling to learn and teach in conditions damaging to their health and education,” it was quoted.

In May this year the National Audit Office calculated that £6.7bn would be needed to bring existing school buildings in England and Wales to a satisfactory standard. Auditors have concluded that the Department for Education would need £2.5bn just to purchase the land. 

To compound the situation it has been suggested that some free schools are opening in areas where there is already plenty of places for local pupils. This in turn could affect the future financial sustainability of other schools in the area.

In short, it would seem that our schools building programme is nothing short of a disaster with muddled thinking and political expediency from all parties ruling the agenda. It has thus always been the case with education, but with such a dire need for more schools and facilities, it’s our future we are talking about – and the wellbeing of our young people.

Britain’s construction industry will meet any challenge it is offered but in the field of education what is needed now is leadership- and our builders will do the rest – how long before we see some progress.

Britain’s politicians – four out of 10 and must do better.

By John Ridgeway

Follow me on Twitter  @JohnRidgeway99