A new report from the National Audit Office has highlighted the poor condition of schools across England, finding that around 700,000 children are studying in schools requiring major rebuilding or refurbishment. The report further went on to state that a third (24,000) of English school buildings are past their estimated initial design life.

The NAO report discussed the many issues surrounding the condition of school buildings – from the potential risk of injury and harm to the negative impact on a daily basis in terms of pupil attainment and teacher retention. 

Further to the general lack of funding in maintaining school estates, the report highlighted continuing concerns for school buildings that still contain reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC). Widely used in the construction of school buildings and alterations during the late 1950’s – 1990’s, the weaker nature of RAAC in comparison to standard concrete has led to serious concerns that the material may be at risk of structural failure. This is an issue we have discuss previously on this blog – our article can be found here.

In 2020, the Department for Education recommended funding of £5.3 billion a year to maintain schools in England. However, the average amount of funding actually received in relevant funding from HM Treasury in the subsequent years has been £3.1 billion.

Whilst there are funding sources available to schools for repair and refurbishment works, the funds available do not stretch to anywhere near the value of projects required. This is why funding rounds, including the Condition Improvement Fund, are highly competitive; with only the projects that best meet the requirements, and the applications prepared in the greatest level of detail, gaining funding.

There are clearly a range of issues at hand and it is hoped that following the release of this report, and the level of news coverage it has received, that action on further funding will be taken.

In the meantime, with scare resources available, it’s vital for schools to seek guidance and professional advice on how to make the most of the funding that is currently available.

Lea Hough’s School Building Consultants specialise in the area of education and have helped schools across the North West to access over £53 million in funding to maintain and upgrade their school buildings over recent years.

Our team are happy to speak to schools about how we might be able to assist – with many of our services requiring no upfront fees. To arrange a free, no obligation site visit from one of our Chartered Surveyors, please get in touch.

The NAO report can be found here

Preston Office
Telephone: 01772 458866
Blackburn Office
Telephone: 01254 260196
Clitheroe Office
Telephone: 01200 320040
Lancaster Office
Telephone: 01524 899850
Manchester Office
Telephone: 0161 265 0070
Lea Hough is a trading name of Lea Hough & Co LLP, which is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales under partnership number OC306054.
Registered Office: Oakshaw House, 2 Capricorn Park, Blakewater Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 5QR