Urgent need for school repairs highlighted
22 February 2017
Repair bills for schools will total an estimated £6.7bn, according to a recent National Audit Report, raising concerns about government plans to spend £9.7bn to create new free schools.
Keeping school buildings in a good state of repair is another challenging area for the FM sector and the report says deterioration of the educational estate is a "significant risk to long-term value for money", according to the BBC.
It highlights concerns expressed by shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, claiming that some free schools have opened in areas where they are not needed and are therefore a drain on resources.
Commons Public Accounts Committee chair Meg Hillier also said that the improvements would be funded by the taxpayer.
Around 60% of school buildings are over 40 years old and need increasing levels of repair.
Issues are further compounded by the need for the Department for Education (DfE) to provide 420,000 additional school places by 2021.
Up to 270,000 of the new places will be provided by free schools, leading to researchers stating that the programme has been far more extensive than the DfE's original plans.
The report also stated that free school places cost 50% more than those in local authority secondary schools, and 33% more for primary school places.
Additional aspects such as the purchase of land have also added to the cost of free schools, said the report.
However, the majority of free schools have been rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, said a DfE spokesperson, with over 75% located in areas with demand for new places.
The DfE also said government investment in the school estate will reach £23bn by 2021.