The disgraceful state of schools

The National Audit Office reckons that crumbling schools in Northumberland need £2,100 per pupil to bring them up to standard.

Thursday, 2nd March 2017, 4:06 pm
Ronnie Campbell MP for Blyth Valley.

That’s partly because much of the school estate is over 40 years old, with 60 per cent built before 1976, but also because of the Tory spending squeeze.

Bringing schools in Newcastle to a satisfactory condition would cost £1,742 per pupil, while in North Tyneside the cost would be £1,492, and in County Durham it would be £1,334 per pupil.

Common defects include problems with electrics, walls, windows, doors, plumbing and heating. Our children are too often taught in disgraceful conditions and our teachers have to do their best with shoddy materials.

Yet what are the priorities of Theresa May and her Tory government? Bringing back grammars and pouring money into “flagship” free schools. The government is throwing fortunes at its pet programmes, including spending up to £30m to buy sites on which to build a free school. Yet another example of throwing money at the privileged elite at the expense of disadvantaged areas.

Grammar schools need a lot of money to set up and this is a case of robbing poor Peter to pay rich Paul.

And there is a danger that repairs will never happen because the Department for Education has devolved responsibility to local bodies.

The National Audit Office said: “The Department does not currently know with certainty how the condition of the estate is changing over time.

“This position, combined with weak accountability for the condition of the school estate and weak incentives for schools to maintain their buildings, creates a significant risk that defects will go unrepaired and will cost more to address in the future.”

It is a disgrace that kids in the north east have so many school buildings in urgent need of improvement. Why should children be forced into sub-standard and inadequate schools?