Schools

Revealed: 39 ‘unsafe’ school closures in just over three years

Although most schools reopened, buildings or entire schools at eight locations were closed permanently, new data shows

Although most schools reopened, buildings or entire schools at eight locations were closed permanently, new data shows

Schools with identified RAAC are being urged to put contingency plans in place in case of closure by the DfE

Thirty-nine schools have temporarily or permanently closed since December 2019 because their buildings were unsafe.

The admission from government, made in answer to a Parliamentary written question from Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Munira Wilson, is the latest evidence of the crumbling condition of England’s school estate.

Last week, it emerged that the Department for Education had admitted it does not know which schools are at risk of collapse, despite escalating the risk level of school buildings collapsing to “very likely”.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said since December 2019, the DfE had been “made aware of 39 schools that have closed on a temporary or permanent basis, because one or more school buildings have been deemed unsafe”.

This was due to a “range of reasons, including structural concerns and general condition issues, such as roofing and boiler failures”.

Wilson said the statistics were “shocking”, and showed how “crumbling schools have now become commonplace”.

“The government has been ignoring warnings from its own officials that some school buildings are unsafe, let alone fit for purpose.”

Of 31 schools that temporarily closed, 23 closed fully and eight partially. The remaining eight were permanent closures, with three closing fully and five partially.

When schools did close, pupils were relocated to other spaces on their sites or to alternative accommodation “until a long-term solution is in place”.

Trusts and councils responsible, says Gibb

The government has been under mounting pressure to publish more detail on the condition of the school estate, after a 2021 document revealed that repairing or replacing all defects in England’s schools would cost £11.4 billion.

The DfE escalated its own risk level of school buildings collapsing to “very likely” in its annual report and accounts last year.

But when asked for details under freedom of information by support staff union Unison, the department said the number of buildings at risk and the names of the schools affected were “not held”.

Gibb said today that responsibility for ensuring the safety and condition of school buildings “lies with the responsible bodies, such as local authorities, trusts and voluntary aided bodies”.

The government provides “support to schools” and has allocated over £13 billion since 2015 for “keeping schools safe and operational”, he added. This included £1.8 billion this financial year, “informed by consistent data on the school estate”.

However Gibb said responsible bodies were “not obliged to report building-related school closures” to the DfE.

“The Department does not routinely collect or hold complete data of the information requested. Since 2019, the department has been capturing the closures that have been reported due to a range of issues, including building safety issues.”

Latest education roles from

Internal Quality Assurance Employability and Distance Learning

Internal Quality Assurance Employability and Distance Learning

Capital City College Group

Distance Learning Tutor

Distance Learning Tutor

Capital City College Group

Event Support Team Leader

Event Support Team Leader

MidKent College

E-Sport Technician

E-Sport Technician

MidKent College

Digital Technician

Digital Technician

MidKent College

Student Welfare Officer

Student Welfare Officer

MidKent College

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

Navigating NPQ Funding Cuts: Discover Leader Apprenticeships with NPQs

Recent cuts to NPQ funding, as reported by Schools Week, mean 14,000 schools previously eligible for scholarships now face...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

How do you tackle the MIS dilemma?

With good planning, attention to detail, and clear communication, switching MIS can be a smooth and straightforward process, but...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Schools

‘Children are our future and it’s for them that Tim dedicated his life’ 

Hundreds gather to remember the late Sir Tim Brighouse

Samantha Booth
Schools

Birmingham withdraws schools from £100m IT system

Heads were unable to make financial plans as glitches left them waiting months to learn the size of their...

Jack Dyson
Schools

Hinds says ‘all schools’ restrict phones, and 5 more key findings

Schools minister also says the 'option' of statutory mobile phone guidance remains

Freddie Whittaker
Schools

CST calls for policy changes over ‘unsustainable’ parent complaints

Academy body says rise in complaints is putting 'significant pressure on school leaders’

Jack Dyson

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *