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TORY ministers must take urgent action to address the shocking state of Britain’s school estate, a coalition of seven education unions are demanding today.
In an open letter to Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, Unite, GMB, Unison, NEU, NASUWT, NAHT and Community say the government must act to make primaries and secondaries safe and fit for the future.
The call follows House of Commons Library research that shows that between 2009 and last year, overall capital spending on schools plummeted by 50 per cent in real terms.
Such “failure to invest in the maintenance and renewal of the estate inevitably has consequences,” said the unions.
They noted that even the Department for Education admitted last year that the situation has reached crisis point, with some buildings even at risk of collapse.
Community’s Helen Osgood urged ministers to take swift action “as the health and safety of our children and education workforce is on the line.
“The current assessments of buildings are not thorough enough, which means that currently underlying structural problems go unnoticed,” she added.
GMB’s Dan Shears blasted the “truly appalling” situation, saying: “It’s no great surprise that schools are in poor condition after a lost decade of underinvestment, but to discover that schools are in danger of literally falling down is absolutely scandalous.”
NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman warned of a “disaster waiting to happen,” while NASUWT head Dr Patrick Roach said: “School staff and parents deserve to know if their schools are at risk and what is being done about it.”
The Department for Education claims that the “safety of pupils and staff is paramount and one of the largest and most comprehensive surveys of school building conditions in Europe is under way” across the sector.
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