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£450m being pumped into upgrading school buildings ‘nowhere near enough’

More than £450 million being pumped into improving hundreds of school buildings across the country by the Government is “nowhere near enough”, education leaders say.

The Department for Education (DfE) said 859 academies, sixth-form colleges and voluntary aided schools will receive a share of a £456 million pot to help refurbish and repair buildings.

However, a group which represents education leaders says the funding is the “bare minimum” needed to improve the condition of the school estate in England.

More than 1,000 building improvement projects will receive the green light as part of plans to ensure pupils have safe, warm and energy efficient classrooms.

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Minister for the School System, Baroness Diana Barran said: “It’s hugely important that every school has access to high-quality learning facilities and these funding allocations will make sure that responsible bodies can start to plan ahead and get projects started to replace roofs, boilers and windows – so pupils and teachers can learn and work in a comfortable space.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “This is money allocated through an annual bidding programme to address significant needs in terms of the condition of school and college buildings and is most certainly not an example of government largesse.

“It is the bare minimum and nowhere near enough to meet the cost of remedial work to repair or replace all defective elements in the school estate in England – which at the last count stood at £11.4 billion.

“A recent House of Commons report found that between 2009-10 and 2021-22, Department for Education capital spending declined by 50% in real terms.”

In December, it was announced 239 school and sixth form buildings would benefit from renovation projects.

Overall £1.8 billion of capital funding for the financial year 2023-24 has been committed to improving the condition of school buildings.

The Government says it has already invested more than £15 billion in upgrading buildings since 2015.