Local MP, Gareth Thomas vowed today to “uncover the truth” about Harrow’s crumbling school buildings after lambasting the Conservatives voted to block the release of key data showing the location and severity of classrooms in disrepair.
Thomas accused the Conservatives of “keeping parents in the dark” following Labour’s attempt to force the publication of information about the true state of England’s 24,000 school buildings almost two years after the School Buildings Condition Survey revealed “alarming” problems within the school estate.
Overall, 296 Conservative MPs voted against Labour’s motion to uncover this data, meaning it was rejected by 296 to 171.
The news comes as official data from the Department of Education showed that there are over 48 schools in Harrow’s local authority area with buildings in “poor” or “bad” condition, meaning that they require urgent repair. Labour has said that local families have not been told the scale of disrepair or when the buildings would be fixed.
An internal government report leaked to the Observer newspaper in May 2022 revealed that school buildings in England are now in such disrepair they posed a “risk to life”.
Despite assurances given to Labour in Parliament that further data detailing the precise condition of individual buildings would be published by the end of 2022, the Schools Minister backtracked refusing to give a date for publication when questioned in the House of Commons earlier this year.
The Conservatives have failed to get to grips with the crumbling state of school building since then Education Secretary Michael Gove gave a public apology for cancelling Labour’s Building Schools for the Future Programme.
Gareth Thomas MP said:
“For two years Conservative Ministers have pulled the wool over parents’ eyes instead of telling them the truth about the real state of their children’s school buildings.
“Years of Conservative neglect of the school estate means that children in Harrow could face disruption to learning as well as direct threats to their safety.
“The Conservatives had a choice today: show they’re on the side of parents, or a government that wants to keep families in the dark about the safety of school buildings.
“I will continue to fight to uncover the truth about our local school buildings so that parents can be reassured that their children can learn in safety.
Notes to Editors
Source: Written questions and answers – Written questions, answers and statements – UK Parliament
Text of Motion
That an humble address be presented to His Majesty, that he will be graciously pleased to give directions that there will be laid before this House by June 5 2023 a document or dataset containing the detailed school level data, including condition grades for individual building elements for all schools, from the latest Condition of School Buildings Survey.
- Gove apologises over building plan blunder as work is cancelled at 25 schools he gave green light to | Daily Mail
Public anger grows over scrapped school-building programme | Guardian
- Overall, between 2009-10 and 2021-22, Department for Education capital spending declined by 37% in cash terms and 50% in real terms. | House of Commons Library https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7375/
Timeline of Events
- In May 2021 the government published a summary of the “alarming” condition of school buildings estate.
Sources: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/syste m/uploads/attachment_data/file/989912/Condition_of_School_Build ings_Survey_CDC1_-_key_findings_report.pdf;School funding, the state of school buildings – 8 things we learned today | Tes
- The Department for Education acknowledged in May 2021 that more than 7,000 schools have at least one aspect of their buildings that received a ‘D’ rating, the worst rating in its Condition Data Collection.Source: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written- questions/detail/2022-05-19/5500
- In May 2022, an internal government document leaked to The Observer newspaper revealed that mSource: England’s crumbling schools are a ‘risk to life’, officials warn No 10 | Schools | The GuardianIn July 2022, one year after their summary report, the government said in answer to a Parliamentary Question that it is still not committing to a date for publishing the underlying buildings condition survey data, but has said it will be published “later this year”.
Source: (https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written- questions/detail/2022-07-21/42001).
In December 2022, Officials raised the risk level of school
buildings collapsing to “very likely”, after an increase in serious
structural issues being reported.
Source: Risk level of school buildings collapsing in England raised to ‘very likely’ | Education | The Guardian
any school buildings in England
are now in such disrepair they are a “risk to life”.
• In December 2022, announced that 239 new school buildings schools and sixth forms will benefit from renovation projects in addition to 161 that had previously been announced.
Source: Building new schools – your questions answered – The Education Hub (blog.gov.uk)
- In January 2023, the Schools Minister said that the Department “Source: Topical Questions – Hansard – UK Parliament
- In February 2023, in a written answer, Schools Minister Nick Gibbrevealed thatSource: Written questions and answers – Written questions, answers and statements – UK Parliament
Source: Schools: Capital Funding – Hansard – UK Parliament