Architects call for more action on school buildings

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Architects call for more action on school buildings

School buildings in England are in dire need of funding for repair and retrofit work, according to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

This week, the Department for Education announced over £450 million investment to improve school buildings, saying 859 academies, sixth-form colleges and voluntary aided schools will receive funding to improve their school buildings.

This follows £1.1 billion capital funding for local authorities, large multi-academy trusts and voluntary aided bodies announced in March.

RIBA has previously warned of the dangerous condition of England’s school estate, with its president Simon Allford saying: “With so many [school] buildings likely to be in need of overhaul, we hope to see the government seize the opportunity to invest in good design to ensure these vital community assets are fit for future generations.

“The school rebuilding programme – be it retrofit or repair – must address the climate emergency by ensuring funding supports sustainable design, delivering value for money, and improving educational outcomes.”

Responding to this week’s announcement, he added: “England’s school estate remains in serious disrepair, so I am pleased to see this funding to make much-needed upgrades.

“However, after many years of funding falling in real terms, this only represents a small proportion of the amount needed.

“Safety must be at the top of the agenda, but it is vital that investment also ensures that school buildings foster positive student engagement and support their communities.

“Whether retrofit or new build, we must deliver well-designed, energy efficient schools – architecture that guarantees that our schools are fit for future generations.

“We would urge the government to publish the Buildings Conditions Survey – so we can better understand the scale of the problem we face.”