Today Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS President, and I have written to Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education in response to today's announcement of £1bn school rebuilding and retrofitting investment.
We have told Gavin Williamson that:
Although any new investment in school infrastructure linked to the climate emergency is welcome, we feel the scale of the announcement is a missed opportunity. We read that the National Audit Office calculated that there is a £7bn¹ maintenance backlog in English schools, and our report calculated that £23bn² is needed over ten years to make the whole English educational estate net-zero. With interest rates at historic lows, the urgent need for substantial fiscal stimulus spread across the country, and a climate emergency that is getting worse by the day, this is the time for massive ambition on net-zero infrastructure investment, and we feel disappointed that £1 billion was as much as could be found for schools at this time.
The below graph shows the difference between the government's new spending announcement, and what we believe needs to be invested:
We are also concerned, that the new spending is less than previous education spending programs would have made available. We have asked Gavin Williamson if he can meet with us so that we can discuss this.
You can read our full letter to Gavin Williamson here.
You can read more about our response to this announcement here.
¹ Repairing all school buildings to a satisfactory standard will cost an estimated £6.7bn, according to a National Audit Office report. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39043733
² Teach the Future and Energise report into the cost of net-zero education buildings. http://www.teachthefuture.uk/asks