Schools: Harrow

Department for Education written question – answered at on 26 September 2023.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (International Trade)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has plans to make further funding available to schools in Harrow to improve their safety, capacity and effectiveness; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

It is the responsibility of those who run schools - academy trusts, Local Authorities and voluntary aided school bodies - to manage the safety and maintenance of their schools and to alert the Department if there is a serious concern with a building. It has always been the case that where the Department is made aware a building may pose an immediate risk, immediate action is taken.

The 2021 Spending Review announced a budget of over £19 billion of capital funding to support the education sector between 2022/23 and 2024/25. This funding is in addition to targeted work on RAAC. The Department has continued to fund improving the condition of schools, with over £15 billion allocated since 2015, including £1.8 billion committed for 2023/24, informed by consistent data on the condition of the estate.

On top of this, 500 schools will be transformed through the School Rebuilding Programme, prioritising buildings in the poorest condition and those with evidence of potential safety issues. The Sacred Heart Language College in Harrow has been announced as one of the schools included in the School Rebuilding Programme.

Harrow Local Authority has received £2,695,355 in School Condition Allocations (SCA) for the 2023/24 financial year. Harrow Local Authority is responsible for allocating this funding across its schools based on local knowledge of condition need, prioritising keeping schools safe and operational. Academy trusts and voluntary aided school bodies also have access to capital funding each year, but allocations typically cut across constituency and Local Authority boundaries. Local Authority schools in Harrow have also been allocated a total of £334,502 in Devolved Formula Capital in 2023/24 to spend on their own priorities. Allocations can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/school-capital-funding#funding-allocations-for-the-2023-to-2024-financial-year.

The Department’s immediate focus is supporting schools and colleges with remedial work to deal with RAAC. The Department will fund mitigation works that are capital funded, including installing alternative classroom space where necessary. Where schools and colleges need additional help with revenue costs, like transport to locations or temporarily renting a local hall or office, this should be discussed with the Department in the first instance to agree any further support needed. All reasonable requests are expected to be approved. Longer term refurbishment projects, or rebuilding projects will also be funded where these are needed, to rectify the RAAC issue in the long term.

With regard to school capacity, the Department is funding nearly £750 million in 2023/24 for new mainstream school places needed for September 2024, a further £195 million for 2024/25 for places needed for September 2025, and nearly £530 million for 2025/26 for places needed for September 2026. £2.6 billion is also being funded between 2022 and 2025 in high needs capital which represents a significant, transformational investment in new high needs provision.

The Department is also improving the capability and effectiveness of the sector through guidance such as Good Estate Management for Schools (GEMS), and Capital Advisers Programme to help schools and responsible bodies achieve value for money and make the most of their resources.

The Department will always put the safety and wellbeing of children and staff in education settings at the heart of its policy decisions.

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