Schools: Buildings

Department for Education written question – answered at on 18 October 2023.

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Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Secretary of State for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to ensure (a) financial control of and (b) oversight of emergency expenditure on rectifying issues in school buildings rated to RAAC.

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 Department will fund emergency mitigation work needed to make buildings safe, 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, the Department will provide that support for all reasonable requests. The Department will also fund longer term refurbishment projects, or rebuilding projects where these are needed, to rectify the RAAC issue in the long term.

The Department will work with the relevant responsible body, which will depend on the type of school or college with confirmed RAAC. Every case will be different, and we are working closely with those affected to understand and support their needs, including with capital funding.

Schools and colleges will either be offered capital grants to fund refurbishment work to permanently remove RAAC, or rebuilding projects where these are needed, including through the School Rebuilding Programme. The Department will set out further details for affected schools and colleges in due course.

The Department is prioritising enabling children to access face to face education, with minimum disruption. This includes directly supporting responsible bodies and their schools to access funding, while ensuring sufficient and proportionate controls. The Department is closely monitoring expenditure through its existing processes, which have been adapted to cover urgent expenditure on RAAC mitigations. A dedicated financial team has also been put in place to establish monitoring and assurance processes for expenditure on remediation, and the Government Internal Audit Agency has been engaged to provide further oversight.

​The Department will always put the safety and wellbeing of children and staff in education settings at the heart of its policy decisions. The Government has taken more proactive action to identify and mitigate RAAC in education settings than any other in the UK.

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