Nearly three quarters -72% – of new-build schools due to open by 2030 are in the constituencies of Tory MPs while sites in Labour seats are left to crumble
Ministers have been blasted after research revealed Tory-run areas are more likely to get new schools than Labour ones.
Over 100 are being rebuilt because they were originally made using a type of lightweight concrete called RAAC. The material, called reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, has been declared unsafe because it was only meant to last around 30 years.
Our analysis found nearly three quarters -72% – of new-build schools due to open by 2030 are in the constituencies of Tory MPs – while sites in Labour seats are left to crumble. Last year inspectors found the dangerous concrete in the roof of Park View Secondary in Tottenham, North London.
Pupils were forced into makeshift classrooms at the start of term and had to learn from home one day a week. But the site – in Labour MP David Lammy’s patch – is being repaired not replaced.
Meanwhile the Coopers Company and Coborn School in West London, under Tory MP Julia Lopez, will have a shiny new building in less than six years. Last night Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister Catherine McKinnell demanded ministers “get a grip.”
The Newcastle North MP added: “It is extraordinary that for a problem which ministers knew about before the start of the autumn term, it’s the spring half term before they’ve got round to announcing solutions and even the beginnings of a plan — and that for only a fraction of the schools facing problems. [The government] needs to act urgently for the sake of all our children.”
RAAC is a type of lightweight concrete popular in the UK from the mid-1960s to the 1990s. There are over 22,000 schools and colleges in England with the stuff. But just 119 will be rebuilt and 110 are set to receive grants under the £1.8 billion million scheme finalised this week.
Other schools treated to new facilities include Elm Hall Primary in Witham, Essex – whose MP is ex-Home Secretary Priti Patel. And the Grove Primary Academy in nearby Romford, in Tory Housing Secretary Michael Gove’s constituency.
Hitting out at the plans, Dr Patrick Roach of the teachers union NASUWT said: “Every pupil has a right to be taught in safety, not just those who are educated in Conservative constituencies. This is the toxic legacy of 14 years of mismanagement of our schools which has left pupils and staff in buildings that are literally, in some cases, falling apart in front of their eyes. We need complete transparency from the Government about the extent of the buildings crisis across the entire schools estate, including details of where all schools affected by RAAC and asbestos are across the country.”
A government spokesman said: “We use a robust selection process without any bias, which has considered the extent of works required at the schools – as a result, typically smaller and less complex projects have been awarded grant funding. We are removing RAAC from schools for good. Every case was assessed by expert panels to determine the appropriate funding route based solely on the conditional need of the buildings.”