Full Survey Of School Buildings ‘To Cost £6m’

NAO Report Examines Role Of Education Funding Agency


Adrian Budgen, Partner | 0370 1500 100

A new report has suggested that the organisation responsible for distributing vital building and maintenance funds to schools across England will need to find £6 million in order to complete a survey of 8,000 sites.

According to the report from the National Audit Office, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) may have to divert resources from other projects in order to meet the unplanned cost.

Part of the EFA’s responsibilities when it was launched in 2012 included a programme to survey 23,000 schools in England by October 2013. However, such plans were not achieved due to inconsistent data from some local authorities.

Such information was intended to be used to consider which buildings may be in need of refurbishment or other work.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said its findings meant the EFA “must now bring together its existing improvement plans and quickly implement an operating model capable of dealing with the new demands”.

He added: “Our experience of similar bodies in other sectors suggests that the Agency might otherwise become overloaded, to the detriment of its own performance and risking value for money across the education system.”

Expert Opinion
While it is a concern to see this suggestion that more funding is needed to complete this thorough review of school buildings and maintenance, perhaps the most worrying aspect is that this has come about as a result of inconsistent local authority data on such issues.

"Our specific concern regarding this is that it demonstrates that some councils do not have a handle on the condition of school buildings, an issue made all the more concerning by the fact that an All-Party Parliamentary Group estimated two years ago that asbestos could be present in 75 per cent of schools.

"Asbestos which is damaged or managed incorrectly could pose a significant risk to both pupils and staff at such sites, so it is vital that steps are taken to identify where the material is present and ensure steps are taken to ensure that people are safe from harm.

"Concern over asbestos in schools is growing and we would urge the Government to seriously examine and take action on this increasingly urgent issue."
Adrian Budgen, Partner

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