DfE must show "clear plans" to address poor buildings

The chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Dame Meg Hillier, has released her annual report into government spending.

The report highlights that the country’s school buildings and special educational needs provision need major investment.

The report also highlights that over 700,000 pupils are learning in a school that needs major rebuilding or refurbishment and almost 40 per cent of school buildings are beyond their initial design life.

It says this is "the consequence of a deficit of long-term infrastructure planning by the Department for Education (DfE)" and the "DfE does not have a good enough understanding of safety risks, including asbestos and reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), across school buildings for it to fully quantify and mitigate them."

The report says that the DfE must demonstrate that it has "clear plans" to address the scale of challenge.

The report says that failing to meet the needs of children who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) "damages their education, well-being and future life chances".

The report highlights that mainstream primary and secondary schools are struggling to meet the needs of pupils with SEND and to cope with those who have challenging behaviour despite the majority (81.3 per cent) of local authorities overspending their high-needs budget in 2017–18.

The report warns that if the SEND system is not fixed, "children and families will remain in the ‘postcode lottery" and not receiving the same quality of education as their peers.

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