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BESA’s ‘State of the Estate’ Report: Urgent Reinvestment Needed for UK Schools

Following the National Audit Office report revealing that 700,000 pupils attend schools requiring major rebuilding or refurbishment, BESA conducted a survey of over 900 schools. The findings from The State of the Estate underscore the pressing need for a new funding settlement to modernise school facilities and ensure an optimal learning environment.

According to BESA members, schools are conducting fewer experiments and face challenges accessing computer equipment in science labs. Our report confirms that over 70% of schools perceive this as a significant issue in lesson delivery.

The condition of science labs poses additional hurdles to lesson delivery, with 57% of schools reporting that current conditions negatively impact learning outcomes. This underscores concerns regarding planned investment, with over 82% of schools expressing apprehensions.

Despite STEM’s critical role in enhancing England’s economic development and global competitiveness, current conditions fall short of what is needed for a world-class science education. This is especially concerning given the continued decline in England’s science performance, as highlighted by the OECD’s PISA findings.

Design & Technology serves as a crucial gateway to preparing students for skilled employment. Yet, our report reveals chronic underfunding of Design & Technology facilities, particularly in secondary schools where 62% report negative impacts on learning outcomes, rising to over 85% in primary schools. Similarly, creative subjects like Art & Design and Music suffer from inadequate facilities.

The deteriorating level of provision in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) has garnered significant attention. Schools urgently require adapted facilities to enable children with SEND to participate in PE, with over 80% of schools expressing this need.

On a positive note, initiatives to improve tech infrastructure within schools are yielding results. The disparity in internet access between rural and urban schools is narrowing, with a higher percentage of rural schools reporting reliable and fast internet connections. Additionally, improvements in internal networks, such as Wi-Fi coverage, indicate the effectiveness of infrastructure projects.

Commenting on the report, BESA’s Director General, Caroline Wright, called on all major parties to commit to urgent reinvestment in school estates to provide teachers and pupils with the facilities they deserve.

Download the report here or visit www.besa.org.uk

Peter Doyle – Policy Manager, BESA

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