Westminster Education Forum

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Next steps for school buildings in England - progress on the School Rebuilding Programme | RAAC and building safety concerns | decarbonisation | community use | policy priorities

TO BE PUBLISHED January 2024

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

This conference will examine the future of school buildings in England and priorities for the education estate.

It will be an opportunity to discuss the progress, implementation and rollout of the Government’s 10-year School Rebuilding Programme, looking at lessons learned, the process of prioritising schools and ways that delivery could be accelerated.

The conference takes place with the recent publication of the Public Accounts Committee’s Condition of School Buildings report, following the National Audit Office’s publication earlier in the year. Findings include:

  • 700,000 children being taught in unsafe or ageing buildings
  • regional variations in how much money should be spent per pupil to put schools back into good condition
  • insufficient planning by the DfE for making school buildings more environmentally friendly
  • call for DfE to work up a full picture of asbestos across the school estate as the DfE is yet to establish whether asbestos is present in around 1000 schools
  • DfE ‘does not have a good enough understanding’ of the risks of RAAC in schools

It also takes place in the context of concerns surrounding the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in some school buildings. Delegates will consider how to address the issue, and priorities for assessing building safety and minimising disruption to students.

Further sessions will look at strategies for the modernisation, decarbonisation and retrofitting of existing schools, including steps to reduce energy demand, alongside the design and building of new schools which meet environmental standards.

The agenda includes a focus on utilising the opportunity to create more effective spaces for learning within schools, and to ensure school buildings meet the needs of those with disabilities and other special needs.

There will also be discussion on adapting school buildings to meet the needs of local communities, and how the value of the education estate can be maximised, including partnerships with local communities and increased use outside of school hours.

Areas for discussion include:

  • current condition: the outlook for school buildings across England - key priorities moving forward
  • building safety: addressing the impact of RAAC and concerns over building materials - allocation of funds and resources to address concerns - reducing disruption in the schools impacted
  • School Rebuilding Programme:
    • rollout so far - priorities for schools outside the programme
    • maximising the value of the education estate - ensuring sustainability and longevity of refurbished schools
  • refurbishing schools outside the programme: targeting funding and policy to meet the needs of different regions in spending per pupil - prioritising underfunded schools
  • local needs: improving building facilities for use by the wider community - creating partnerships and improving relationships between schools and people in the surrounding area
  • decarbonisation: modernising existing schools - implementation of retrofit programmes - reducing energy use - planning for future climate challenges moving forward - utilising green spaces
  • policy:
    • implementing measures in the Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy
    • the way forward for government strategy - assessing the impact of proposals to change the approach to meeting net zero objectives in schools

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from the CMA; DfE; DLUHC; and HSE, as well as with parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons.

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles