School Buildings

22 Feb

A little while ago I was discussing the quality, or lack there of, of school buildings in Wales with the BBC.  As I said at the time in interviews the Welsh Government are investing a significant amount of money in school building and improvement projects.  The Welsh Government said £2bn was being invested.  I understood the 21C schools project to be supported to the tune of £1.4bn.  Perhaps they are including additional spending around that.  However, be it £1.4bn or £2bn, we should not forget it is a far cry from the £4bn+ that was originally identified by tWelsh local authorities as needed to drag our schools up to scratch.  We shouldn’t also forget that this was the figure in 2011, it has undoubtedly risen since then.

Again, I do not underestimate what is being spent, nor the realities of public spending budget constraints, but that does not change the fact that what is going in does not match what is required.

So what does this mean for teachers, pupils and parents?  I don’t think anyone would question the fact that a poor standard of classroom, a lack of resource or a dilapidated school will negatively impact on education standards.

At the very basic level teachers should expect to be able to control the standards of lighting and heating in their class; they should expect acoustic levels to be of sufficient standard; they should expect no areas of their schools to be hazardous to teach and learn in; they should expect no classroom, reception or toilet to be leaking water and absolutely no school building should have the risk of asbestos hanging over it.

We talk about wanting to establish Wales as one of the worlds leading education systems.  We’re beginning the work to renewing, refreshing and re-imagining our qualifications, our curriculum and the way we train our teachers.  Without looking also at the long-term need to match where we teach with what and how we teach we will only be doing half the job.

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