Some 239 schools and sixth form colleges have received funding to replace crumbling facilities, but critics say the cost will be enormous and classrooms are in a bad state due to “years of underfunding.”
The schools and colleges named are in addition to 161 previously given the go-ahead by the Department for Education (DfE).
It means 400 out of a possible 500 projects have now been selected for overhauls, through the department’s school rebuilding programme.
The DfE said last year that the most acute need is in the East and West Midlands, and that an estimated £11.4bn is needed to bring the school buildings up to scratch.
This is a marked jump from the £6.7bn in backlog maintenance for schools estimated by the National Audit Office in 2017. While not directly comparable figures, it is clear the funding gap is growing.
Schools make up more than half of government buildings in terms of area, yet they only receive around 15% of annual running costs.
In fact, of all government departments, schools receive the least money for building upkeep per square meter of floor area.
The education secretary has said more funding will be announced soon for the latest 239 schools to be approved for the programme.
Speaking to Sky News, Gillian Keegan said there is “always a value-for-money question” and “you’ve got to make sure what you’re doing makes sense and does deliver value to students”.
Steven Marsland, headmaster at Russell Scott Primary in Manchester, said he has had “sleepless nights” worrying about children’s safety at his school.
He said he is delighted to have his school chosen for renovation but added: “It won’t make up for the last eight years.”
Mr Marsland said the school had been flooded by raw sewage on several occasions after it rose up through the drains and classroom ceilings have been crumbling because of a botched rebuild.
He said: “You just worry all the time.
“You’ve got all these children who depend on you and one wrong call and they would pay the consequences.”
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Other teachers described moldy classrooms, faulty electricals and leaking roofs; Most did not want to speak on camera because they were worried it would affect any funding decision.
Real capital spending on the education sector is half what it was at its peak in 2010.
One reason for the change is that Labour’s Building Schools For The Future programme, which ramped up capital funding in the late 2000s, was scrapped by the Conservative government in 2010.
It is more important to look at trends, as spending of this nature is generally bumpy because capital projects are long-term and costs do not come at regular intervals.
Comparing the last two decades, it is clear that there was a greater commitment to capital investment in schools under Labour.
The current government has pledged £19.4bn of capital funding to support the education sector over the next three years, but a large chunk of this investment is for further education, not schools.
Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said schools are facing “extraordinary challenges” and parents are “right to be worried”.
She said many schools are “not fit for the future” and teachers cannot focus on education if they are “having to manage inadequate facilities”.
Ms Phillipson said: “This isn’t just about fixing immediate problems.
“It should be about making sure all of our children have a brilliant environment in which to learn because they need that if we are really going to drive up standards in all our schools and make sure that children get the best start in life.”
The education secretary said the prime minister “genuinely means it” when he says education is a priority and a silver bullet.
Asked if she is taking on the job at a particularly challenging time, Ms Keegan said the role is a “privilege” and she is “delighted” education has been singled out for funding.