Poor quality schools letting children down, architect body warns

Poor quality school buildings are linked to health and education problems for staff and pupils. Picture: TSPL
Poor quality school buildings are linked to health and education problems for staff and pupils. Picture: TSPL
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Pupils and teachers are struggling to learn and teach in damp, leaky classrooms and asbestos-ridden buildings in British schools, an architectural organisation has warned.

The report published today by RIBA, the professional association of architects in the UK, analysed almost 60,000 school buildings in the UK, including some in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the west of Scotland. It found that one in five teachers have considered quitting because of the “wretched” condition of the school buildings they have to teach in, which are damaging to their health and education.

The study comes as 13 Edinburgh schools remain closed after flaws were found in 17 buildings across the city built under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.

RIBA president Jane Duncan said: “This country is in the grip of the worst shortage of school places in living memory. Our report highlights the vital importance of school design and how it affects the general health and wellbeing of their users, our children and their teachers.

“As limited funding is available to deal with the growing problem, every penny spent on schools must deliver maximum value for money.”

She added: “How can we expect our children to compete with the world’s best when too many of our school buildings are substandard?

“Educational improvements resulting from the current programme of school building are not reaching the basic standards that British taxpayers and our economy expects.

“We need to do better for all of our children and teachers.”

The majority of teachers interviewed for the report said that school corridors which are large enough to allow for easy movement of students have a high impact on reducing the risk of bullying and unsafe student behaviour.

Nearly half of teachers are worried that schools they currently teach in are too small for the number of students and a quarter rated the quality of their current school buildings as poor or very poor.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Many of the conclusions from the report – such as the importance of well-designed and accessible learning environments and a flexible school estate – lie at the heart of Scotland’s School Estate Strategy.”