Major Rebuilding or Refurbishment Work Required In Schools

When buildings are constructed, they come with an estimated “design life” i.e., the life expectancy or period of use intended by the designer of the building and based on the construction materials used, after which time the building or construction materials may need to be replaced. In 2023 there were 21,600 state schools in England with around 64,000 buildings. Of these, approximately 38%, 24,000 school buildings, are already past their estimated design life.

National Audit Office (NAO) Report 2017 and 2023

The National Audit Office (NAO) is the UK’s independent public spending watchdog which “supports parliament in holding government to account [to improve public services through high quality audits].” The NAO published a report in February 2017 titled “Capital funding in schools” and in June 2023 regarding the “Condition of school buildings”.

NAO’s 2017 report found “the expected deterioration in the condition of the school estate is a significant risk to long-term value for money.” It went onto say “it would cost £6.7bn to return all school buildings to a satisfactory or better condition, and a further £7.1bn to bring parts of school buildings from satisfactory to good condition.” These figures were based on the Department for Educations (DfE) Property Data Survey programme which ran from May 2012 to July 2014 and inspected a total of 18,830 schools, excluding schools that had recently been modernised or were scheduled for renewal or replacement.

The NAO report also stated that “the DfE cannot yet assess reliably how the condition of the school estate is changing over time, it estimates that the cost of dealing with major defects in the estate will double between 2015-16 and 2020-21, even with current levels of funding, as many buildings near the end of their useful lives. Much of the school estate is over 40 years old, with 60% built before 1976.”

Note: In 2020 the Department for Education (DfE) recommended the level of funding should be £5.3bn per year to “maintain and mitigate the most serious risks of building failure in schools in England. His Majesty’s Treasury (HM Treasury) then gave the DfE an average of £3.1bn per year in funding which also had to cover the re-build of 500 schools over a ten-year programme. Between 2016 and 2022, DfE spent an average £2.3bn a year.

The House of Commons Library report “School buildings and capital funding (England)” published in January 2023 looked at the changes in capital spending since 2009-2010, the school rebuilding programme and DfE’s annual report 2021-2022: A Significant Risk. It also highlighted the NAO’s 2017 findings as part of the report. It stated the planned capital spending for 2022-23 is around £6.4bn which is a 29% real terms increase compared to 2021-22, but still lower than the DfE’s Property Data Survey programme estimate of “£6.7bn to return all school buildings to a satisfactory or better condition, and a further £7.1bn to bring parts of school buildings from satisfactory to good condition.”

In 2023 the NAO reported again on the continued deteriorating condition of school buildings and concluded that the “overall, the condition of the school estate is declining, and there are safety concerns about some types of buildings [where reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) – a form of concrete that is susceptible to failure, if not properly maintained, is present].” The press release of the report further highlighted the pressing issue of the state of repair and the need for urgent building or refurbishment work in many schools in England saying that since summer 2021 the risk had been assessed and there is the possibility of school building collapse or failure which could potentially result in death or injury.

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO further commented “At present, 700,000 pupils are learning in schools requiring major rebuilding or refurbishment. DfE has, since 2021, assessed the risk of school building failure or collapse as critical and very likely, but it has not been able to reduce this risk. More widely, it has an ambitious strategy for decarbonising the education estate but no plan for how it will achieve this or how much it is likely to cost.”

He went onto say that the “DfE is gathering some of the data it needs to effectively target its resources. It must now use this to improve its understanding of where schools are most at risk so it can balance addressing the most urgent risks while investing enough in maintenance, reducing carbon emissions, and climate change adaptation measures to achieve its objectives and secure longer-term value for money.”

Quality School Refurbishment

JBH Refurbishments understands the importance of school buildings and how essential it is that the teaching environment provides a practical and safe environment to suit both pupils and teachers. School buildings should also be designed to inspire children of all ages.

JBH Refurbishments offer a range of school refurbishment services including:

  • Layout planning and interior design – including CAD design and 3D image generation upon request.
  • Complete interior fit out, including mechanical (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), electrical and plumbing.
  • Interior reconfigurations – removal/installation of walls
  • Room/office partitioning – glazed, partially glazed, stud wall, jumbo wall installations, moving walls (sliding, folding, concertina).
  • Mezzanine floor installation (including full structural survey)
  • Washroom fit out with all furnishings and cubicles.
  • Classroom fit out (large or small) – strip out to fit out and furnishing.
  • Offices/meeting room installation or refurbishment.
  • Furniture supply and fit.
  • Storage solutions.

JBH Refurbishments will visit your school and inspect the area you wish to refurbish or fit out. We’ll provide you with a comprehensive quote with a breakdown of all costs. Once approved we’ll start planning the refurbishment. We’ll create Computer Aided Design (CAD) drawings so that you’ll be able to see what the final layout will look like. Upon approval of the designs, we’ll set a start date. You’ll be assigned a dedicated project manager who will be your main point of contact from the original site survey to completion of the project. Once completed, your project manager will meet with you to ensure you are satisfied with the work undertaken.

JBH Refurbishments, Experts In School Refurbishment

Whether you are planning a complete refurbishment of several areas of your school, a small classroom fit out, or need support with your school maintenance we understand what’s required to carry out a school refurbishment to the highest standards. We pride ourselves on creating quality school refurbishments. With our years of experience we can advise on all aspects of your Kent or London school refurbishment and provide the right expertise for your project. Contact us via our contact form or by calling us on 0333 207 0339 today for a free on-site consultation.


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