Letter to Editor: A former headteacher writes: The blame for SFG lays at the door of the government
Education: Secondary / Sat 26th Aug 2023 at 10:33am
LET US be clear about this… there is only ONE organisation to blame here and it’s the Department for Education (DFE).
During my final year as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an academy trust, we were involved in the design and build of a new school.
The budget was set by the DfE; the contract was awarded by the DfE and the DfE monitored every aspect of the build.
Although the school would become our responsibility on completion, relatively very little was our say prior to that moment.
The DfE almost always chooses the cheapest option and modular constructions often offer that.
‘Corners’ are invariably sought to be cut to keep costs down – and we all know the cost of everything has risen.
Of course looking for the cheapest rarely offers the best value in the long-run (but most Govts are not concerned with that as they’re about the short term (5-10yrs).
EVERY SFG parent should write to Robert Halfon MP asking him to get an answer from Nick Gibb (who is Schools Minister) as to how this happened under their watch and how quickly will the issue be sorted (as well as ensuring the school does not incur additional costs for this mess).
Reading the contents of the former ceo of the trust, robert campbell, it only confirms what i have already stated in the past that this whole incident stinks of corruption. It is clear that the trust had no input and that and every detail into this contract was controlled by dfe. Surely alarm bells should have rang when the original project architect withdrew its services from this project or are the dfe now going to say that they were not notified of this change. This is without a doubt a shocking incident that could have had serious consequences on the health and safety of all of the children involved. So where is our beloved local mp at the moment. Well i have no doubt what so ever that he has retreated back down a hole some where and waiting until it all goes away. Halfon should be asking serious questions as to whom signed this of at the dfe but because he is gutless he does not wish to offend the westminster woke brigade. Halfon is a yes man and will not go against his political masters and as a result we all have to suffer. He should show that when needed he can stand up to his masters and demand a investigation into who signed this project of and look closely into their backround. Halfon if you cannot do a simple thing like asking a question, because you afraid to ask your masters, then you are the same as these buildings UNFIT FOR PURPOSE. Do as all a favour and go now
Most schools are in such poor condition that they are effectively falling down. "Unfit for purpose" rather like the DFE itself then. It doesn't help having Mr Gradgrind in the form of Singapore Nick (Mr Gibb) and a succession of Secretary's of State who back an unstable soul destroying terminal exam system that fails to assess the capabilities of all children except on a very narrow section of performance, where grade boundaries are politically juggled every year and grade labels frequently altered. No wonder many students and teachers are suffering poor mental health and voting with their feet. The final insult to the system is that now those in charge of the dfe are telling children the exams don't matter anyway.
The National Audit Office reported this June that 38% of school buildings had exceeded their design life. There are 64,000 individual buildings spread across 21,600 schools in England. Of further concern is the 3,600 system-built blocks for which the Department for Education has more concerns because they may be more susceptible to deterioration. See Key Facts on page 4 at https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/condition-of-school-buildings.pdf
The National Audit Office also reported the safety issue of Reinforced Aerated Autoclaved Concrete (RAAC) in schools. The Department for Education (DfE) is focusing attention on 14,900 school buildings constructed between 1930 and 1990. As at May 2023, around 6,300 (42%) of these schools had told DfE they had completed work to identify RAAC. As a result, DfE has identified 572 schools that may contain RAAC. A specialist will assess all schools with suspected RAAC, and DfE has allocated £6 million for 600 assessments by December 2023. By May 2023, specialists had completed 196 assessments and confirmed the presence of RAAC in 65 schools, of which 24 required immediate action. See paragraph 11 on page 8 at https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/condition-of-school-buildings.pdf