One in five teachers has considered quitting over 'wretched' buildings

Architects' report brands schools 'dangerous, dilapidated, poorly built and wasteful'

Richard Vaughan

News article image

A fifth of teachers have considered quitting the classroom due to the “wretched” condition of their school buildings, a report has claimed.

The startling statistic comes from research by the Royal Institute of British Architects, which also suggested that too many of the country’s schools are “dangerous and dilapidated, poorly built and wasteful”.

The RIBA report calls for an urgent review of the government’s current Priority School Building Programme, which it claims is “inefficient” and is costing schools more than £150 million on unnecessary services and maintenance.

The organisation says that “damp, leaky classrooms and asbestos-ridden” buildings in schools means too many pupils and teachers are “struggling to learn and teach in conditions damaging to their health and education”.

The report states that the country’s schools are facing a “perfect storm” as the “worst shortage of school places in decades is putting increasing pressure on school buildings”.

According to the report, called Better Spaces for Learning, a poll of 501 teachers conducted by ComRes found that one in five teachers had considered resigning over the state of their classrooms. One in 20 said they had left their job due to the state of their school buildings.

Jane Duncan, president of RIBA, said well-designed schools should not be the exception but the norm, and called on the government to review its existing school buildings programme.

'Health and wellbeing'

“This country is in the grip of the worst shortage of school places in living memory,” Ms Duncan said. “Our report highlights the vital importance of school design and how it affects the general health and wellbeing of the 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.”

The RIBA research suggests that more than nine out of 10 teachers believe that well-designed schools improve students’ attainment and pupil behaviour.

The report highlights the government’s own findings that just 5 per cent of the country’s 60,000 school buildings operate efficiently.

The NASUWT teaching union said the report chimed with its own research which showed that more than a third of teachers felt their school buildings were not fit to teach in, while four out of 10 said their classrooms were not good for teachers. 

The NUT teaching union warned that too many schools still had asbestos and said the government "had no long-term strategy for its removal".

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "The £4.4 billion Priority School Building Programme is transforming run-down buildings to state-of-the-art facilities, targeting funding at those school buildings in the worst condition. We are building schools based on what works in terms of good design – not so-called iconic buildings that are expensive to maintain."

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook


Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

Latest stories

Leadership: how to turn a failing school around

How to turn a failing school around

Rebuilding a school's shattered reputation isn't easy - but focus on belonging, brilliant staff and behaviour and you'll get there, writes Chris Edwards
Chris Edwards 22 Oct 2021
Staff surveys can be key to help uncover what CPD will really have an impact

How to use surveys to focus staff development plans

Staff surveys can be great for uncovering what teachers really want - but you need to ensure they ask the right questions and the insights are properly understood. Here's how you can do just that
Chris Lindop 22 Oct 2021