Make do, don't mend

2nd December 2011 at 00:00
With Building Schools for the Future cancelled and renovations on hold, the issue of what to do with decaying classrooms remains. But does dilapidation really affect performance?

"Up there," says Elizabeth Logan, head of Cottingham High School in Yorkshire, pointing to a part of the school building enmeshed in scaffolding, "is where the roof fell down. Had it happened on a school day, a pupil would have easily been maimed or worse. And this is one of the better buildings."

Mrs Logan smiles at the absurdity of her statement. Due to years of neglect, the school she took over a little less than 18 months ago is quite literally crumbling around her ears. It is in an astonishingly dire state.

Around every corner at Cottingham High is a new nightmare: buckets in the canteen collecting the rain, holes in the ceiling, asbestos throughout the fabric so nothing can be modified and every room either insufferably hot or unbearably cold.

Despite the sorry state of the school, only the collapsed roof is being repaired, at a cost of pound;480,000. In fact, until a full survey of the school estate by the Department for Education has taken place, Cottingham High - like hundreds of other schools across the country - will just have to make do and mend in a situation in which make do and mend really is not enough.

Under the previous Labour administration, school buildings were placed at the centre of the debate over school standards. But since the appointment of Michael Gove, there has been a seismic shift in emphasis.

You can read the full article in the December 2 issue of TES.

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