Last Updated on September 21, 2023 by Karl Thompson
Yes. The data clearly suggests a very strong correlation between Tory underfunding of schools closing because of unsafe crumbling concrete.
The Tories have had the money to spend on making school building safe. Instead they have chosen to spend the money of new free schools. This appears to have been a political decision to please mainly middle class parents.
Of course the Tories, and especially Rishi Sunak say they are not to blame. However in this case they appear to be just plain lying. The data suggest the opposite: that Tory education policy has failed leading to mass school closures. This was totally preventable.
Unsafe schools closing due to crumbling concrete
More than 100 schools are fully or partially closed this September 2023 due to crumbling concrete. The problem is that some of the buildings in these schools were built in the 1950s using reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC). This concrete is now passed its use by date and is crumbling.
Back in 2018 a ceiling collapsed in a staffroom made from this concrete. Had people been in the room at the time it could have killed someone. This prompted a review of the safety of school buildings. In 2020 a senior education civil servant at the time advised improving 200 schools a year. However the now Prime Minister, then chancellor Rishi Sunak made the decision to only improve 50 schools a year.
The DFE’s own data shows the Torys have been chronically underfunding schools. It was estimated in 2021 that £5 billion would be needed for capital investment in schools. However only £3 billion was allocated.
Compared to the previous New Labour government the Tories have spent one third less on education investment during their time in power.
The data above is taken from this BBC News Article which is worth a watch to summarise this issue!
The Tories: putting the middle classes first?
Instead of choosing to make existing schools safe the Tories have instead chosen to spend almost £1 billion buying land for new Free Schools. Almost half of these have created spare capacity in already existing schools in local areas.
One interpretation of the above is as follows:
Tory education policy and funding has prioritised pleasing middle class parents. (These are typically the people who benefit from free schools). This has been at the expense of pupils attending schools with crumbling concrete.
So the Torys are prepared to put (probably poorer) pupils at risk of injury and death. All so middle class pupils can have a slightly better quality of education in free schools.
Relevance to A-level sociology
This material is relevant to the education topic within A-level sociology.
This seems to be another failure of Tory education policy in recent years.
It is also a failure of neoliberalism. Funding cuts are a big part of neoliberal policy. In this case they have resulted in school closures. This is backward social development.