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DfE warns schools facing increasing risk of structural collapse

Even modern schools have been prone to failure. Brickwork collapsed at Oxgangs Primary School during a storm in January 2016

The risk of schools collapsing has increased from ‘likely’ to ‘very likely’ in the past year as more structural faults are found. A building collapse is listed as one of six key risks facing the Department for Education (DfE), as set out in its 2021/22 annual report.

Along with risks such as a loss in public confidence in the fairness of exams and children not recovering from covid, the DfE also says: “There is a risk of collapse of one or more blocks in some schools which are at or approaching the end of their designed life-expectancy and structural integrity is impaired.”

It adds: “The risk predominantly exists in those buildings built in the years 1945 to 1970 which used ‘system build’ light frame techniques.”

The safety of school buildings has now been escalated to the Civil Service Board as a cross-governmental risk.

The DfE says that the likelihood of the school buildings safety risk increased in October 2021 due to the increased numbers of serious structural issues identified. “The impact and likelihood are unlikely to reduce in 2022, as there was no agreement to increase condition funding or the scale of the rebuilding programme [in the 2021 spending review],” th annual report says.

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