Commenting on a change in guidance from the Department for Education, Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“This morning, on his breakfast media round, schools minister Nick Gibb stated that the costs of emergency and temporary accommodation would be covered by Government in its efforts to address RAAC concerns in schools at risk of collapse.
“What Nick Gibb did not say is this is a reversal of guidance issued last night by the Department for Education, which clearly told heads that, ‘We expect you to be able to fund anything that is an additional revenue cost, for example RENTAL COSTS FOR EMERGENCY OR TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATION FOR EDUCATION SETTINGS OR additional transport costs for local authorities.’ This capitalised text (our emphasis) has since been removed.
“It is right that Government has u-turned on costs that could well have been almost impossible for already beleaguered schools, given the lack of school funding and budgets already stretched to the limit. Instead of admitting they have made this change, and owning it, Nick Gibb had the temerity to suggest that those who read this very clear guidance last night had ‘got the wrong end of the stick’.
“Today, the guidance excludes this wording, and this is the right change. We hope that the Department for Education will write to school leaders with this clarification, and any others. The DfE has developed a bad habit in recent years of revising guidance without a consideration of the time it takes for busy head teachers to track changes.
“Nick Gibb must now be absolutely clear on what costs will or will not be taken on by Government. The current guidance should not be left to interpretation. No costs should come out of existing school budgets, and it must be funded from Government.
“The Government ripped up Building Schools for the Future in 2010 and has never adequately replaced it. The NEU and sister unions have been raising concerns ever since and pressuring education secretary Gillian Keegan in recent months to release a list of RAAC-affected schools. That list is still not available. Parents and schools know that this Government is not serious about education and will only deal with problems when they become impossible to ignore. This must change.”
This is a screenshot of guidance as it appeared yesterday:
DfE will provide funding for all mitigation works that are capital funded. Your caseworker will provide you with the relevant form to complete.
We expect you to be able to fund anything that is an additional revenue cost, for example rental costs for emergency or temporary accommodation for education settings or additional transport costs for local authorities. If you have difficult with this, you should discuss this with your caseworker and the Education and Skill Funding Agency in the first instance. We recommend that you contact your commercial insurer or the Risk Protection Arrangement (RPA) if you are a member.