School estate surveys now due next summer

Education Secretary Michael Gove has said his department’s surveys of the school estate will not be published until next summer – almost a year later than planned.

In a statement to Parliament, Gove revealed that having received local condition surveys from around 90 local authorities, analysis has shown these were “in some cases not accurate and, in others, inconsistent”.

These local surveys had been planned to speed up the process of obtaining a clear picture of the state of the school estate across England.

However, the lack of reliability of that data has resulted in Gove now extending its central surveys to cover all schools for which local authorities have supplied data.

“This means undertaking an additional 8,000 surveys, which will take approximately a further eight months to complete,” said Gove. “By next summer we will have collected up-to-date, reliable and validated condition information for the entire schools estate. My intention remains to target funding to where it is most needed and I will use the information from the surveys to do that from 2015-16.”

He added that for 2014-15, he will allocate maintenance funding using the same methodology that was used for the 2013-14 period.

Some have suggested that the outcome of the estate surveys could force the government into a more structured programme of new investment in schools, potentially leading to a second round of the Priority School Building Programme.