The deputy leader of Leeds City Council has once again emphasized the need for a funding solution to tackle the backlog of maintenance issues in schools across Leeds.

In anticipation of the upcoming executive board meeting next week, Councillor Jonathan Pryor urged the Department for Education (DfE) to collaborate closely with the council. Together, they should implement a school repair programme that ensures all schools in Leeds offer a secure and conducive learning environment for students.

Currently, the DfE allocates £6 million annually to the council for maintenance work in locally governed schools. However, the DfE’s own estimate suggests that it would require a minimum of £66.2 million to elevate all these schools to satisfactory standards.

This shortage of funds is affecting the council’s ability to uphold safe, insulated, and water-tight schools in Leeds.

An update on the ongoing efforts within the Planned Maintenance Programme will be presented during the council’s executive board meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday, 20th September.

The report also details the current initiatives aimed at meeting the demand for additional secondary and Special Educational Needs (SEN) places across the city. Several schemes are already either in phased construction or in the developmental stage. Council-led schemes slated for completion by September 2023 and beyond include:

St Edward’s Catholic Primary: A permanent expansion was achieved by extending the existing building, resulting in a total increase of 70 places.

Allerton High: A permanent expansion was achieved by extending the existing building, resulting in a total increase of 300 places.

Leeds City Academy: A permanent expansion was achieved by extending the existing building, resulting in a total increase of 300 places.

Coop Nightingale Academy: The establishment of a new resource and partnership SEN provision, with a total of 60 places.

Iveson Primary: The creation of a new resource provision for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), with a total of 16 places.

The council affirmed its unwavering commitment to ensuring that all children in Leeds have access to a high-quality learning environment. They are exploring innovative approaches to provide solutions for students across Leeds. In the meantime, the council continues its regular advocacy for additional funding for repairs on a national level.

They have communicated this need to the government multiple times since first raising the issue in 2018.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, deputy leader of Leeds City Council and executive member for economy, culture and education said, “As a council, we remain committed to ensuring that every child in Leeds has access to a good quality school environment, it is of vital importance that every child can learn in a safe, warm and watertight schools.

“Our ability to deliver on this commitment is limited, with current levels of funding falling short of the £66.2 million that the Department for Education estimates it would cost to ensure that every child can learn in a safe, warm, and watertight school.

“We urgently need additional government support to help meet the school repair backlog in Leeds.”

To view the executive board report, visit Council and democracy (leeds.gov.uk) (Agenda item 14).