Children and teachers are in danger from at-risk classroom structures following a chronic under-investment in schools, it is claimed.
Education unions say some walls and ceilings are a “disaster waiting to happen”.
Figures show that schools need £11.4billion of repairs after capital spending on education property fell by 50 percent in the 13 years to 2022.
The unions said an education department report last year admitted walls and ceilings could fall in at schools built in the post-war period which are now approaching the end of their “designated life-expectancy”. Two years ago, 12 children and two adults needed hospital treatment after a ceiling at a primary school collapsed in south-east London.
Now, in a letter to Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, public service unions NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, Unison, Community, GMB, and Unite have demanded action.
Dan Shears, GMB director for health, safety and environment, said: “To discover that schools are in danger of literally falling down is absolutely scandalous.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “This is a disaster waiting to happen which, in the worst case, could end up costing lives.”
Clare Keogh, Unite acting national officer, said: “Children and school staff should not have to spend their days in buildings that are so dilapidated that some are at risk of collapsing.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We take the safety of pupils and staff extremely seriously.”
It said if it is “made aware of a building that poses an imminent risk of collapsing, immediate action is taken”.
It said £1.8 billion had been allocated for 2022-23 essential maintenance and improvements.