Survey: Outdated Buildings, Classrooms Hurt Student Achievement

A new survey commissioned by ITV1′s Daybreak and the Times Education Supplement found that nearly a quarter of all teachers currently employed in the UK would not send their children as students to the schools where they teach. And contrary to the expectation that it is an unwillingness to deal with conflicts of interest, it’s actually the school’s quality that plays the decisive role in that decision.

The main reason behind the reticence seems to be the quality of the facilities. The majority of the 2,178 teachers polled said that the buildings they taught in made providing quality lessons difficult. A bit over twenty percent even said that the classroom where they delivered their lessons was unfit for occupation.

The survey also found that nearly 70% of teachers felt that their school buildings and infrastructure were in desperate need of an overhaul. Although instructors from a range of disciplines complained about the facilities as being inadequate, it seems like those involved in subjects like technology, engineering and IT had the hardest time creating good lessons around outdated equipment.

The study also highlighted difficulties in obtaining funding. A quarter of teachers (24.4%) said their school had been turned down for cash for building and redecoration works, and of those 20.1% had been turned down more than three times.

More than 85% of teachers said that an increase in capital investment would boomerang onto both student achievement and behavior.

Stephen Twigg MP, Shadow Education Secretary said: “The Government’s made a very big cut in the money available for school buildings and that worries me a lot for children’s life chances in the future.

“In many parts of the country there aren’t enough school places, particularly in primary schools, whilst other schools are facing crumbling buildings. This has to be addressed. It has to be top priority. It hasn’t been top priority so far.”

When the spokesman for the Department of Education commented on the findings, he took a swipe at the opposition, saying that the funding for building improvement would have been more ample if the previous government hadn’t left behind record deficits. Still, even when operating on a much tighter budget, the department has spent nearly £17 billion to improve school facilities.

The Editor of the Times Educational Supplement, Gerard Kelly, said that the results of the survey clearly showed that even in times of austerity, finding money to improve school buildings should be a priority. But even more importantly, the government should be looking to invest in the quality of the teachers fronting the classrooms if they are really serious about improving the academic outcomes from UK students.