School building. Photo: David Anstiss / CC
School building. Photo: David Anstiss / CC

Secondary school support worker

In the past three years, 39 schools in England have either partially or fully closed due to their buildings becoming unsafe. 13 years of Tory government have left us with underfunded schools with crumbling buildings.

This has a real impact on children’s education. I know. I’ve seen it.

Five years ago, children at the school I work in would have had the chance to be in a school play or concert. In bad weather, they did PE indoors.

Wet dinner time meant sitting around a table with friends, chatting, drawing or playing card games. It was used for assemblies, drama lessons, and doubled as a dining hall. As a small secondary school, our hall had many uses.

Our hall is now closed off. Due to the roof being unsafe, it has been out of bounds since partway through the pandemic.

What are we left with?

We have one sports hall, which is also used for exams. If the weather is bad, either boys or girls can do physical PE lessons. The rest work in a classroom on ‘theory’.

When it rains at breaktimes, students stand or sit in the corridors as the dining area we have isn’t big enough to accommodate all of our students.

There is no stage, no lighting, and no sound equipment for concerts either. Drama lessons take place in classrooms where there is often little room for physical acting.

This generation is used to missing out. They don’t complain about it. Many don’t know any different.

But the reality is that these children are expected to put up with fewer facilities and fewer life experiences than the cohorts that came before them. Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak’s alma mater boasts a new sports centre, a music hall, and a 240-seat theatre, complete with its own wardrobe manager.

We can’t continue to tolerate this level of inequality. Our children deserve better.