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Is sustainability a priority for the Department for Education? How can we make schools and colleges net zero ready? DfE Minister to appear before MPs

13 October 2023

The Environmental Audit Committee will be hearing from Education Minister Baroness Barran as it scrutinises the sustainability policies of the Department for Education (DfE).

The evidence session follows up on the National Audit Office’s (NAO) report, Department for Education: sustainability overview, commissioned by the Committee and published in June 2023. The NAO found that:

  • DfE is taking steps to incorporate sustainability into its new build schools: but net zero schools delivered through the School Rebuilding Programme will only represent 2% of the estate when complete.
  • As it stands, there is no plan in place for achieving the scale of decarbonisation across the education sector that is needed for DfE to make a proportionate contribution to government’s targets.
  • DfE does not yet have a clear view of the sector’s current sustainability position, what interventions offer the best value for money and what it will cost to decarbonise the school estate.

The Committee will wish to discuss the report’s findings with the Minister, and examine how the issues which the NAO has identified are being addressed.

In September 2023 the Government identified 174 cases of schools and colleges constructed with Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC): many had to close amid safety concerns. The Committee is likely to examine how environmental sustainability can be addressed as the RAAC in the schools affected is replaced.


Wednesday 18 October, Committee Room 15, Palace of Westminster

From 14.15:

  • Baroness Barran MBE, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Minister for the School System and Student Finance), Department for Education
  • Dr Jonathan Dewsbury, Director of Capital Operations and Net Zero, Department for Education

Further information

Image: Parliament Copyright