Impact of Carillion collapse on schools

Services at hundreds of schools could face uncertainty after the collapse of Carillion.

The firm provides meals as well as cleaning contracts and maintenance services to many schools across the country.

Headteachers said that schools should not encounter problems as the Government has announced it will deliver public sector services, but added that they will be “monitoring the situation closely”.

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According to the firm’s website, it delivers more than 32,000 school meals every day to UK primary and secondary schools.

PIC: PA

It also says it cleans over 468,000 square metres of property across 245 schools, provides mechanical, electrical and fabric maintenance services to 683 schools and facilities management to 875 schools.

However the Department for Education insisted that Carillion has contracts that cover less than 250 schools in England.

In the wake of the announcement that Carillion has entered liquidation, one local authority - Oxfordshire County Council - said it had taken over services provided by the company, including school meals, and has put the fire service on standby to deliver them.

It said around 18,000 students at 90 schools in the area are supplied with dinners by Carillion.

PIC: PA

Alexandra Bailey, Oxfordshire’s director for property, assets and investment, said: “We expect school staff will be in work as normal today but if this doesn’t happen we will provide school lunches to schools needing support, and the fire service are on standby to deliver them. We are confident no child will go hungry at school.”

Barnsley Council said it is reassuring parents, children and staff that its secondary schools “will continue to operate as normal in the light of the collapse of Carillion, who currently provide facility management services such as caretaking, cleaning and maintenance to these schools”.

Julia Harnden, funding specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, (ASCL) said: “The Government has announced that it will continue to deliver all public sector services following the insolvency of Carillion and this should mean that services provided to schools continue without any problems.

“But we will be monitoring the situation closely and we will be talking to the Department for Education and updating members with any further information. In the meantime it would be useful for schools to confirm with their providers that there is no issue with any services.”

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Parents and pupils will be alarmed at the prospect that school lunches may suddenly not be provided and their schools may not be clean and safe.

“Headteachers and other school staff face another strain on their excessive workloads as they try and make short-term contingency plans and new arrangements for the long-term, while Carillion staff working in and for schools will be anxious about their job security and their pensions.

“While the Government must protect the employment and pensions of Carillion’s public sector workers it must also take a long hard look at its encouragement of private sector involvement in schools and the unnecessary risks being taken with children’s education and wellbeing.”

Carillion previously sponsored an academy trust, but the Carillion Academies Trust recently separated from the firm after it decided that the Trust was in a position to develop without the sponsorship of a commercial company.