Are British school classes filled with CO2?

Nearly one-in-eight schools and colleges have “too high” levels of carbon dioxide, according to a government survey

Pathway to COP26 report

Almost one-in-eight schools and colleges have levels of carbon dioxide that are considered as “too high”.

The staggering finding comes from a Department for Education (DfE) survey on education and childcare settings that have received carbon dioxide monitors to assess ventilation inside teaching spaces.

The report suggested 12% of these schools using the monitors reported “sustained high carbon dioxide reading of 1,500 parts per million (ppm) and above”.

The DfE said the majority of the schools that reported high carbon dioxide readings managed to solve the issue with “quick fixes”, such as opening windows.

Last month, the DfE invited more than 36,000 schools and colleges to participate in the survey.

The survey, which received 4,367 responses, found that 3% of schools with readings of 1,500ppm and above could not fix the problem through “quick fixes or remedial building works”.

Last September, a poll of 2,000 respondents found that 85% of children are concerned about air pollution.

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Adequate ventilation is crucial in the fight against the spread of Covid in classrooms and keeping children in school.

“The government owes all children a safe and comfortable environment in which to learn, with minimum disruption to education. Where air purifiers can help with that they must be made available.

“Schools are currently managing a very difficult situation when it comes to ventilation, not least balancing the need for good ventilation against keeping classrooms sufficiently warm for pupils and staff to be able to learn and work in.

“Clearly this is a dynamic situation and as schools get used to using the carbon dioxide monitors, we could see more identifying issues that need addressing. It is vital that the government ensures that schools are able to escalate these concerns for the foreseeable future and that they are able to continue to apply for air cleaning devices if they are needed.”

ELN has approached the Department for Education to further comment on the findings of the survey.

If you enjoyed this story you can sign up to our weekly email for Energy Live News – and if you’re interested in hearing more about the journey to net zero by 2050, you can also sign up to the future Net Zero newsletter. 

Latest Podcast