The Department for Education cannot say when colleges will get promised carbon dioxide monitors after the first delivery schedule showed that none would receive them within the next three weeks.

Last month education secretary Gavin Williamson announced that his department would provide around 300,000 CO2 monitors to all state-funded education settings from September to help tackle poor ventilation.

He said on Monday that the first deliveries would start this week, with priority given to special schools and alternative provision in the first phase.

All eligible settings are “expected” to start receiving monitors during the autumn term, and the DfE said schools should get their full allocations in one delivery. But the picture is different for colleges.

The first official delivery schedule showed that, at present, 1,008 schools are due to receive around 13,241 monitors over the next three weeks.

When asked by FE Week why no colleges were on the list and when they could expect monitors, the DfE could not offer a date. It said colleges should expect to receive “at least partial allocations” this term.

The spokesperson added that the schedule sent out by the DfE provides a forward look of deliveries covering the next three weeks and that specialist FE colleges will be prioritised “in one of the next delivery schedules”.

As previously revealed by this publication, independent training providers are excluded from this Covid-19 safety scheme.

Analysis by Schools Week, FE Week’s sister publication, shows that the delivery of CO2 monitors in the first three weeks of this term will cover less than 5 per cent of the 21,602 state schools in England, and include just over 4 per cent of the total number of devices promised.

The news comes after unions questioned the government’s decision to wait until the start of the academic year to begin distribution.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “While we welcome the provision of carbon dioxide monitors, the fact is that this programme should have happened a lot earlier and it has taken an eternity to reach even this modest point on the issue of ventilation.

“The fact that this was only announced just before the start of the autumn term has meant many colleges and schools will not receive devices until deep in the autumn term, when they really need every possible mitigation in place as soon as possible.”

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