Today, 174 schools in England have “crumbly” RAAC concrete, according to the Department for Education.
By Rhiannon James
Published: | Update:
The number of schools in England where RAAC concrete was found rose from 147 to 174, the Department for Education said.
This means more schools with collapse-prone reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete could potentially move to remote learning, with some still awaiting assessment.
Thousands of students experienced a disrupted return to school earlier this month as many schools were ordered to fully or partially close buildings to make emergency repairs.
One principal said disruption could continue until 2025, due to the scale of repairs needed at his school.
Pupils at Stepney All Saints Church of England Secondary School are now learning remotely after their school was added to the list.
Another 23 schools are partially closed and must move to pandemic-style distance learning.
Pupils at Stepney All Saints Church of England Secondary School in London are now learning remotely after their school was added to the list.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan (pictured) has previously said there is uncertainty over whether schools are safe.
The rest of the new schools that have been given the RAAC in the past two weeks include Basildon Church of England Primary School, Farnborough Technology College and Grantham College – but these remain open.
Crumbling concrete is a lightweight material that was primarily used in flat roofs, but also in floors and walls, between the 1950s and 1990s. Concerns about the material’s weaknesses have existed for years.
The Department for Education has been investigating the potential risk posed by RAAC since late 2018 after the roof of a primary school collapsed that year in Kent.
The Institution of Structural Engineers says RAAC should only be replaced if it is judged to be in poor condition and high risk, otherwise it can be managed on site.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said new evidence of collapses without any warning had driven her decision to close schools in England while mitigation measures were put in place.
An initial list – which the government was criticized for delaying its publication – contained 147 affected schools.
The government said this list would be updated every two weeks, with an increase to 174 schools announced today – 1.4% of schools have yet to respond to a questionnaire on whether or not they have the RAAC.
Despite this increase, Stepney All Saints Church of England Secondary School is the only educational establishment to have completely closed its doors. Most have been able to introduce mitigation measures to allow students to return to school safely.
A section recorded inside Parks Primary School in Leicester which was affected by substandard reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete
Work is underway to resolve issues with autoclaved reinforced aerated concrete (RAAC) at Hornsey School for Girls in London.
Nicola Bennett, headteacher of Crossflatts Primary School in West Yorkshire, said in a letter earlier this month that after a “forensic examination” of the entire school, “half the building” contained of the RAAC.
She was forced to close three classrooms, the kitchen, some toilets, offices and the staff room.
She said: “As we have identified a very large number of RAACs, I have been informed that repair work on half of the affected building would be a huge undertaking and would therefore take a long time. I have currently been informed that our school will return to full operation by September 2025.”
The last-minute rush left thousands of families stressed and wondering why the problem wasn’t resolved before the start of the fall term.
Schools Minister Baroness Barran and Department for Education Permanent Secretary Susan Acland-Hood are due to be questioned by the all-party education select committee on the issue later today.
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