RAAC: 43 more schools found to have crumbly concrete, government announces
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The Department for Education (DfE) announced the update to the long-running saga around reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) on Thursday (19 October), renewing fears around disruption to the education of pupils who have already had to suffer through the pandemic and teacher strikes.
Many schools had to fully or partially shut at the beginning of the new academic year in September, with thousands of students forced to return to remote learning. Even as we approach the half-term break, some have still not returned to normal teaching - with education unions calling out the government for not offering a clear timeline for when repair work will be completed.
The DfE was also criticised over the delay in publishing the latest figures. Initially, ministers promised to update the list of schools affected by RAAC every two weeks, but Thursday's (19 October) update came more than a month after the previous one.
The crisis surrounding RAAC - a concrete made popular in the 1970s which has since been revealed as "crumbly" and "prone to collapse" - first began when, in 2022, the DfE issued a questionnaire to all schools in England which asked them to identify whether they suspected they had RAAC.
As of Thursday (19 October), 99.9% of schools and colleges have responded, according to Education Secretary Gillian Keegan. She said she is in contact with the 17 schools which are still yet to respond to the questionnaire.
In a statement following the new figure of affected schools, Keegan said: "I want to reassure all pupils, parents, and staff that this government is doing whatever it takes to support our schools and colleges in responding to RAAC and minimise disruption to education."
However, some remained unconvinced, with Daniel Kebede, NEU general secretary, remarking: "The reluctance to publish on time speaks volumes, demonstrating that there is a failure at the heart of government to take seriously the various crises facing education. It should not have to fall to the NEU to chase the DfE for information they pledged to regularly provide.”
The Labour Party also took the opportunity to condemn the government, with shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson commenting: “The drip, drip of schools being added to the RAAC list is yet more evidence of chaos from a Tory Party government that has no grip on the extent of crumbling school buildings.
“It’ll be no surprise to parents that with ministers overseeing such a shambles they have published this ‘fortnightly’ update two weeks late. The defining image of 13 years of Conservative government is children cowering under steel props to stop the roof falling in."
The schools which are been added to the list are:
- Atherton St George's CofE Primary School
- Bushey and Oxhey Infant School
- Camborne College (part of Cornwall College)
- Cann Hall Primary School
- Cheddington Combined School
- Christ Church Church of England Academy
- Churchfield CofE Academy
- Crossflatts Primary School
- Dean Trust Rose Bridge
- Dixons Broadgreen Academy
- Ellesmere Port Catholic High School, a Voluntary Academy
- Elm Hall Primary School
- Exmouth Community College
- Golden Flatts Primary School
- Gordano School
- Greenway Junior School
- Havant Academy
- Kings College Guildford
- Knuzden St Oswald's Church of England Primary Academy
- Links Academy
- Manningtree High School
- Newmarket Academy
- Peterborough College (part of Inspire Education Group)
- Priory Primary School, Bicknacre
- Shelley College, A Share Academy
- Shoeburyness High School
- Sir William Borlase's Grammar School
- Southview School
- Spring Meadow Primary School & School House Nursery
- St Aloysius RC College
- St Anne's Catholic Primary School
- St Bernard's RC Primary School, Bolton
- St Edward's Catholic Academy
- St Mary Magdalene CofE Primary School
- St Mary's Priory RC Infant School
- St Stephen and All Martyrs' CofE School, Lever Bridge
- Stowupland High School
- Thameside Primary School
- The Grove Primary Academy
- The Magna Carta School
- Watford Grammar School for Boys
- Westside School
- Winchmore School