Home Business News More than 100 schools in England to close immediately over fears they will ‘very likely’ collapse

More than 100 schools in England to close immediately over fears they will ‘very likely’ collapse

by LLB staff reporter
31st Aug 23 3:45 pm

Schools across England have been told to close immediately over fears they could collapse if they were made with a certain type of concrete, it is expected the government is set to make an announcement.

In June the National Audit Office said there is a risk of death or injury and warned the risk of collapse is “very likely and critical.”

The specific type of concrete has been called “reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete” (RAAC) which is a lightweight form of concrete.

The Department for Education (DfE) said that the “vast majority of schools and colleges will be unaffected by this change” and Labour slammed the move as “staggering display of Tory incompetence.”

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said, “Nothing is more important than making sure children and staff are safe in schools and colleges, which is why we are acting on new evidence about RAAC now, ahead of the start of term.

“We must take a cautious approach because that is the right thing to do for both pupils and staff.

“The plan we have set out will minimise the impact on pupil learning and provide schools with the right funding and support they need to put mitigations in place to deal with RAAC.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said, “This is an absolutely staggering display of Tory incompetence as they start a fresh term by failing our children again.

“Dozens of England’s schools are at risk of collapse with just days before children crowd their corridors. Ministers have been content to let this chaos continue for far too long.

“It’s long past time the secretary of state got a grip on her department.”

Following surveys two schools in Bradford were partially closed as they found there was weak concrete within the buildings.

Sue Lowndes, Bradford Council’s assistant director schools and learning, said, “We are putting plans in place for those two schools to make sure no one is put at risk and also to minimise any disruption to children’s education.

“We know how important it is to make sure children can continue at school. Headteachers at the affected schools are working with parents and staff so we can keep them informed of the changes that are being put in place.”

Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the NAHT, the union representing school leaders told the Guardian, “NAHT has repeatedly raised concerns about these buildings for a long time now, so while this news is shocking, sadly it is not hugely surprising.

“What we are seeing here are the very real consequences of a decade of swingeing cuts to spending on school buildings.

“The government is right to put the safety of pupils and staff first – if the safety of buildings cannot be guaranteed, there is no choice but to close them so urgent building work can take place.

“But there is no escaping the fact that the timing of this couldn’t be worse, with children due to return from the summer holidays next week.

“This will put school leaders under tremendous pressure as they have to scramble to organise alternative accommodation.”

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