After facing backlash, the Rishi Sunak government has published a list of RAAC-confirmed schools along with a promise of funding repairs.
Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) is a fragile substance used in constructing buildings between the 1950s and the 1990s. They are out of date and are at risk of collapsing. Recently, the UK government ordered more than 100 schools to close due to the RAAC concrete collapse issue.
This prompted an outcry for school building repair funding with many including the National Education Union (NEU) asking for the disclosure of the full list of RAAC confirmed schools.
On September 6, the Department for Education (DfE) released the full list of RAAC-confirmed schools announcing that less than one per cent of educational settings have RAAC.
The UK government underlined that a vast number of UK schools are unaffected as they don’t have any RAAC structure as per DfE surveys done till August 30.
Most UK schools have mitigated the risk with the help of their local councils and education leaders. The 104 RAAC confirmed schools that were under the threat of closing down temporarily have started providing face-to-face learning experiences from the first week of September.
The UK government also highlighted that 20 RAAC-confirmed schools have made arrangements for hybrid work with some students getting off-site remote learning experiences. Some 19 UK schools have delayed their term so that students can join the on-site school after the repair is done.
The DfE surveys have found no RAAC structures in nine UK schools while four schools have entirely moved to remote settings for a few days. The remote settings offered by these schools are temporary solutions to the RAAC concrete collapse problem and won’t last more than a few days.
Caseworkers assigned to RAAC confirmed schools
The UK government has assigned a caseworker for every RAAC-confirmed school and college so that they get custom-made support to address their needs and get them back to face-to-face learning. The government has also made it clear that the funding required for all such school repairs will be given along with the necessary support for temporary accommodation.
So far 95 per cent of UK schools built in the 1950s to 1990s period have sent DfE questionnaire responses. The final 5 per cent of schools are likely to submit their responses soon which might alter the list of RAAC confirmed schools announced.
The government has assured all schools and responsible bodies who notified them of RAAC structures that it will be surveyed and risks would be mitigated in the coming weeks.
The DfE has announced £1.8 million capital funding for the repair of school buildings. The UK government plans to transform 500 schools through the School Rebuilding Program in the next 10 years.
UK colleges and schools will get another £1.5 billion through the Further Education capital transformation fund. This comes at a time when reports of the Prime Minister denying funding for the school building repairs rocked the nation.
The Education Department has sent notices to all concerned authorities to alert the government about the RAAC structure by the end of this week. All DfE questionnaires need to be submitted by this week.
RAAC confirmed schools getting repaired by the best companies
Speaking about the RAAC concrete issue, UK Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, said that the safety of the staff and the students is his priority.
Keegan recognised that parents, teachers and children didn’t expect to begin the new term with such an unease. The Education Secretary thanked the academy trusts, diocese, local councils, schools and colleges for notifying the government about RAAC which made it possible to keep the majority of schools open.
Keegan underlined the measures taken by the UK government to reduce the RAAC concrete collapse risk including the supply of temporary buildings through three national contractors. The government has also roped in the best utility companies in the UK to mend the RAAC structures to reopen the closed classrooms.
The Education Secretary said that the Chancellor has confirmed that the government will bear all costs of repairing the schools including the cost of alternative classroom space.
Keegan has urged people to come forward and inform all they know about RAAC structures so that the government can be sure of its safety and provide the necessary support. The government is expediting surveys for this purpose, revealed the Education Secretary.