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Government must come clean over scale of Raac, unions demand as further 27 schools identified

THE government must come clean over the scale of crumbling concrete in schools, unions demanded today, after another 27 buildings in England were identified with having reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac).

It brings to 174 the number of education settings in England where the collapse-risk material has been found as of September 14.

The updated list by the Department for Education (DfE) suggests 24 schools and colleges are offering some remote learning because of the sub-standard concrete — with some pupils forced to work in portacabins.

National Education Union general secretary Daniel Kebede said that the number is certain to grow as other schools are properly inspected.  

He said: “There is still a lack of clarity and timeframe from government on when all schools at risk will be investigated by qualified structural engineers to assess the extent of the problem and the measures that need to be put in place to rectify the presence of Raac.

“Nor has there been a deadline set to clear Raac from every school.

“It is impossible to assess the progress the DfE is making without answers to these questions.”

Mr Kebede praised schools for their responses, but said they should “never have been put in this position.”

He said: “It is the product of years of neglect by a government unwilling to prioritise education — content to allow the school estate to drift into a parlous state.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said that a clear plan to properly repair or replace buildings was still needed.

“Propping up ceilings with metal poles is clearly not a serious option in the medium or long term,” he said.

“Too many schools have been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair and the current crisis is just one symptom of a problem that has been long in the making.”

Unison head of education Mike Short said that ministers are not revealing the true scale of the problem and that at-risk schools remain in the dark.

“Ministers must come clean, be honest with parents and staff, and give schools clear guidance about what they should do — not leave them stuck in limbo,” he said.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson called on the government to ensure that no child will have to return to remote learning.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan claimed children at a school affected by Raac were “petitioning” to stay in the portacabins as they “preferred them to the classroom.”


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