Schools minister says concrete issues are not widespread
The Department for Education (DfE) is expected tosoon release a complete list of dozens of schools that will be closed for at least the start of the new term. It has been admitted that many schools that may be affected don’t know for certain whether they are affected and will be able to reopen this week.
In anticipation of the disruption, some schools are using temporary accommodation or returning to remote online lessons, although the Government has told schools that pandemic-style lessons should be a “last resort”.
This morning, shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said The Government must publish a list of buildings affected as Labour plans to force a vote to compel the list’s publication this week.
“Today parents, children, staff up and down the country, will be wondering whether it’s their school building that’s at risk, whether their school building is safe for children to learn in,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said yesterday the department “will publish a list” once the situation is “stable” and every school has been informed.
UK school closures: Full list so far of English buildings too dangerous to reopen
The Department for Education (DfE) has said it will wait to release a full list of school closures as it works to inform parents ahead of the new term.
The department yesterday raised the alarm that hundreds of UK schools have buildings constructed using Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC), a material officials have warned is prone to collapse.
Ministers are now in the process of informing schools whether they will require urgent survey work conducted before the start of the new term.
Schools minister Nick Gibb has admitted that, of the 104 schools facing partial or complete closure, some were still waiting to find out whether they would face disruption this morning.
As he made the media rounds this morning, the minister said parents and pupils should not feel apprehensive or worry about the risks.
And he said his department “will publish a list” once the situation is “stable” and every school has been informed.
But the DfE has still drawn significant criticism for the disruption, with Labour and the National Education Union among organisations slamming the Government.
NEU general secretary Daniel Kebede said: “It is absolutely disgraceful, and a sign of gross Government incompetence, that a few days before the start of term 104 schools are finding out that some or all of their buildings are unsafe and cannot be used.
“To add insult to injury the Government states in its guidance that it will not be covering the costs of emergency temporary accommodation or additional transport.”
Good morning from London. I’m Luke Whelan, I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on the recent school closures. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.
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Furious parents slam ministers for failing to reveal full list of school closures
Furious parents lashed out at ministers for refusing to publish a full list of schools being forced to close because of fears over the safety of their buildings.
Families said they had been put in a “difficult position” after the alarm was raised just days before the term restarts.
Schools minister Nick Gibb has admitted that, of the 104 schools facing partial or complete closure, some were still waiting to find out whether they would face disruption.
He also warned the number could rise and said his department would only publish a list once the situation was “stable” and every school has been informed.
Concrete ‘ticking time bomb’ that has closed schools now hits hospitals
Experts have warned that thousands of other public buildings could also be at risk of collapse from the problem, describing the situation as a “ticking time bomb”.
Courts, police stations, libraries and high-rise buildings may all be affected with repair costs running into billions of pounds.
More than 100 schools and colleges have already been ordered to close buildings made with the material that is prone to collapse.
MPs ‘deeply concerned’ dangerous concrete will close hospitals on top of scores of schools
MPs have told Express.co.uk that they fear that the scandal engulfing school buildings over dangerous concrete could also see hospitals and other public buildings close.
Ministers have moved today to provide reassurance on hospitals which were built with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in the 1960s to 1980s in a bid to calm anger from MPs.
In total seven hospitals have been identified with RAAC which is now considered unsafe for public buildings but sources close to Health Secretary Steve Barclay have pointed out that he made a statement in May with a plan to add replacing those hospitals to the 40 new ones promised and make them a priority.
London schools taking ‘extraordinary measures’ to stay open after dangerous concrete found
Three schools in Tower Hamlets, East London, are taking “extraordinary measures” to keep their classrooms open.
The schools – which have not been named – maintain that they will not shut down their schools, despite finding the dangerous RAAC in the building, MyLondon reports.
Councillor Sirajul Islam of Bethnal Green East said that three schools were able to cordon off the affected areas, allowing the schools to keep children and staff safe while work was carried out.
He issued a scathing assessment of the Government’s handling of the school’s concrete chaos.
Councillor Islam said: “With just days to go before the start of the new term parents have got enough to worry about without having to find out if their child’s school is safe.
“It is staggering that ministers have waited until now to act on this issue, and it is appalling that thousands of children across the country face chaos and disruption to their education because they cannot start at their own school next week.”
At least three schools in Greater Manchester have dangerous crumbling concrete
At least three schools in Greater Manchester have confirmed that they have potentially dangerous crumbling concrete.
Two academy schools – Sale Grammar on Marsland Road in Sale, and Altrincham College on Green Lane in Timperley – will be closed due to the concrete, according to Manchester Evening News.
A primary school – the Diocese of Salford – confirmed it had RAAC present in the building but insisted it would not lead to class closures.
Four more schools are at risk of closure while Bolton Council carries out further investigation.
Parents of children at 156 schools at risk of crumbling concrete have been informed
Lady Diana Barran, an education minister and Conservative Party life peer, has revealed that every parent of a child impacted by the concrete safety fears has now been told.
She told the BBC: “If you’re a parent and you’re listening to this show and you haven’t yet been informed by your school that means your school has not got this reinforced concrete and you just go ahead as normal next week.
“I’m sure many schools will be contacting parents anyway just to re-assure them even if they don’t have the concrete and that’s absolutely right, but we felt it’s really important that the schools that have got the concrete communicate directly with the parents in their school and can explain to them their plans which will obviously evolve over the weekend and next week.”
It is thought that the number of schools confirmed to have RAAC – which stands for reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete – could go up as more surveys of buildings are carried out.
London school to ‘resolve’ concrete danger by Tuesday
A North London school building is among those affected by the dangerous concrete that has sparked nationwide safety fears.
While many pupils will be forced to shift to online learning or in temporary facilities as repair work is carried out, St Gregory’s Science College in Brent has pledged to resolve the issue by Monday.
An official at the school said the building will be made safe before pupils return on Tuesday next week, MyLondon reports.
Parents of children with special needs dealt hammer blow over schools closures
A school for children with physical and learning disabilities is among those set to be shut next week.
The head teacher of Kingsdown School in Southend said she would be holding “difficult conversations” with families of pupils, who require special equipment housed at the school.
Louise Robinson said: “We’re hoping that a solution can be found that allows us to open the school, at least partially, but that entirely relies on ensuring the safety of our pupils and staff, and approval by DfE.”
Head teacher network slams Government’s last-minute order to close schools
The North East school network has issued a scathing response to the Department for Education’s last-minute decision to close schools – just days before the new school term starts.
The timing of the decision to issue guidance just days before the start of term has angered unions and school groups.
Chris Zarraga, director of Schools North East, questioned whether the Government was “serious about levelling-up”.
Mr Zarraga said a strategic plan to support schools in the North East was severely needed.
He explained: “Schools urgently need a strategic plan that supports the many challenges that North East schools are facing, including the condition of school buildings, with sustained funding and clear communication with the education profession.”
Two schools in the North East – Ferryhill School and St Bede’s – are thought to be among those affected, according to ChronicleLive.
First West Midlands school announces ‘possible disruption’
Parents at a Black Country school have been warned of a ‘possible disruption’ to the start of the new school year.
Dangerous concrete known as reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, or RAAC, was found at Wood Green Academy in Wednesbury.
A survey carried out at the Wood Green Road school over the summer revealed the presence of the dangerous material in part of the school.
More pictures from Parks Primary School
Additional pictures show the extent of construction efforts at Parks Primary School in Leicester.
School administrators have cut off several rooms, and workers have started gutting rooms ahead of construction.
Parks has dealt with RAAC since May this year, when, after the material was found, classes were relocated.
The school also had to borrow rooms from other institutions.
Inside damaged primary school built with RAAC
Pictures have emerged of the interior of a primary school where buildings were constructed using RAAC.
Parks Primary School in Leicester is among the schools requiring reconstructive work after the material was discovered.
Pictures show parts of the school’s building cordoned off, with construction work evident.
In one photo, a staircase can be seen blocked off with red tape, and scaffolding at the top.
In another, a bucket sits in the middle of a school gym, with sections of concrete scattered in the background.
Mounting blame on Conservative Government
Blame for the RAAC crisis is being levelled at the Conservative Government, with the latest criticism coming from the Liberal Democrats.
Munira Wilson, the party’s education spokesperson, said the situation “should never have got to this point”.
She told the BBC: “The Government has known about this crumbling concrete for years, but time and again has denied our children the money needed to stop schools from collapsing completely.
“Every propped-up classroom roof is a concrete sign of Conservative neglect of our school buildings.”
Some pupils returning to Covid-era learning
Pupils at some schools shuttered by RAAC discoveries will have to return to Covid-era learning arrangements.
One parent named Phil told the BBC that his children – who were due to return to their Essex school on Monday, September 4 – would need to work from home during the start of the new term.
He told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight the report was “done back in June”, but the school was closed three days before the new term.
He questioned: “Why couldn’t the plans have been put in place prior to this?
“Three days before the start of the new term is not good enough really.”
Hospitals also impacted by RAAC works
Schools aren’t the only sites affected by the RAAC discovery, with other public bodies having found buildings with the potentially dangerous concrete.
Officials have already prioritised two hospitals for urgent rebuilding – West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and James Paget Hospital in Norfolk.
The Government added another five in May, including the Airedale hospital in West Yorkshire, King’s Lynn’ Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire, Mid Cheshire Leighton in Cheshire, and Frimley Park in Surrey.
NHS leaders have pressured the Government to prioritise rebuilding efforts of these sites, citing the potential risks to patients and staff.
24 schools to face complete closure – reports
The PA news agency has reported that 24 schools may need to close because their buildings contain RAAC concrete.
The remainder of the roughly 104 with RAAC are expected to only partially close as construction focuses on specific buildings.
The partial closures could include sections of some sites, classrooms, and even wings of some buildings.
The Sheffield primary school impacted by RAAC fears
A Sheffield primary school has been pictured for the first time since it was found to have buildings with RAAC material.
Abbey Lane Primary School is among the 104 affected by the substandard concrete, with some rooms prone to collapse.
Pictures of the school show workers have erected scaffolding on site, with a tarpaulin covering a central courtyard.
Workers have also been seen carrying construction materials to the school.
Ministers waiting for local authorities to act before releasing list – source
Ministers are waiting for several layers of Government to act on the RAAC situation before they release a public list of schools, a source has said.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, the source said they are working through multiple organisations, including local MPs.
The list will reportedly come once all headteachers, school leadership teams, local MPs and responsible individuals have been told and parents have been informed.
Schools impacted by the concrete concerns – so far
More than 100 schools are confirmed to have been affected by the Government’s recent announcement.
But only a limited list is available so far, with five currently confirmed to have buildings that incorporate the concrete.
The list includes:
– Ferryhill School, County Durham
– Willowbrook Mead Primary Academy, Leicester
– Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School, south London
– Crossflats Primary school, Bradford
– Eldwick Primary School, Bradford
School disruption ‘could continue until 2025’
School disruption could continue until 2025, a parent claims to have been told.
Patrick Moore said his daughter is due to return to Crossflats Primary School in Bradford next week, but RAAC was found in some buildings.
He said parents were informed via email “48 hours ago” that the pupils would lose access to “some computer rooms and cooking facilities”.
While the school will reopen as normal otherwise, Mr Moore added that he was warned disruption “will continue until 2025, or they may have to go to a new location altogether”.
Leicester primary school among those closing due to RAAC fears
A Sheffield primary school is among those closing due to RAAC fears, pictures have shown.
Willowbrook Mead Primary Academy has closed days before the new term begins because parts of its buildings are prone to collapse.
The school will close on Friday, September 1, and on Monday, September 4.
Pictures show workmen arriving at the location today, with vans parked outside the school premises.
List of affected schools will be published – Gibb
Schools Minister Nick Gibb has promised to publish a list of every school affected by the RAAC investigations.
But Mr Gibb said the Department for Education will only publish when parents have heard from schools about potential closures.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the list will come once remediation measures are in place and schools are “stable”.
He said: “We will publish a list – we are talking to schools right now, every school is getting a case worker and will be supported to make the right decision to handle this RAAC issue.
“The schools are then talking to parents, and we want the parents to hear from school, not to read about it in the media first.”
Good morning from London. I’m Liam Doyle, I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on the recent school closures. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.
Email: [email protected]
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