School Closures Triggered by RAAC Concrete Safety Concerns

4th September 2023

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Nigel Payne - Flat Roof Specialist

In a sweeping move that has sent shockwaves through the education sector, the Department for Education (DfE) has come under increasing pressure to disclose the comprehensive list of schools mandated to shut down due to grave safety concerns.

RAAC School Closure List

Across the nation, students find themselves abruptly switching to online learning or temporary facilities, as the government has directed the immediate closure of over 100 schools, citing apprehensions related to a particular type of concrete known as reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).  


What is RAAC?

RAAC, or reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, emerged as a construction marvel in the mid-20th century, revolutionising the building industry in the UK during the post-war years. Its defining feature, an impressive 80% air content, made it an attractive choice for constructing educational institutions and various structures. This lightweight concrete promised cost-efficiency, ease of use, and improved insulation properties, contributing to its widespread adoption.

However, the passage of time has uncovered a hidden vulnerability within RAAC. Recent investigations have raised red flags regarding its structural integrity. The concrete, once hailed for its innovation, is now facing scrutiny due to its susceptibility to structural failure. This revelation has sent shockwaves through the construction and education sectors, prompting urgent reassessment and remediation efforts to ensure the safety of buildings constructed with RAAC.

As authorities grapple with this challenge, the legacy of RAAC serves as a stark reminder of the need for continuous monitoring and evaluation of construction materials to safeguard the integrity and longevity of our built environment.

How many Schools are affected and what are the effects?

It is not totally clear yet the full extent however the government has reported that a total of 156 schools in England feature RAAC elements, with 104 of them requiring immediate remediation while 52 have already undergone repair work. In parallel, 35 schools in Scotland have also been affected, although no closure decisions have been announced as yet.

In response to mounting calls for transparency, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has pledged to release the names of the affected schools in the near future. Teaching unions have not minced their words, denouncing the ongoing disruptions in the education landscape as "nothing short of a scandal."

The repercussions of these closures are far-reaching, causing significant upheaval for both students and parents. Cancelled lessons and the transition to online or temporary classrooms have become the norm for many schools, prompting some parents to take leave from work to care for their children.

The government, meanwhile, has assured the public that it is diligently working to expedite the reopening of affected schools once safety concerns are adequately addressed. However, the timeline for this critical endeavour remains uncertain.

In the interim, students and parents are encouraged to maintain composure and adhere to the guidance provided by their respective educational institutions.


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