English school buildings closed to protect children’s health

Schools constructed with a particular type of concrete have been forced to shut immediately as they are prone to collapse putting children’s safety at risk.

Today it was announced that over 100 schools have been contacted, days before the new term is about to start, informing them they must shut down in order to fit them with appropriate safety measures.

brown and white concrete building

These include propping up ceilings in buildings made with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC). Guidance issued by the Department for Education (DfE) advised that ‘any space or area with confirmed RAAC should no longer be open without mitigations in place.’

However, despite recognising the problem, the DfE haven’t given any specific timeline for replacing the RAAC, but school leaders have called for an ‘urgent plan’ to fix establishments.

One of the reasons for fixing up school buildings came after a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) in June assessed the risk of injury or death from a school building collapse as ‘very likely and critical’.

In addition, research highlighted concerns for school buildings that still contained RAAC – a lightweight form of concrete prone to collapse, used between the 1950s and 1990s.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said the decision followed ‘new evidence about RAAC’.

Ms Keegan added: ‘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’.

As well as schools closing affecting a child receiving an education – one children will have to be sent to different institutions – it may also affect a child’s mental health. Whilst the six weeks summer holidays are a delight for some children others view it as a very daunting and lonely period. 

Image: Erika Fletcher


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