Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working closely with schools across our constituency following updated guidance from the Department for Education on Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC).
Thankfully all of our local schools were able to open for the start of term. After a meeting with headteachers it became clear that most of them have mitigations in place to reinforce the affected buildings with RAAC and I am supporting the few schools that have been unable to use certain buildings until surveys are completed.
It is important to note that fewer than 1% or schools across the UK are affected. The media went into a frenzy on the issue because they were unaware that since 2018 the Government has been proactively working with local authorities, including Essex County Council and trusts to establish which schools have RAAC and support them to reinforce the affected buildings.
What is new is the reason for the department’s recent change in guidance on RAAC. This was because, over the summer buildings previously identified by surveyors as not ‘critical’ were reclassified. As a precaution and for the safety of pupils and staff, the guidance was changed so all buildings with RAAC, regardless of if they were deemed critical must have mitigation measures in place.
The response by our local headteachers is a testament to their hard work and commitment to pupils and our school communities. My priority now is assisting them to ensure as little disruption as possible moving forward.
No doubt there will be attention-grabbing headlines in the media and some people will seek to create mischief and spread misinformation which only increase anxiety in our communities.
For facts on what is going on, the Department for Education has published a Q&A which will answer constituent’s questions on RAAC and how the Government will be supporting schools with dedicated caseworkers and funding here.
I am also available to answer any further queries or concerns, via email at email@example.com