Education Secretary Gillian Keegan recently visited the Anglo European School in Ingatestone, Essex, which has been affected by unsafe concrete. The school discovered potentially weak concrete known as RAAC earlier this year. Essex has the highest number of schools in the country to have used this material, with about 25 schools currently closed, partially closed, or making alternative arrangements.
The government has identified 147 schools that need to partially or fully shut their buildings due to safety concerns over reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), a lightweight material used in construction between the 1950s and the mid-1990s.
During her visit, Ms. Keegan saw the mitigation measures put in place by the Anglo European School, including the use of temporary buildings and the reinforcement of the roof in the sixth form building. These measures have made the school safe for students to return to. The Department for Education fully funded the construction of the temporary classrooms, which cost £967,000.
The headteacher of the school, Jody Gee, discussed with Ms. Keegan the financial burden that schools face in dealing with this issue. She emphasized that the cost of not ensuring safe and secure educational provision is much higher than the cost of addressing the problem.
Apart from visiting the school, Ms. Keegan also met with local MPs, councillors, and council officers at County Hall to discuss the concrete crisis in Essex. Members of Parliament raised concerns about the extent of the problem and asked for assurances that schools would receive the necessary funding.
Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) was primarily used in flat roofing, floors, and walls as an affordable alternative to standard concrete. However, its short lifespan has led to issues in permanent buildings.