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Seventeen more schools and colleges found to have collapse-risk concrete

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan told MPs on the education select committee that all responsible bodies of settings with buildings built in the target era have now submitted responses (PA)
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan told MPs on the education select committee that all responsible bodies of settings with buildings built in the target era have now submitted responses (PA)

The number of schools and colleges in England where collapse-risk concrete has been found has risen, the Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed.

Another 17 schools and colleges in England have been identified as having reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) on site, taking the total to 231 as of November 27.

The list suggests three secondary schools are providing a mix of face-to-face lessons and remote learning because Raac is present in their buildings.

Bramhall High School in Stockport, Cheshire, St Thomas a Becket Catholic Secondary School in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and St Clere’s School in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, are currently offering some remote learning.

Abingdon and Witney College in Oxfordshire was identified by the DfE as a new case where it said mitigations are still under discussion.

The previous update from the DfE showed there were 214 settings with Raac – and 12 were offering “hybrid” education of face-to-face and remote learning – as of October 16.

Last year, the DfE issued a questionnaire to responsible bodies for all schools in England to ask them to identify whether they suspected they had Raac.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan told MPs on the EDucation Select Committee that all responsible bodies of settings with buildings constructed in the target era have now submitted responses.

She said: “So we have 100% of the questionnaires from the settings in the target era – that was the years that could have contained Raac. All the first surveys are complete.”

Ms Keegan told MPs on Wednesday that “231 currently have confirmed Raac”.

“Now we do expect there will be some more because, as we go back for follow-up survey work, we will identify a few more,” she said.

The Education Secretary added: “There will only be probably a handful more cases because it’s definitely massively slowed down.”

The DfE’s top official, permanent secretary Susan Acland-Hood, told MPs on the committee that “41 settings now have temporary buildings on site”.

She said: “There will still be settings that we’ve identified later in the process that need temporary buildings that won’t have them yet.

“There will also be settings that didn’t need temporary buildings in order to get all pupils back into face-to-face education but might still benefit from some specialist units in order to make sure they can deliver the full curriculum.”

Ms Acland-Hood added: “We’ve got about 110 schools where we think mitigation is the right approach rather than temporary buildings.

“And we’ve also got schools where it may be better for them to share facilities with a nearby school for things like science labs because the lead time on specialist temporary units is long because it tends to be built bespoke by the Portakabin company.”

Scores of schools and colleges in England were told by the Government to fully or partly close their buildings just days before the start of the autumn term amid concerns about collapse-prone Raac.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “It is pretty embarrassing for the Government that we are now almost at the end of the autumn term and it is still adding schools to this list – and the Secretary of State has today told the Education Committee that this figure will continue to rise.

“We were promised urgency and immediate repairs, and yet there are still schools waiting for mitigations to be put in place.

“This long overdue update shows the continuing disruption facing many pupils, parents and schools.

“It underlines the Government’s failure to set out a timetable for how long this will continue, let alone the long-term plan and fresh investment desperately needed to ensure the school estate is safe and fit for purpose.”