Schools minister ‘doesn’t know’ how many schools will close after ‘new evidence’ of unsafe concrete emerges

The faculties minister has stated that the emergence of “new proof” over the security of the concrete in some colleges led to yesterday’s announcement in regards to the full or partial closure of over 150 colleges.

Nick Gibb additionally revealed to Sky Information this morning that he doesn’t understand how colleges must utterly shut because of concrete security fears.

It comes after yesterday’s announcement was trigged by new issues over RAAC, a light-weight, bubbly type of concrete that’s normally present in roofs and infrequently in partitions and flooring. 

It was solely in June that ministers launched a government-wide inquiry into the usage of such concrete in public buildings after authorities consideration was first turned to the usage of the concrete in colleges in 2018 following the collapse of the roof of a main college in Kent collapsed.


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The Division for Schooling has stated it contacted 104 extra colleges within the wake of study of latest circumstances after 52 of the 156 academic settings containing the concrete took protecting steps to this point this yr.

The division stated a “minority” might want to “both totally or partially relocate” to different lodging whereas security measures are put in.

The DfE’s steering to varsities stated funding will solely be supplied for works which might be “capital funded” and colleges must pay for rental prices for emergency or non permanent lodging.

Whereas RAAC seems to be like normal concrete, in contrast with the “conventional” strengthened materials, which is often denser, specialists say RAAC is weak and fewer sturdy. The fabric has been favoured in development initiatives previously due to its light-weight thermal properties.

RAAC has a life expectancy of little greater than 30 years, which signifies that buildings constructed from the Fifties to the Nineteen Nineties that haven’t been checked by structural engineers are liable to collapse.

Requested this morning about the issue, Mr Gibb stated: “We don’t know but [how many will have to shut completely]. We’re speaking to the faculties.”

“Most often it will likely be just some buildings or a couple of rooms, or certainly only a cabinet, however in some circumstances it will likely be the entire college. And in these circumstances we will likely be discovering different lodging for the pupils they usually’ll be out of face-to -face schooling for a really quick interval”, he informed Sky Information. 

Mr Gibb stated the typical size of every college closure will “six days”, however added: “We wish it to be even lower than that.”

He additionally confirmed extra colleges are more likely to be closed as not all surveys have are available but.

Prices will likely be lined by the federal government, together with if “within the worst case situation” Portakabins are wanted, he confirmed additionally. 

Mr Gibb admitted that not all colleges have been contacted but, though “the overwhelming majority have”.

He stated: “We’ve been calling them yesterday, however there’s a couple of extra that we’re calling at the moment, and people colleges at the moment are speaking to folks about what’s going to occur of their colleges.”

Requested what the federal government’s message is to affected mother and father and college students, Mr Gibb stated ministers “completely perceive their frustrations”, however stated the precedence needs to be security.

Requested why this announcement was made simply days earlier than the top of the summer season holidays, Mr Gibb insisted the federal government has been “very proactive” having beforehand issued security notices since 2018.

Within the 2021/22 tutorial yr, the federal government surveyed colleges throughout the nation and took motion “the place the RAAC was vital”.

However he stated “new proof emerged” over the summer season, they discovered numerous colleges “the place RAAC we thought was protected, that was not vital in its situation, truly turned out to be unsafe”.

“Due to that rising proof over the summer season, we’ve modified our steering,” he stated.

It has additionally been confirmed that hospitals have additionally been affected by points associated to crumbling concrete. 

In 2021, NHS England hospitals sounded the alarm over supplies utilized in roofs that reached the top of their lifespan greater than a decade in the past, with one hospital compelled to limit the usage of some working theatres to lighter sufferers.

And in 2022, NHS bosses stated that harmful roofs liable to collapse wouldn’t be mounted till 2035. 

“Proper throughout the general public sector, we’re surveying the property”, colleges minister Nick Gibb has informed the BBC. “You’ve heard of a court docket closing at Harrow. We’re taking motion, after all, within the hospital sector as properly”

Shadow schooling secretary Bridget Phillipson has stated: “We haven’t seen the complete record of faculties affected. We don’t know the place they’re, ministers ought to come clear with mother and father and set out the complete scale of the problem that we’re going through.

“I anticipate ministers subsequent week within the Home of Commons to publish that information and inform mother and father and inform the general public precisely the place the issues are.”