Council acting to tackle RAAC in schools

Article dated Friday Sep 1, 2023 at 09:59 AM

Council teams have been working hard over the summer break to survey local authority maintained schools that may have had RAAC used in their construction. This is a national issue which has been identified and which local authorities nationwide are taking action on.

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) is a lightweight form of concrete and was used in the construction of schools, colleges and other buildings from the 1950s until the mid-1990s.

The presence of RAAC has been confirmed in two of our local authority maintained primary schools: Crossflatts Primary School and Eldwick Primary School.

RAAC is very different from traditional concrete and because of the way in which it was made it is much weaker. The estimated duration of RAAC is around 30 years and so much of the construction that used this material is past its life span. Because of this, it is important to identify which buildings contain RAAC so that work can be done to make sure those buildings are structurally safe. RAAC presents no other health hazards.

Council building teams have worked with specialist surveyors to carry out detailed surveys at all 46 Local Authority maintained schools which could potentially have had RAAC present. 

In the two schools affected, access to areas of the schools where RAAC is present is prohibited. Only qualified concrete specialists will be able to access these areas to assess and carry out the required remedial works. At least 8 teaching spaces across both sites have been lost, alongside other staffing facilities across both sites and the loss of the kitchen at Crossflatts.

Education provision will continue at the schools in the short term with alterations to the safe areas so that all children can be accommodated on the school sites. This was the preferred option of both headteachers. These interim alteration works will be finished by 3 September.

A longer term plan is in place to provide temporary classrooms on both school sites.  These have been ordered and, following relevant ground works on both sites should arrive within the next 8-10 weeks at Crossflatts and 14-16 weeks at Eldwick. 

Sue Lowndes, Assistant Director Schools & Learning for Bradford Council, said:

“I want to thank the headteachers and all the staff at the schools involved and also our teams who have worked incredibly hard in a short space of time to make sure that schools are safe and able to open in September.

“We have carried out specialist surveys to make sure we know whether RAAC is present in the school estate that dates from the time when it might have been used in construction. We have only found two schools where RAAC is present.

“We are putting plans in place for those two schools to make sure no one is put at risk and also to minimise any disruption to children’s education. We know how important it is to make sure children can continue at school. Headteachers at the affected schools are working with parents and staff so we can keep them informed of the changes that are being put in place.”

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