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Even more than 150 schools may be at risk of collapsing walls, minister admits

The schools ministers has warned that more students could be impacted by the presence of dangerous concrete in their buildings after over 100 schools are seeing teaching disrupted.

i exclusively revealed on Thursday morning that 156 schools had been contacted by the Department for Education (DfE) warning them that their buildings contain dangerous reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

104 of these schools require urgent action to ensure the safety of their buildings, with thousands of children facing the prospect of returning to home learning while work is completed.

Schools minister Nick Gibb admitted on Friday morning that “there may be more” schools affected by the presence of RAAC.

“We are putting large amounts of capital into the school estate to improve the condition and, by the way, RAAC applies only in the period [between] the 1950s and the 1990s, so schools built or extended before that period or afterwards – which is about half the school estate – will not even need to consider whether they have RAAC,” he told GB News.

He added that DfE had been working on “surveys and evidence-gathering since 2022” but conceded that “there could be more” school buildings found that are at risk of collapse.

But Mr Gibb insisted that parents should not worry about sending their children back to school.

“Parents will be informed by the school. We were speaking to schools yesterday, some more today, and then schools are telling parents what action they are taking.”

He added: “We now are taking a cautious approach. It is a very cautious approach based on a number of cases that emerged over the summer.”

The official DfE advice, Mr Gibb said, was that buildings or rooms containing RAAC should be “taken out of use”.

The schools minister went on to explain why the Government has issued the warning with only days to go before the start of the new term.

“The decision is being taken now because over the summer, evidence has emerged about buildings in this country and in other countries – not just schools – where reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) that was considered to be non-critical, actually turned out to fail,” he added.

“I know parents and children will be frustrated by this but our paramount concern is the safety of children and staff in those schools.”

Schools which have been told they are affected by RAAC have been forced to return students to remote learning or erect portacabins in playgrounds.

The Government will not provide funding for emergency classroom accommodation or transport alternatives.

It has sparked a scramble for headteachers to draw up contingency plans just days before students are set to return from the summer holidays.

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