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September 2023

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UK Department for Education Acts on RAAC Threat, School Closures Loom

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Over 150 schools across the United Kingdom are facing closures due to the risk of their buildings collapsing. The country’s Department for Education has identified 156 schools with structures containing Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC), a material commonly used from the 1950s to the mid-1990s, which is now known to be prone to crumbling.

While most affected schools can continue in-person learning because the problematic concrete is found in only a small part of the buildings, some may need temporary closures. In the worst cases, entire schools may have to shut down. However, Schools Minister Nick Gibb assured that classrooms with ceilings propped up by steel girders remain safe for students.

This development has caused disruption as millions of students are returning to school after the summer holidays, and the school year has already been affected by teacher strikes.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan emphasized the importance of ensuring the safety of children and staff in schools. The government’s plan aims to minimize the impact on student learning and provide schools with the necessary funding and support to address the RAAC issue.

Nevertheless, education officials and unions have criticized the government’s timing, with accusations of negligence. The Association of School and College Leaders pointed out that authorities had been aware of the RAAC-related structural risks since at least 2018, calling the government’s delayed action a “scandal.”

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