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Redbridge Council Leader calls for funding to help schools impacted by RAAC

Redbridge Council Leader, Cllr Jas Athwal is calling for funding help to support schools impacted by RAAC (credit: Redbridge Council)

The Leader of Redbridge Council is calling on the government to provide funding for schools impacted by RAAC, a type of concrete prone to collapse.

Cllr Jas Athwal is demanding the government makes funding available to schools to organise essential surveys to determine the existence of RAAC on school sites.

In a statement, Redbridge Council says: “Concerns around RAAC in schools and public buildings have already caused significant disruption, necessitating emergency visual inspections and, in some cases, alternative provision. Delays to professional surveys caused by lack of government funding will cause further unacceptable disruption to the education of children and young people.”

The Council Leader wrote to the Secretary of State for Education yesterday (Wednesday, 6 September) to call for immediate action to address the RAAC crisis.

He said: “The government’s failure to address systemic underinvestment in school estates across the country has led to a national crisis impacting untold numbers of students, schools, and wider school communities.

“As the Leader of Redbridge Council and a parent of children who attended schools in my borough, I share the deep frustration of families across Redbridge who face uncertainty over their children’s education this week. Our council has stepped up support for local schools, and we are doing all we can to guide them through this incredibly challenging period. However, this crisis necessitates an immediate and proportionate government response, which so far has been lacking.

“Schools cannot be expected to conduct visual inspections of their sites and report accurate assessments to the Department for Education; this process is unreliable by its very nature – concrete can be painted over or otherwise disguised – and school staff do not, and should not be expected to, have the expertise to determine what is RAAC purely by sight.

“The government must announce funding for professional surveys conducted at schools as soon as possible.

“The safety of children, young people, and school staff must be treated as a government priority and not delegated either to schools themselves or to local authorities who, following over a decade of austerity, face our funding crises.”

Nine schools have so far indicated to the Council that they may have buildings with RAAC.

Visual inspections were conducted by school site managers, based on DfE guidance. To confirm the presence of RAAC, qualified surveyors must conduct a full investigation.

In Redbridge, all schools have been able to open to students this week. Of the schools that suspect they may have RAAC, alternative arrangements have been put in place.

The Council says “In the meantime, we are continuing to work closely with the senior leadership teams of our affected schools to reduce and mitigate any disruption to their teaching.”

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