Partner and Head Social Care
As you will no doubt be well aware by now, the Government have instigated some emergency school closures due to the potential failure of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in school buildings. For details of what has led to this and access to useful links about the current situation see our associated article using this link: Back to School? - Maybe not! 01 Sep 2023 - Article from Forbes Solicitors.
If you have been contacted by the Government that your school is affected, you should be provided with a case manager to assist you through the process but essentially you will be required to bring into effect your business continuity plan. The following is not an exhaustive list, but certainly some things to consider;
- Identify alternative location to move teaching to for all or a proportion of your students and staff - do you have sufficient space within existing buildings and/or school grounds to accommodate temporary buildings? If not, are other locally based public buildings available for use and suitable which would accommodate a temporary classroom?
- Ensure clear and consistent communication is provided to all stakeholders including teaching staff and parents/guardians on the schools strategy and prepare to address concerns on the subject from parents.
- Ensure that any identified new location is appropriately risk assessed and insured.
- Contact your own insurer to advise of changes and ensure relevant coverage is in place.
- If moving children around the school estate, and using an area not previously used for teaching purposes, ensure the area is risk assessed and any safety requirements communicated appropriately to all.
- Ensure closed areas are sealed off and monitored to ensure no accidental entry.
- Liaise with your case manager about timescales for repair, capital funding of repairs and how best to fund the changes required.
If you have not yet been contacted, consider the following;
- Has your school completed and returned the government questionnaire on this issue? If not complete it now. Surveys of RAAC will be prioritised based on the answers that are provided to the questionnaire. A link to this can be found here Everything you need to know about the new guidance on RAAC in education settings - The Education Hub (blog.gov.uk)
- Whilst you are waiting for a response consider the following;
- Was your school or part of your school built between 1950 and 2000? If so it could contain RAAC
- Things to consider on visual inspection might include
- Deflection - the middle of the panel appearing warped when considered with its ends
- Water pooling, particularly on roofs, revealing a dip in the panel
- Short end bearings, providing minimal support.
- Cut or broken panels
- Evidence of water ingress
- Building work that was not part of the initial construction - this could have resulted in cut panels and reduced support
- Evidence of fallen debris
In the meantime, if you feel there may be risks in your building you may want to consider implementing;
- No walk zones in concerning areas or on RAAC roofs
- Removal of pooling and immediate work on drainage issues
- Daily visual inspections
- Secondary or remedial supports until a full assessment can be completed
- Removal of any concerning individual panels.
The Government have stated that settings with suspected RAAC will be brought forward for surveying. They hope to have all schools currently suspected as containing RAAC surveyed in a matter of weeks.
Where RAAC is confirmed, the Government have stated that they will provide rapid support to schools on the advice of structural engineers, which includes providing capital funding for essential works to remove any immediate risk and, where necessary, the provision of temporary buildings. This is fully funded by the Department for Education.
For more information contact Kella Bowers in our Education department
via email or phone on 01254 222437.
Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
Learn more about our Education department here
Back to School? - Maybe not!
What is RAAC and how can it impact the education sector?