Tag Archives: eduaction

Schools crisis – sheer incompetence

The timing could not have been worse. This is the most stressful part of the school year for teachers and Heads, getting the buildings ready for the new intake, checking all the tech, induction for new staff and planning a term’s worth of lessons. For pupils there is some anticipation and excitement, tinged perhaps with a bit of anxiety, as they prepare to move into a into a new school or a new class next week.

So it beggars belief that the Government should announce this week that a large number of schools in England have defective buildings which must not be used. Oh, and there is no funding to cover the hire and construction of temporary classrooms.

Of course, it would be understandable if this problem had only just come to light, but the Department for Education has known about the potentially defective concrete (RAAC) since 1994, and they knew that the concrete used only has a lifespan of 30 years. It’s a type of lightweight aerated concrete that was presumably cheap to use at the time. In 2018 they sent some vaguely worded warnings to schools but did not provide any advice or means to rectify the fault. So it is not new information that has emerged this week.

And yet some 100 schools were only told yesterday that they have to take immediate mitigating action because of the RAAC in their buildings. In some cases ceilings can be propped up as a temporary measure – although getting that done will be disruptive and will take some time – but others will have to close and replace whole rooms immediately.

Even worse, the list of schools affected will not be published, so parents have to wait to hear from their children’s schools directly about the impact, if any. Dealing with upset and angry parents just gives Heads a further headache. Some children will actually have to decamp to neighbouring schools, which will only add to the disruption.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

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