MP blasts the government for the schools concrete crisis - The Leamington Observer

MP blasts the government for the schools concrete crisis

Leamington Editorial 11th Sep, 2023   0

MP MATT Western has blasted the government for their inactivity over the school concrete crisis after visiting Myton School in Warwick.

Both Myton School and Aylesford School, also in Warwick, were among the many schools across the country forced to delay the start of term amid safety concerns about the concrete used in their buildings.

The government announced just days before the start of the new term that more then 100 schools would have to shut areas which had used reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

The Department for Education said the material widely used from the 1950s through to the 1990s was now “life expired” and could collapse with “little or no notice”. There have been several sudden collapses of RAAC roof panels that appeared to be in good condition recently, escalating safety concerns that have been rumbling on for years.

Many of the 1,600 pupils at Myton School were told they could not return until Monday September 11 after the headteacher, Andy Perry, wrote to parents to say the school was among those affected.

Meanwhile, headteacher of Aylesford School, Tim Hodgeson, wrote to inform parents that some building issues had been found over the summer and the school, which has about 1,200 pupils, would only open for Year 7 and Year 12 during the first week back.

Mr Western, MP for Warwick and Leamington, said he believed the approximately 150 school across England named as affected by RAAC were only “the tip of the iceberg” and that many hundreds, if not thousands, more schools would be affected.

He said that while the presence of RAAC was confirmed at Myton School on Friday September 1 following a visual survey by an official contracted to the Department for Education, the DfE had been aware of this problem since November 2022, when the school completed its DfE RAAC questionnaire, and again in April 2023 when the school undertook its own independent survey.

He continued that following the survey on September 1 the DfE failed to provide any clarity on what measures they were taking to make sure the school was safe.

Mr Western has since visited Myton School to see the scale of the problem first hand.

He said he was particularly alarmed to hear of the significant decline of the school’s capital budget since 2010 and, to make matters worse, Myton was unsuccessful in bidding for funding from the School Rebuilding Programme in the last year, despite the need to replace buildings and mitigate the risks of RAAC.

After speaking to the DfE himself, Mr Western said Myton School had been assured it would be prioritised.

Mr Western added: “Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives have done nothing to address a problem that they have known about for years.

“The first act of the Conservative government in 2010 was to axe Labour’s £56billion schools rebuilding programme. Even in 2020, when it was estimated that 300 to 400 schools a year would need significant works or re-builds, the government agreed to just one hundred. That figure was then reduced to 50 by the then chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

“More broadly, parents deserve to know where these schools are, what ministers knew about this dangerous concrete and what they plan to do to minimise yet more disruption to children’s education.”


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