At least 13 schools confirmed to have reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) had funding to rebuild approved under a Labour scheme which was later scrapped by the Tory-LibDem Coalition in 2010.
Building Schools for the Future (BSF) – was a £55bn project to renew every secondary school in England, rebuilding half of them and refurbishing the rest.
However, BSF was ditched by the then Coalition Education Secretary Michael Gove, who attacked it for ‘massive overspends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy’.
According to analysis by BBC Verify, more than 700 projects were scrapped.
Gove’s department published a list of schools affected in 2010, stating which ones had work ‘stopped’ but not detailing the work.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: ‘This is a national scandal.
‘This analysis shows that these 13 schools would not now be facing the huge disruption caused by the RAAC crisis if the government had not pulled the plug on the building schools for the future programme.
‘Instead we have an £11.4 billion backlog of repairs and remedial work required and the chickens have come home to roost over this neglect of school buildings.
‘BSF was saying something important – that the nation’s schools needed to be refurbished.
‘What we’ve got today in some of those schools is head teachers scrambling around trying to identify concrete that might look like Aero bars when they should be focusing on children’s learning and development.’
Thirteen schools, which had their building work cancelled in 2010, are on the list of schools with potentially dangerous RAAC concrete.
They are: Aston Manor Academy, Birmingham; Ferryhill School, County Durham; Carmel College, Darlington; The Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls, Ealing, London; The Billericay School, Essex; The Bromfords School, Essex; The Appleton School, Essex; The Gilberd School, Essex; The Thomas Lord Audley School, Essex; Thurstable School Sports College and Sixth Form Centre, Essex; Wood Green Academy, Sandwell, West Midlands; London Oratory School, Hammersmith and Fulham, London; Holy Family Catholic School, Bradford.
Daniel Kebede, general secretary for the National Education Union, said: ‘There wouldn’t be RAAC in a single secondary school if BSF had been allowed to continue. It has, in my opinion, been calculated neglect.’
- NHS England has written to all hospital chiefs telling them to speed up investigations into safety risks and draw up evacuation plans in case any buildings need to close.
It comes after the government ordered 100 schools to close immediately following fears over RAAC, described as ‘80 per cent air’ and ‘like an Aero Bar’.
At least 34 NHS buildings have RAAC and seven buildings in which the material is used throughout but none have so far been ordered to close.