Unions demand the truth about RAAC

NEU members marching during strike action in March demanding the government 'Pay Up and Save our Schools'

SIX unions have asked urgent questions of Gillian Keegan, the Secretary of State for Education, about RAAC affected schools.

The general secretaries of six unions representing school workers, including heads, teachers and support staff – GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, Unison and Unite – have written a joint letter calling for an update on the extent of her Department’s research into RAAC affected schools. They ask six urgent questions:
‘How many schools at risk of RAAC have not had an investigation?
‘How many schools suspect they could have RAAC?
‘How many schools with suspected RAAC have yet to be surveyed?
‘How long does the government expect it to take for all at-risk schools to be investigated?
‘How long does the government think it will take for all schools with suspected RAAC to be surveyed?
‘What deadline has been set to clear RAAC from every school?’
They wrote: ‘Last week you published a small amount of information on the progress with the crisis in schools caused by reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC). Your department told us:

  • more than 90 per cent of schools are covered by responsible bodies that have completed the RAAC questionnaire;
  • in 156 schools it was confirmed that RAAC was present; and
  • 52 of 156 schools have mitigations in place to protect pupils and staff from RAAC.

‘However, this does not appear to reflect the full extent of the problem.
‘In May, the Department for Education (DfE) told the National Audit Office (NAO):

  • 86 per cent of schools are covered by responsible bodies that have completed the RAAC questionnaire;
  • 14,900 schools are at risk of containing RAAC;
  • 6,300 of 14,900 schools had been walked round to identify possible RAAC;
  • 572 of 6,300 schools suspected they had RAAC
  • 196 of 572 schools had been surveyed to determine if they had RAAC;
  • 65 of 196 schools had confirmed RAAC was present; and
  • 24 of 65 schools required mitigations to protect pupils and staff from RAAC.

‘We believe it is incumbent on the DfE to update the figures it has published in order to eliminate misunderstanding of the scale of the problem.
‘Using the data the DfE provided to the NAO, we estimate that hundreds more schools could have RAAC and we presume this is why you told the Today programme there could be “hundreds” more schools with RAAC.
‘If the government does not increase funding for the school rebuilding programme which is currently refurbishing 50 schools a year, then the RAAC problem will not be resolved until the 2030s.
‘We would be grateful if you could reply within the next week.
‘Yours sincerely,
‘Daniel Kebede,
‘General Secretary, National Education Union.’