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Tuesday, October 3, 2023
HomeEducation'Outstanding' school in Ealing found to have RAAC

‘Outstanding’ school in Ealing found to have RAAC

An ‘outstanding’ school in Ealing has been found to have the building material that’s causing major safety concerns meaning parts of the site need to be closed off.

The Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls is currently the only school in the borough that has found reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) present, according to the council.

The foundation school, which teaches girls from 11-18, has warned students and parents of the presence of RAAC but said it will remain open as the new academic year gets under way. Located in Acton, The Ellen Wilkinson School has more than 1,400 students with the council stating that “everyone’s primary concern is the safety of pupils and staff”.

Local authorities have confirmed that the areas of the school affected by RAAC will be closed off “while safety measures are put in place and works arranged”. Students have been told to bring in packed lunches as the canteen is currently out of use, while children on free school meals will be given vouchers.

The school’s science block, the old gym and the hall have also been vacated. The presence of RAAC was deemed to be dangerous after a National Audit Office report found the risk of injury or death from a school building collapse as “very likely and critical”.

The material has been found to crumble easily, prompting the Department of Education (DfE) to advise schools that “any space or area with confirmed RAAC should no longer be open without mitigations in place”. More than 150 schools are reported to have RAAC leading to many having to fully or partially close.

Ealing Council’s full statement reads: “We can confirm that no reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) has been found at any Ealing-owned school sites.

“However, it has been found at a foundation school in the borough – Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls in Acton – where it is present in some of the school’s buildings. The school will not need to close. Everyone’s primary concern is the safety of pupils and staff, and the affected areas have been taken out of use while safety measures are put in place and works arranged.”

Prime minister Rishi Sunak says the government acted as “swiftly as possible” when RAAC concrete issues were found in England’s schools but admitted the “timing is frustrating”.

He has faced criticism for the problems facing schools, with former DfE civil servant Jonathan Slater accusing the government of delivering a fraction of the funding required to address RAAC in schools in 2021.

However, in a recent address, the PM said it was “completely and utterly wrong” to blame him for the issues plaguing schools, defending his time as Chancellor.