Hundreds of schools in UK threaten to close due to risk of collapse Yesterday, 20:08 in Abroad Before the weekend it became clear that 104 schools had to close immediately (partially) due to concrete rot.

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Corpus Christi Catholic School in London remains closed for the time being
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Hundreds more schools in the United Kingdom are at risk of being declared unsafe because of the risk of collapse. Before the weekend, 104 schools had to (partially) close their doors as a precaution due to concrete rot in the buildings. That problem seems to be getting bigger now.

The culprit is RAAC, a brittle concrete that was widely used between the 1950s and the 1980s in the construction of all kinds of government buildings, including hospitals and police stations. The material was used in roofing, floors and walls, among other things, and was a cheaper alternative to ‘ordinary concrete’ at the time.

But RAAC also has a major drawback: it only lasts about thirty years and is susceptible to rot. The UK’s Health and Safety Service has warned that many buildings have now run out of material and could suddenly collapse. This already happened in 2016 with part of a school building in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Today, British Education Minister Gillian Keegan warned that hundreds of other school buildings may be unsafe because of the concrete. That will become clear in the coming weeks: all schools that may have been built with RAAC will be extensively inspected within two weeks.

The concrete rot poses a problem for many schools, British media write. The schools are struggling with a sudden shortage of classrooms, which means that thousands of students cannot go there. Some schools are switching back to online teaching.

A school in Leicester is also affected by this:

Headmaster: ‘Very honest, I cried when the school had to close’

The concrete rot seems to be a headache for Prime Minister Sunak. It has been known for years that RAAC has a limited lifespan. But Sunak, in his previous position as finance minister, cut back heavily on the rehabilitation of public buildings. At least that is what a former senior official of the ministry says. According to Jonathan Slater, the British government was warned in 2018 that 300 to 400 schools had to be renovated on an annual basis, but the cabinet did not release enough budget for this.

Sunak, meanwhile, seems to be less pessimistic than his minister Keegan: the prime minister said earlier that he expects 95 percent of Britain’s 22,000 schools to have no problems with RAAC. In addition, Sunak stated, it cannot be ruled out that the problems will be limited to one or two classrooms in some schools. At the BBC, he also emphatically denied having been responsible for the cuts.

The opposition, meanwhile, has lashed out at Sunak’s government, partly because of the timing of the closure: today was the first day after the summer holidays. Labor also says the case shows that the Conservatives have unfairly cut back on the public sector in recent years.

  • Abroad

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