A union boss has slammed the government as more than 100 schools with deadly building defects have been ordered to close.
Daniel Kebede, general secretary of the National Eduction Union, told BBC Breakfast there had been “calculated neglect” of education facilities after ministers ordered 104 schools to close buildings constructed with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).
Widely used in the 1960s and 1970 with a lifespan of 30 years and a texture described as “bubbly”, the material was flagged as a safety risk in 2018 following the collapse of a school roof in Kent.
A report published in June revealed a 400 other schools could be impacted by the material’s long-term use, putting an estimated 700,000 pupils at risk of being crushed.
Now, in fresh guidance issued just days before the new the school year, the Department of Education said recent cases involving RAAC had led to a “loss of confidence in buildings” containing the material and advised education facilities to “vacate settings” unless “mitigations” were in place.
Responding to the findings Kebebe, said: “This isn’t new evidence at all. These schools were largely built to rebuild post-war Britain in the 50s, 60s and 70s using a cheap material that everyone knew had a 30-year shelf-life.
“This crisis hasn’t just sprung on government by surprise – there was evidence of roofs collapsing in 1991. What’s been going on is calculated neglect and a lack of political will to invest in children’s education.”
The government has refused to reveal the 104 education facilities that were ordered to shut building with critics claiming the issues with RAAC could be more widespread.
Education secretary Gillian Keegan told broadcasters: “Most parents should not be worried about this at all.”
More schools at risk
In an interview with GB News the schools minister admitted that further educational facilities could be forced to shut classrooms fitted with the material.
Nick Gibb conceded that more schools could be told to make closures as evidence-gathering continues over the presence of RAAC.
He said: “There may be more after that as these questionnaires continue to be surveyed and we continue to do more surveying work.
“That’s a very cautious approach, so parents can be confident that if they’ve not been contacted by their school it is safe to send children back into school.”
Gibb insisted “we took the decision as soon as the evidence emerged” as anger builds over the delay in informing parents of closures.
According to the National Audit Office, the government does not have sufficient information to manage “critical” risks to the safety of pupils and staff posed by the deterioration of school buildings.
A report published by the watchdog revealed around 24,000 school buildings are currently beyond their estimated lifespan.