School shuts with immediate effect amid higher risk from crumbling concrete

An investigation showed the school was at a 'higher level of risk' from the RAAC concrete than initally expected.

Forres Academy in Moray shuts with immediate effect amid higher risk from crumbling concrete Moray Council

A high school in Moray has been shut with immediate effect after an investigation found it was at a “higher level of risk” from collapse-prone concrete.

Forres Academy will be closed to all pupils on Thursday and Friday, the head teacher said in an email to parents, after work on RAAC was found inside.

This will allow the school to take “swift action” to resolve the issue, Jan Sinclair told parents and carers on Wednesday.

A report over the summer found RAAC was in a “small number of classrooms” in the science and art sections of the school.

Work to remove the material was announced with the school saying on Monday that it would take around four weeks to complete.

However, engineers working to remove the concrete found the school is at a “higher level of risk” than first expected.

RAAC is a light and bubbly form of precast concrete, frequently used in public sector buildings in the UK from the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s.Getty

“We have received new information today from the structural engineers, Fairhurst, whilst undertaking the current remedial work regarding RAAC at the school which now appears to indicate a higher level of risk,” Ms Sinclair said.

“Due to this new information and in order to take swift action where this is deemed necessary, the school will be closed to pupils on Thursday and Friday to allow time to review our plans working alongside colleagues in the Council.

“Where possible, remote learning will be provided with further detail on this remote learning tomorrow and we will keep you updated regarding plans for next week.”

A Moray Council spokesperson said: “Due to receiving new information on the RAAC at Forres Academy from our Structural Engineer contractor, the status of the level of risk has been updated.

“There is no indication of deterioration to the RAAC panels within the school and the change of level has been dictated by a change of advice and guidance received from the contractors.

“Pupils will move to remote learning on Thursday and Friday this week to allow staff to prepare to implement contingency plans.

“A full update will be provided on Friday to inform parents and pupils of those plans.”

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) is a lightweight form of concrete used from the 1950s up to the mid-1990s.

It is less durable than traditional concrete, meaning it is more likely to be at risk of collapse.

Investigations are continuing into which of Scotland’s public buildings contain the material, including schools, fire stations, police stations and council buildings.

Humza Yousaf has vowed to “spend what we need to spend” to ensure affected buildings are made safe.

The First Minister said last week that the number of schools known to contain RAAC had increased to 40 across a total of 16 local authority areas.

They include the Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Highland councils. The full list can be found here.

RAAC has been found across public buildings in Britain.

At the start of September, the UK Government ordered more than 100 buildings to close due to fears over the potentially dangerous concrete.

Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “Parents, teachers and pupils will understandably be deeply concerned by this news.

“The fact that it has now been discovered that Forres Academy is at higher-risk from this dangerous concrete than before means their safety absolutely has to be the top priority.

“People in Forres have known for a long time that the current Academy has been not been fit for purpose, but funding has simply not been forthcoming from the SNP Government.

“SNP ministers must work closely with Moray Council and the schools themselves to fully identify the scale of these problems so this dangerous material can be removed from Forres Academy as quickly as possible.”

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