Dangerous crumbling concrete confirmed in dozens of Scottish schools

Councils across the country are reporting how many schools are affected by the presence of collapse-risk concrete.

Dangerous crumbling concrete confirmed in dozens of Scottish schools Getty ImagesGov.uk

Dangerous crumbling concrete has been confirmed in dozens of Scottish schools.

Councils across the country are reporting to the Scottish Government how many schools are affected by the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in their area.

It comes after the UK Government ordered more than 100 buildings to close due to the dangerous material.

The Scottish Government said work is ongoing to determine where there is RAAC, with local councils expected to prioritise remedial work.

It said appropriate mitigation plans have and will be put in place to “ensure the safety of pupils and staff” should RAAC be found in walls, roofs and floors – meaning schools across the country could close.

The material is a lightweight concrete used from the 1950s up to the mid-1990s which is being assessed after it was linked to the collapse of the roof at Singlewell Primary School in Kent in 2018.

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What schools are affected?

Aberdeenshire Council says RAAC concrete has been identified at two schools – Mackie and Westhill Academies.

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson said: “The council has practically completed onsite investigations across the school estate, with a number revisited over the recent summer holiday period which have not identified further installations.

“However, this work will continue with a number of schools in October where intrusive or high level surveys are required to establish construction and ascertain the presence of RAAC , or otherwise.  This is a precautionary measure where visual inspection to-date has been inconclusive coupled with construction drawings being silent on this issue.

Aberdeen City Council says the concrete has been identified at seven schools – Abbotswell Primary, Cornhill Primary, Hazlehead Academy, Northfield Academy, Quarryhill Primary School, St Machar Academy and Westpark School – and it also been found at the closed Hazlehead swimming pool and a town house extension.

An Aberdeen City Council spokesperson said: “ACC is fully aware of issues regarding RAAC. Our top priority is the safety of young people and staff in our schools and members of the public and the staff in other buildings containing RAAC.

“A series of buildings inspections and surveys have been undertaken since the initial advice. ACC has identified a number of properties that have RAAC within their construction.

“All these properties have been assessed to ensure they remain safe for building users and are subject to ongoing regular checks recommended by our technical consultants.

“We are aware of developments over the last 24 hours with regards to education premises in England and will continue to take account of any change to government guidance or other technical guidance.”

Glasgow City Council says the material has not been identified at any buildings in the Glasgow estate, but the local authority is monitoring developments.

Parents of children at schools in the Edinburgh City Council area have started to receive letters saying that RAAC has been identified in seven schools and that mitigation measures have been put in place.

The affected schools in the capital are Cramond Primary, Trinity Primary, Pentland Primary, Colinton Primary, Currie High School, Covert Primary and St Andrew’s Fox Covert RC Primary (one site but two schools).

Councillor Joan Griffiths, education, children and families convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “Since the beginning of the year we’ve been carrying out ongoing and detailed assessment of our property estate looking to identify any buildings that may contain Reinforced Aerated Autoclave Concrete (RAAC).

“The safety of all our young people and staff in our schools is paramount and the measures we have taken reinforce this position.”

Two schools are affected in Dundee but the local authority refused to identify them, saying they have been aware of the presence of the concrete for three years and are monitoring the situation.

West Lothian Council said RAAC has been found at five primary schools and four community centres, while East Lothian Council said the concrete was present at Preston Lodge High, where it has been used in the construction of some parts of the building.

Parents and carers of pupils at Forres Academy in the Moray council area have been informed of the presence of RAAC.

The letter, sent last month, said: “We have one school which has RAAC components and this is Forres Academy.” It also said some classrooms had been closed.

Two schools in Highland have been identified and one in the Perth and Kinross area is being repaired.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that work is under way to replace RAAC panels in the roof of Perth Grammar School. The school opened to staff and pupils with a full range of health and safety controls in place.

Three schools in Dumfries and Galloway have so far been identified with RAAC panels and further investigations are being carried out on two others.

Inverclyde has one school with RAAC. A spokesman said surveys were carried out over the summer and the school was deemed safe to open.

More than 100 schools to close in England

More than 100 schools, nurseries and colleges in England have been told by the UK Government to close classrooms and other buildings that contain the aerated concrete which is prone to collapse.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats in May revealed the substance was present in at least 37 schools in Scotland.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “This is an issue the Scottish Government takes very seriously and so we have been working with partner bodies to understand the scope and nature of what we are dealing with. 

“Reviews of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in property are being conducted by local authorities, NHS Scotland and other public sector organisations.

“Work is currently underway with local authorities to fully understand the presence of RAAC across the school estate. 

“We have received returns for the majority of the school estate and expect to have full returns from all local authorities this week.   

Guidance from the Institution of Structural Engineers instructs the material to be replaced only if it is deemed to be in a poor condition and is considered a high risk, otherwise it can be managed in place.

The Scottish Government said local authorities are currently undertaking reviews of the presence of RAAC in public buildings in Scotland, including schools and hospitals.

It said that where it is found, remedial work could include the closure of impacted rooms or sections of the building and the use of temporary, modular provision for pupils to ensure the continuity of education.

Ministers have also stressed pupils will not be taught in the parts of buildings where the concrete is considered a risk.

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