Three Haringey schools among those affected by concrete safety scandal

Haringey Council says none of the borough’s schools will need to close as they have already taken measures to mitigate the problems, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Aerated concrete (credit Tarmo Tamm, Markus Otsus, Artur Kaljo via Wikimedia Commons)
Aerated concrete (credit Tarmo Tamm, Markus Otsus, Artur Kaljo via Wikimedia Commons)

Three schools in Haringey are among those known to contain a type of concrete prone to collapse that has sparked a nationwide safety alert this week.

Welbourne Primary School in Tottenham Hale, Hornsey School for Girls in Crouch End, and Park View School in West Green, were already known to be affected by the issue and have taken action to remedy parts of their buildings. None will need to close.

In total, 156 schools across England are said to have buildings containing the type of concrete found to be unsafe. While some of these were already aware of the problem, others have been forced to suddenly close off parts of the school or close entirely, until safety works take place.

However, Haringey Council says none of the borough’s schools will close as a result of the government’s announcement.

Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) was used in the construction of schools and other public buildings for several decades up until the mid-1990s. The material, a more lightweight form of concrete with a limited lifespan of around 30 years, was mainly used in roofs but is sometimes found in walls and floors.

Zena Brabazon, Haringey’s cabinet member for children, schools and families, said the council had been “very proactive and actively involved in tackling the issue head-on for some months” and had “carried out borough-wide surveys to identify any concerns back in February”.

She added: “We are ahead of the curve in relation to this matter and have already put funding in place for the works to be carried out. We also have temporary and revised accommodation ready for the start of the new term.

“I’m pleased to report that none of our affected schools will be closing as a result of the government’s announcement yesterday and they can rely on our continued support as we look to rectify this issue swiftly and successfully in the future.”

Marsha Isilar-Gosling, the Liberal Democrat opposition spokesperson for schools, said: “It is right that these buildings are closed whilst urgent safety works are carried out, but for this to emerge just days before the start of term is unacceptable.

“Parents and children should have the peace of mind of knowing that schools are a safe place, and the government needs to act quickly and transparently to fix these issues.”

Since 2021, the Department for Education (DfE) has assessed the possibility of building collapse or failure causing death or injury as a “critical and very likely risk”. In June, the National Audit Office said DfE had not been able to reduce the risk.

Yesterday, the government ordered 104 schools to close buildings and introduce safety measures, such as propping up ceilings, where RAAC is present “without mitigations in place”. The other 52 had already put safety measures in place.

It said new RAAC cases had “reduced the Department for Education’s confidence that school and college buildings with confirmed RAAC should remain open without mitigations in place”.

Although most schools will be able to remain open for face-to-face learning because only a small part of the site is affected, others will need to either fully or partially relocate to allow safety measures to be put in place.

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