There has been a considerable media coverage recently regarding Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) and its use in educational settings. RAAC is a lightweight form of concrete; because it is weaker than regular concrete, concerns have been raised about its long-term durability.
These concerns have escalated during the summer resulting in a more precautionary approach by the DfE if RAAC is contained, rather than contained and critically weak. This has resulted in the DfE instructing about 100 schools to partially or fully close, preventatively.
During the last academic year, schools were asked to fill in a questionnaire regarding their estates. All BPET schools responded promptly to this call for information as to whether RAAC may be contained in school buildings; our schools are mostly housed in new buildings and therefore the majority of them are not at risk of presenting RAAC in their structure.
Following the surveys, the DfE commissioned structural engineers to visit settings where RAAC may be, in response to the surveys. Structural surveys have been carried out by the DfE on two of our schools, and we are now waiting for the results; however, initial findings seem to indicate that there is no RAAC in the schools surveyed.
Contingency plans are in place and will prioritise the continuation of education and ensure that, if RAAC is identified, any impact on pupils is kept to an absolute minimum. Rest assured that the safety of pupils and staff is of paramount importance to all concerned.
Parents and staff are being kept up to date in all BPET schools.
Update: On 25 January 2024, we received formal confirmation by the Department for Education that no RAAC is present in any of the BPET schools.