Plans to renew 13 schools hit by RAAC crisis were shelved in 2010
At least 13 schools affected by the failing concrete crisis were included in the school rebuilding programme scrapped by Michael Gove in 2010.
School buildings told to close because they were found to contain reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete had been due for rebuild under Labour’s £55bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, according to the BBC.
More than 700 rebuilding or refurbishment projects were shelved by the Conservative-led coalition government as part of efforts to bring down net borrowing, which had peaked in 2010 at £152bn.
Gove, who was education secretary at the time, had described BSF as plagued by “massive overspends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy”.
But Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told BBC that while BSF was expensive and over ambitious “it was saying something important that the nation’s schools needed to be refurbished”.
“What we’ve got today in some of those schools is head teachers scrambling around trying to identify concrete that might look like Aero bars when they should be focusing children’s learning and development.”
He called the crisis over RAAC a “national scandal”, adding that the 13 schools would not be facing disruption if the coalition government had not cancelled the BSF programme.
“Instead we have an £11.4 billion backlog of repairs and remedial work required and the chickens have come home to roost over this neglect of school buildings,” he said.
The schools include six in Essex, two in London, two in the West Midlands and three in the north of England.
The Department for Education (DfE) said it was on track to rebuild its target of 500 schools over the next decade as part of the Schools Rebuilding Programme.
“That is on top of 520 schools already delivered since 2015 under the Priority Schools Building Programme,” the department said, adding that programme was in its early stages so more construction projects would start in the next year.
The government has also now published the full list of schools which have been told to fully or partially close due to the presence of RAAC, around half of which are located in Essex.