RAAC in schools

Community Union welcomes the more decisive action and the instruction from the Department for Education (DfE) for staff in education settings to vacate all spaces or buildings that are known to contain RAAC.

We have continually raised our concerns at DfE meetings on this issue throughout 2023.

We understand that this decision may cause disruption and difficulties for some schools at the start of term, but health and safety can’t be left to chance and the DfE needs to ensure that schools are a safe environment for pupils to be learning in and staff to be working in.

The DfE have been monitoring the situation since 2018 and an increase in the pace of this work is welcomed, however it is challenging. One of the main challenges is that it is not that easy to detect RAAC; it is typically in planks forming part of roofs and could be hidden behind suspended ceilings. So normal surveys and condition data do not necessarily confirm if RAAC is present.

There is also the challenge of the timings of these announcements so close to the start of term time, leaving school leaders, teachers, and wider staff in a difficult position.

More needs to be done to ensue these safety issues are identified quicker and in a way that minimises disruption to young people’s education.

Helen Osgood and Paul McKenna of Community Union said:

“The Health and Safety of our young people and our Community members that work in schools cannot be left to chance.

“Community has been working hard with the DfE throughout 2023 to ensure that schools where RAAC may be present are identified. We continue to recruit and train Community Health and Safety Reps, so they can ensure that any health and safety issues that are identified, are dealt with swiftly, and risk assessments carried out and measures swiftly put in place.

“We are pleased to see a change to the way that RAAC is being dealt with in schools by the DfE. It is long overdue as RAAC is an issue that needs to be dealt with swiftly. We need to ensure that all of the properties that contain RAAC are identified and the risks that it presents within our education settings are eliminated.

“Health and Safety within education settings is a key priority for Community.”

You can find the UK Government’s guidance on how to spot and report RAAC here.

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