RAAC: All schools in Wales open to all pupils
The Welsh Government's investment in its education buildings has paid dividend, with no further cases of RAAC having been identified in Wales and all schools now open for all pupils, the Education Minister, Jeremy Miles, said today.
In comparison to other countries in the UK that have carried out detailed surveys of their school estate, Wales has a lot fewer instances of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in schools. Only five schools in Wales have identified as containing RAAC, compared to 231 in England and 39 in Scotland. The five schools in Wales have reopened to all pupils.
The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said:
“Over the past nine years, we have introduced an extensive programme for the refurbishment and building of new schools and colleges, upgrading and replacing those which are most in need of replacement for safety and quality reasons.
"The fact that so few cases of RAAC have been identified in our schools, only five in Wales in comparison to over 270 elsewhere in the UK, is testament to this Welsh Government's investment in our learning centres.”
The Welsh Government has increased the level of capital funding available through the Sustainable Communities for Learning programme to £850m for the period 2022/23 to 2024/25 representing an increase of 25% when compared to the 2021/22 baseline. To date more than £2.35 billion has been targeted towards new-build and major refurbishment projects.
Of the 1,463 state-maintained schools in Wales, more than 170 schools benefitted from this investment under the first wave of investment and 200 schools and colleges are benefiting from the current wave. This, together with the fact that the Welsh Government has invested £203m in capital maintenance over the last 4 years means that local authorities and further education institutions in Wales have been able to address key aspects of maintenance to their schools and colleges.
Jeremy Miles added:
"I thank the staff in our schools, councils, colleges and universities for acting swiftly over the past few months to carry out these assessments; and to ensure minimal impact on learners in the small number of buildings that contained RAAC."
Notes to editors
RAAC is a material used in construction in many buildings between the 1950’s and 1990’s.
UK Governments have been aware of some of the vulnerabilities of RAAC since the 1990s and the Welsh Government has been working with the UK Government and other Devolved Governments since 2018 in the management of RAAC. Until very recently the guidance for the management of RAAC in buildings has been considered by all governments as being a robust approach towards managing RAAC and in ensuring building occupants safety is prioritised at all times.
In Wales, local authorities were made aware of the potential issue with RAAC through the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) in February 2020 following a safety alert published in 2019 by the Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS). Local Authorities have a statutory duty to assess condition and safety risks including structural integrity for all buildings within their school estate and to maintain records.
On Anglesey, Ysgol David Hughes has safely reopened to all learners, and Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi was able to safely reopen for all face-to-face learning to all pupils on 10 January, ahead of schedule. Ysgol Maes Owen in Conwy County Council, Ysgol Trefnant in Denbighshire and Eveswell Primary in Newport have carried out remedial works and the schools have reopened to pupils.
Over 95% of all state funded schools have been assessed by local authorities on a prioritised basis with the remaining schools to be assessed in the coming weeks.