Government Condemned as Plymouth Avoids School Concrete Scandal

Plymouth Labour has condemned the closure of school classrooms across the country as “staggering incompetence“ as the council confirmed that none of the schools for which it is responsible in the city have been affected by the issue of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC).

Cllr Sally Cresswell, portfolio holder for Education, Skills and Apprenticeships, said all 14 of the local authority-maintained schools have been checked regularly since 2018 and none contain RAAC.

“Academies and multi-academy trusts are responsible for their own school buildings and school leaders will have been contacted by the Department for Education about this issue earlier in the year,” said Cllr Cresswell.

“We have not been notified that any schools in Plymouth are affected by RAAC, but we have contacted chief executives of academies and headteachers to confirm that relevant checks have taken place and offer support if needed.

“That schools elsewhere should even be in this position is such a contrast with the last Labour government which had a comprehensive building programme and investment in schools. Plymouth and our children gained through this and would have gained even more if the £70m promised in 2010 by Ed Balls hadn’t been withdrawn by Michael Gove.

“The start of the Autumn Term is so important for children, every day in school counts.  So it is staggering incompetence that the Conservative government has failed to respond to the risks posed by some school buildings until we are days away from the new school year.

“The issue of RAAC has been raised over and over again by Labour’s Bridget Phillipson the Shadow Secretary of State, but the Government has sat on its hands and taken no action.  At the very least remedial work and temporary classrooms should have been put in place six weeks ago during the summer holidays so as to ensure minimal school disruption.

“I really do feel for children, parents and staff elsewhere in the country faced with this entirely avoidable disruption but I’m relieved that we are not facing this issue here in Plymouth ourselves.”