As children went back to school, the full extent of the Government’s incompetence on RAAC has come to light, and I know people are understandably anxious about this situation.
It is unacceptable that parents have been in the dark about the dangers posed to their children at school and what buildings contain reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).
As information finally comes out about what schools are affected, we know there are three schools in Enfield impacted. However, none have had to close and all schools in the borough were able to open for the return of the academic year as normal.
In our constituency, I understand that Winchmore School has identified RAAC in a small part of the school, and this area has been sealed off with no danger to staff and pupils. I will continue to update constituents as the situation develops, including with more information about other public buildings that may be affected.
In other parts of England, the identification of RAAC has caused massive disruption and anxiety for pupils, teachers and parents, with some schools forced to close.
Rishi Sunak’s responsibility in this crisis
Back when he was Chancellor, Rishi Sunak was warned about the state of school buildings and the need to properly fund a school rebuilding programme.
He was reportedly presented evidence by Department for Education officials that there was a ‘critical risk to life’ and that these problems needed urgent action; it was recommended that funding was needed to rebuild 300 to 400 schools a year in England. Rishi Sunak ignored this advice, providing initial funding for 100 schools, which was then halved again to only 50 schools.
We are seeing the impact of these decisions today, with crumbling classrooms symptomatic of the years of neglect and failure we’ve faced under consecutive Conservative governments.
School buildings are unsafe, the first week of term has been ruined for pupils and teachers, and parents are grappling with their children learning from home once more. All the while, the Education Secretary wants parents to thank her for her hard work.
The Government needs to stop failing the next generation and get a grip on this crisis.