No school closures in Kent over ‘unstable concrete’ concerns but temporary class area needed at King Ethelbert School

King Ethelbert School

Kent County Council says no schools in the county will need to shut following concerns over the use of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in some buildings which were sparked after the collapse of an RAAC beam at a school this Summer.

Nationally around 24 schools will need to close and 150 schools in England needed to urgently address the presence of unstable concrete.

RAAC is a lightweight form of concrete used in roof, floor, cladding and wall construction in the UK from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s but there have been recent roof collapses resulting in action by the Department for Education issuing advice about school closures.

In Thanet Birchington Primary School had a temporary closure before the summer holidays for structural works to be carried out to allow the school reception, office and administration areas to be occupied. A number of interim classrooms were set up, with electrical and IT works completed.

King Ethelbert School in Birchington is also now affected and it is understood the science block will be shut. The school has some temporary accommodation and is using other school areas while additional temporary accommodation is put in place.

The other affected Kent schools are:

Palmarsh Primary

St James Church if England Primary, Tunbridge Wells

Sunnybank Primary, Sittingbourne

Godinton Primary, Ashford

St Bartholomew’s Catholic Primary School, Swanley

‘Alternative arrangements’

Rory Love, the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills at Kent County Council, said: “There is understandably some increased anxiety over the use of this material following recent press reports.

“There are no Kent schools of which we have been made aware by the Department for Education (DfE) that appear on the DfE’s latest list of schools needing to be closed to children owing to the presence of RAAC.

“Where RAAC is present and work is underway alternative arrangements have been made within the schools, and the schools remain open to children.

“Over the course of the summer the DfE indicated that further information had come to light regarding the performance of the RAAC material which meant it had taken the difficult decision to go further than the previous guidance that was issued by the Institution of Structural Engineers earlier this year.

“As a result, the DfE notified any responsible body where RAAC has been confirmed as being present to close the affected areas with immediate effect until mitigation works have been undertaken.

“Kent does have seven schools where RAAC has been positively confirmed to date. In six schools, the affected areas were taken out of use before the summer in accordance with the direction of the DfE. I am pleased to confirm that works have progressed well on these schools over the summer period.

“It is understood that the seventh school was already working with the DfE and has put arrangements in place that will enable the school to operate using temporary accommodation and alternative parts of the school.

“Therefore, all schools that were identified as containing RAAC will be opening for face-to-face teaching at the start of the new academic year; a key priority for this council.”


Mr Love added: “I can confirm that all school sites for which KCC is responsible and which had a high and medium risk of containing RAAC have now been inspected. Inspections continue at the lower risk sites. No further RAAC has been identified to date.

“The primary communication channel for information for parents about any alternative arrangements if further cases of RAAC are identified will be directly between the school and the parents.

“With regard to the schools for which KCC is not the responsible body, such as academies and voluntary-aided schools, KCC has written to all responsible bodies to remind them of the importance to undertake their own due diligence and complete the DfE RAAC questionnaire.

“As part of this, we have also offered to support to the wider family of Kent schools if needed.

“Overall, the safety of our schools and those using them continues to be our top priority. I remain committed to take swift action where needed, just as we did in June, when a number of schools across the County were required to close at short notice and were able to reopen with temporary arrangements in four days to enable pupils to be back in class.”


  1. That’s what cheap buys you, poorly deployed budgets and 13 years of Tory cuts, Hitler couldn’t defeat Britain but our own fascist take care of there own kind tories have killed the country.

    • So the “tories” have invented time travel? Gone back to the mid fifties and used a now known to be less than suitable material for around 40 years , before transporting themselves back to 2010 to begin their evil reign? Interesting viewpoint but likely not quite correct.
      But hey why let a bit of distant reality get in the way of some opportunisitc political point scoring.

  2. What a pathetic comment to make about Government being responsible for this, at one point everyone thought that asbestos was safe to use, it was even put in gas masks. Times change, technology changes, that’s part of life, no evil conspiracy as mentioned by one moron in the comments.

  3. I am a former member of the Chartered Institute of Building, and have no recollection of installing this type of roof/flooring material, but it was widely specified by architects in high rise tower blocks, and many civic buildings post war I understand, not just schools!

    Light weight concrete is perfectly adequate for its design use, and before there is mass panic, remember there are some 24,000 schools, and this problem has only been found in a few hundred. Flat roofs are notoriously difficult to waterproof, and this sounds as if water ingress may have caused the problem, rusting the steel reinforcing.

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