Temporary classrooms in place and plans for new buildings at King Ethelbert School due to ‘unsafe’ RAAC concrete on site

King Ethelbert School

Four temporary classrooms are in place at King Ethelbert School in Birchington, with more on the way, due to the presence of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in some areas of the school.

Concerns were sparked nationally this summer after the collapse of an RAAC beam at a school.

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.

King Ethelbert School wrote to parents on Friday informing them it has RAAC in some areas of the building. The DfE changed its guidance last week and advised all bodies responsible for the management of education premises to discontinue use of all spaces where RAAC has been identified with immediate effect.

The school has brought in temporary measures but is working with the Department for Education to secure new, permanent buildings.

‘Usual classes with usual teachers’

A school statement says: “King Ethelbert has worked proactively since the discovery of RAAC to make sure that the impact on students is kept to an absolute minimum.

“Already there are four temporary classrooms which include science laboratories so that practical lessons can continue. The school has also secured a second and third phase of temporary classrooms which will be delivered to the school site in the very near future.

“Although many schools nationally have had to shut or partially shut King Ethelbert is not in that position. The school will have all students being taught the same curriculum in their usual classes with their usual teachers.

“The school, along with Coastal Academies Trust, is already working closely with DfE to look at the more permanent solution which will include some new buildings.

“Headteacher Tom Sellen has written to parents , told them the situation and reassured them that students will be in school from today having their usual timetable in all year groups.”

The school recently achieved its highest recorded grades for GCSE passes.

Mr Sellen said: “The safety and welfare of our students has always been our priority and will continue to be so. We will also continue to deliver high quality education to all the students who attend our wonderful school.”

‘New classrooms’

Kate Greig, CEO of Coastal Academies Trust, added: “We are already working with the DfE to make sure the temporary accommodation is indeed temporary and our students are soon in new classrooms which they absolutely deserve to be.

“Sir Roger Gale, our local MP has been massively helpful and supportive to King Ethelbert and with his help we are confident that we will have new buildings in place shortly.”

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.

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

6 Comments

  1. The apparent shortcomings of R.A.A.C. have been known for 30 years. Why all the sudden fuss? Is this a global phenomenon or, just the U.K? Why now? What about public buildings that are not schools? What about commercial establishments like Kent Science Park?
    This is all very odd. Very Operation Fear.

  2. It is a good question.Central govt have known there was a problem for decades.if in 2018 Govt had ordered full structural surveys in 2018,they could have been accused as being a bit slow on the uptake but by leaving it till the beginning of September 2023, just before the new school year is I am afraid farcical bungling.
    No, Harry you might have got away with project fear over Brexit,though we know know it had substance,but not with this,as various school buildings have suffered major structural issues
    It’s been happening and Govt has been caught out big time.

  3. Whoever approved the use of such a poor quality short term apology for concrete should face the music. We have many buildings locally that are hundreds of years old that were built by tradesmen using traditional materials that will last for a few hundred years more. The very notion of a substance with a 30 year life for schools or any building seems crass. The people / authorities who sanctioned its use should be named and shamed 🤔

  4. Why don’t we build new classrooms instead of paying for people that have never contributed to the system to stay in luxury hotels all over the UK. The first duty of Government is to protect its own citizens and while our schools and hospitals are crumbling around US, the Tax payers, our money is spent prioritising putting mainly grown men that are cheating the system up in hotels at the expense of sacking staff from their hospitality jobs, cancelling students tennancy agreements moments before they are due to start university, turfing domestic abuse survivors out of temporary accommodation etc etc. This country is a disgrace, I will not be voting at the next GE unless I am offered a credible alternative. Apathy is rife in the UK at the moment and people are rightly angry.

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