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MP Robert Jenrick says all schools with structural issues caused by Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete, including Newark’s Holy Trinity Catholic Academy and Carnarvon Primary School, Bingham, will be supported

Two local schools have been identified as having crumbling concrete in their construction, the Advertiser has learnt.

Just a week before the return of pupils from the summer holidays, government ministers ordered schools that had any construction with Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete to close the areas affected, leading to fears that many children could start the new school year with remote learning.

The Advertiser understands two schools in the Advertiser area have Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete used to some degree in their construction.

Holy Trinity Catholic Academy Newark.
Holy Trinity Catholic Academy Newark.

They are Holy Trinity Catholic Academy, on Boundary Road, Newark, and Carnarvon Primary School, Bingham.

In respect of Holy Trinity, it is understood affected areas have already been closed and functions switched to other areas of the site without hindrance to operations.

A county council spokesman said: “Like other councils, we are aware of this issue, and have been working closely with schools and the Department of Education.

“The safety of our school buildings is vital and we have carried out a range of survey work in line with government guidance.

“We’d like to assure parents, guardians and children in Nottinghamshire that currently we are not aware of any issues across our maintained schools estate which will require the closure or partial closure of a school for the start of school term.

“We are aware that Carnarvon Primary School in Bingham, which is maintained by the council, still requires some further routine checks.

“Initial survey work there has not identified any immediate issues. This further work will be undertaken as a priority, and the school is contacting parents directly to update them.

“We are also aware that Holy Trinity Catholic Academy in Newark, which is managed by Our Lady of Lourdes Multi Academy Trust, has identified issues on its site.

“We are informed that the trust is currently putting in place arrangements to ensure that it opens as planned for the new term next week.

“We are continuing to engage with the Department for Education and will keep monitoring the position closely in the new term. We will also continue to support all schools, whether maintained or academy with any further issues which may arise.”

Newark and Bingham MP Robert Jenrick said: “"Parents will undoubtedly be concerned that a small number of local schools in Nottinghamshire have been identified as having structural issues linked to reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

"I have spoken to the Schools Minister who assured me that the schools in question will be provided with the support they need, should any buildings on their estate need to be decanted. It’s important the works required are done as swiftly as is practicable and the financial support required is provided, and that education is not disrupted.

"I know the schools concerned will be judging what steps are necessary, guided by the Department for Education and the caseworkers I am told they have been provided. And I know the schools will work hard to support pupils. I have contacted the headteachers and governors to offer them my help and have written to the Secretary of State for Education seeking information as to the support available for them.

"We need to ensure these schools are safe for pupils and teachers and it’s right a precautionary approach is taken. And we need to resolve these issues without harming the face to face learning that pupils deserve and which has already been disrupted too much in recent years with the pandemic school closures which were so detrimental to our children’s education.

"The schools impacted will no doubt communicate directly with parents and it’s right that I leave it to them to do so as they are best placed to provide accurate information on their site and plans."

The recent sudden fresh guidance to schools stated: “We have been proactively monitoring all confirmed cases of RAAC closely.

“Recent cases have led to a loss of confidence in buildings containing the material, leading us to advise education settings (schools, colleges and maintained nursery schools) to vacate all spaces or buildings that are known to contain RAAC, unless they already have mitigations in place to make the building safe.”

More than a hundred schools nationally have been identified in this sudden announcement, and up to 20 schools may have to close altogether.

Hundreds of schools across the country were built with the material between the 1960s and 1990s, and it has been discovered RAAC has a 30-year shelf life.

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