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RAAC: MPs to vote on releasing list of closed schools

Labour will attempt to force the government to publish the list of schools that have closed because of dangerous “crumbly” concrete through a vote in parliament next week.

The Department for Education has ordered 104 schools with RAAC to shut just days before the start of the new term, but ministers have so far refused to name those affected.

It is understood officials learned over the summer of cases where buildings with RAAC– reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete – collapsed despite not showing any signs of deterioration.

Labour, which yesterday called for ministers to launch an emergency nationwide audit to also include the wider public sector estate, intends to use a binding Humble Address motion in the House of Commons on Wednesday to force the publication of official documents about the government’s handling of the crisis.

MPs are expected to vote on the release of a list of the schools affected by closure, and the disclosures of evidence that led to the decision to shut the sites. 

Schools minister Nick Gibb said yesterday that his department would only the publish the list “when all the remediation measures are put in place and the schools are in a stable place, then we will publish a list”.

“We want the parents to hear from the school not to read about it in the media first,” he added.

The Liberal Democrats have meanwhile urged prime minister Rishi Sunak to call an immediate COBRA meeting to deal with the RAAC crisis, which is also hitting hospitals and homes. The party said the situation must be treated as a “national emergency”.

The DfE this week ramped up its policy on RAAC to mandate all school buildings with it must now close. This action was previously only taken in the worst cases.

The department sent responsible bodies – councils or academy trusts – a questionnaire to understand whether they had carried out work to identify RAAC in their schools in March.

It had focused its attentions on 14,900 schools with buildings constructed between 1930 and 1990. But around 5 per cent of those are yet to respond.

Labour said RAAC could see “many thousands” more schools shut their doors in the coming weeks.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said: “Parents and the public have the right to know where public buildings affected by this dangerous concrete are, what ministers knew about the risk that this concrete posed to life and why they acted to intervene only days before the start of the school term.

“It’s time ministers were transparent about their handling of this debacle: if they still refuse to publish these documents and give parents the reassurances they deserve about the risks to their children’s safety, then we will force a vote in parliament next week.”

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