£1m needed to get 300 children back full time to crumbly concrete school in Wickford

Essex County Council is using £1m of its funds to pay for 10 temporary classrooms at a secondary school in the borough of Basildon as the number of buildings affected by crumbly concrete rises to 60.

Around 300 children are being affected at Bromfords Secondary School in Wickford – currently rotating year groups between home learning and attending school – because some areas are out of bounds due to RAAC.

The council has now agreed to draw £1.02m from its health and safety reserve for the purpose of funding the hire of temporary accommodation at the secondary school.

The Department for Education has confirmed that it will reimburse councils who need to pay for essential immediate works and hire temporary buildings in schools and colleges that are affected.

As of September 19, Essex County Council had identified 60 schools as having RAAC. Of those 15 are local authority maintained schools for which the county council is responsible with the remaining 43 being academies, for which the academy trust is the responsible body.

Essex County Council said it is required to take immediate action for the maintained schools and is also working to support academy trusts where this is needed.

The council says it is not obliged to fund works at academies, but has agreed to do so in the interests of supporting children’s education and learning.

The Department for Education has said it will reimburse local authorities for expenditure incurred in dealing with RAAC concrete issues in schools.

While this is the case full details on what costs can be recovered from the DfE have yet to be received. The council has said there is a risk that it will not be able to recover all expenditure or how long it will take to recover it.

A statement as part of a cabinet decision that has been agreed said: “The school requires temporary accommodation to be sited at the school to ensure that all pupils can return to full time face to face education. It is proposed that Essex County Council source the temporary accommodation and a separate decision will be taken regarding this.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter