All RAAC-affected schools back full time after half term

All schools impacted by the RAAC crisis that are still working partly remotely will be back to full-time face to face shortly after half term – including Honywood School where the cost of temporary buildings have cost up to £3m – the county council has heard.

As of October 17, Roding Valley High School, The Billericay School, The Bromfords School, The Honywood Community Science School and Thurstable School Sports College and Sixth Form Centre are still operating lessons with a mix of remote learning and face-to-face learning.

The cost of rectifying the situation has been significant – the government has said it will pick up the cost – but Essex County Council has heard that at the most heavily affected school – Honywood School in Coggeshall – the cost of using 22 temporary classrooms could be as much as £3m a year.

The sums were heard during a motion tabled by the Lib Dem group on the RAAC problems asking Essex County Council to call on the Government to publish all advice presented to Rishi Sunak when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer on RAAC in schools and hospitals.

Lib Dem leader, Councillor Mike Mackrory, said: The financial consequences have come back to haunt you – £3m for temp buildings at Honywood School, not counting the remedial work costs.”

Green party councillor Paul Thorogood added he wanted cabinet to scrutinise exam results carefully given the time away from the classroom at Honywood School. He said: “Years 10 and 11 have started term late.

“Year 11 in final year of GCSEs year have two weeks affected working remotely. Years 10 have even more time working remotely.

“At the moment no dispensation is being offered to these pupils but I would ask the cabinet member for education to look at this if exam results are down – it must have an effect on pupils.”

The motion, had it been passed would have meant the council calling on the Government to provide urgent clarity over where RAAC has been found in other public buildings, as well as it setting up a national risk register of all public buildings.

It would also have asked it to publish all advice presented to Rishi Sunak when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer on RAAC in schools and hospitals and set out additional funding from the Treasury to replace RAAC in affected public buildings and launch a Ministerial Taskforce to draw up a road map to ensure replacement work is carried out urgently.

Cabinet member Councillor Tony Ball said: “All schools affected will be back just after half term to full time face to face. Temporary accommodation is not what it used to be. It has changed with quality. I do find the Lib Dem motion to be based on historic and national issues and moving into a blame game.”


Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter