Redbridge pupils bussed to nearby school daily due to concrete fears

The risk of crumbling concrete at a Redbridge primary school means more than 100 pupils have been forced to relocate to another school.

Some year groups at Mossford Primary School in Barkingside are temporarily studying at William Torbitt Primary School in Newbury Park while specialist surveys are carried out for reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

Although the school is “unlikely” to contain RAAC, Redbridge Council’s leader has said about 120 children are taking a bus to the Newbury Park school every day until the building’s safety is confirmed.

Other Redbridge schools affected by RAAC uncertainties include The Palmer Catholic Academy in Seven Kings and Coppice Primary School in Chigwell.

At a recent council meeting, council leader Jas Athwal criticised the government for “abandoning” schools and asking “unqualified, untrained” staff to inspect their buildings for RAAC.

His Labour group passed a motion calling on the government to fund surveys of schools “in full” and shoulder the cost of having to relocate school children.

Redbridge owns and oversees 57 primary and secondary schools in the borough, which are known as “maintained schools”.

It has warned that without government funding for professional surveys, there will be “delays” in confirming whether RAAC is in the nine schools.

However, neighbouring councils such as Waltham Forest and Havering have both told the Local Democracy Reporting Service they carried out surveys for RAAC on all their schools before the government’s warning in September.

A Department for Education spokesperson previously told the LDRS that if a school’s responsible body, such as the council or multi-academy trust, commissions a survey they can ask the DfE for funding.

They added: “All schools where RAAC is confirmed will be provided with funding for all mitigation works that are capital funded, such as propping and temporary accommodation.

“Where schools, colleges and maintained nursery schools need additional help with revenue costs, like transport to other locations or temporarily renting a local hall or office, we are actively engaging with every school affected to put appropriate support in place.

“We expect all reasonable requests will be approved.”

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter