Waltham Forest schools in the clear over concrete crisis

Waltham Forest Council has confirmed that all schools in the borough will open next week, following concerns about buildings made with concrete that may collapse.

Yesterday (August 31), the Department for Education announced that more than 100 schools, colleges and nurseries in England will need to close immediately due to crumbling concrete.

A council spokesperson has now confirmed that none of the schools in Waltham Forest will be affected.

However, it is unclear whether any local schools are made with RAAC that has been made safe already.

Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) is weaker than traditional concrete and has been known to collapse with little to no warning.

Schools built from RAAC have been told they must stay closed until they introduce new safety measures such as ceilings propped up by scaffolding.

A DfE spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that all affected schools have been informed but it does not plan to release a list to the media.

In a statement yesterday, the department said: “Recent cases have now changed our assessment of the risk that RAAC poses to building safety.

“We are taking immediate steps to ensure the safety of staff and pupils in line with this.”

The National Education Union’s joint branch and district secretary for Waltham Forest, Paul Phillips, also said he is unaware of any affected school buildings in the borough.

He added: “At the moment the fact that we haven’t heard anything is a bit more of a relief than anything else.

“But I wouldn’t be surprised if the council was being kept in the dark by the DfE itself.”

In April, Waltham Forest Council approved a budget of at least £3.8 million to replace RAAC in parts of Leyton Leisure Centre’s roof.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter