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Nottinghamshire school delays reopening because of RAAC concrete concerns

A Nottinghamshire school found to have potentially failing RAAC concrete has delayed the start of its September term.

Holy Trinity Catholic Primary School, in Newark, has been named in a Government list of more than 100 sites found to contain reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, or RAAC.

Instead of re-opening to pupils this week, it now plans to open on Monday (September 11).

The school is the only education centre in Nottinghamshire named in the list, which was first confirmed by the Government last week (August 31) but only made fully public today (September 6).

Recent checks have shown some school buildings with RAAC are at risk of collapse as the material deteriorates, leading the Department for Education to direct some to partially or fully close while work is done to make them safer.

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RAAC is a lightweight, bubbly form of concrete usually found within roofs but sometimes in walls and floors.

It was favoured in construction projects from the 1950s to the mid-1990s before being found to be weak and less durable than traditional concrete.

Experts say it is susceptible to failure as it deteriorates over time, with a life expectancy of little more than 30 years.

Nottinghamshire County Council said last week the Newark school was one of two in the county with potential issues.

The other – Carnarvon Primary School in Bingham – is currently being monitored but RAAC has not been confirmed on-site.

However, bosses at Holy Trinity Primary say the failing material has been identified across its Boundary Road buildings.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Multi-Academy Trust, which runs the school, says these are “mainly low and medium risk”.

However, changing Government guidance means these areas of the school cannot be used until repairs have been conducted.

The trust is instead using temporary classrooms and a nearby parish centre at Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

But it says this means delaying the start of the academic year from this week until Monday, September 11.

In a statement, the trust told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The priority for the trust is to ensure the safety and well-being of all children and staff in our schools.

“Holy Trinity Catholic Primary School in Newark has some areas of the school where RAAC is present.

“These had been identified as mainly low and medium risk, but the Government has changed its guidance and told us that these areas should not be used until remedial works have been completed.

“The headteacher and trust staff have been working tirelessly to ensure that term can start with the minimum disruption possible.

“With a combination of temporary classrooms and the use of the next-door Parish Centre at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, we will be able to have all children in school in completely safe accommodation.

“We have had to delay the start of the term until Monday, September 11 to allow for the necessary changes.

“We have already started the process of making these areas safe and will do all we can to reduce the impact on children’s education, whilst ensuring that everyone remains safe.”

However, the Government list of affected schools, published on Wednesday morning, still categorises Holy Trinity as being ‘face to face’ and open as normal rather than having a delayed start to term.

Nottinghamshire County Council also confirmed none of the schools it continues to operate have been found with RAAC “to date”.

It says records have been “thoroughly checked” alongside survey work with the situation being continually monitored by the authority.

A spokeswoman said: “We’d like to once again reassure parents and guardians, staff and pupils that we’ve thoroughly checked our school building records, completed all survey work as required and will continue to monitor and liaise with schools on this issue as needed.

“All schools maintained by the council are due to re-open this week as planned. To date, no RAAC has been identified in the schools which we maintain.”

RAAC has not been identified in any Nottingham city schools.

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