Header - County Councillor Jayne Rear

Statement from cabinet member for Education and Skills on RAAC in Lancashire

County Councillor Jayne Rear, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for Education and Skills, has updated cabinet on the ongoing situation regarding Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in Lancashire.

The statement was made at the meeting of Lancashire County Council's cabinet on Thursday, 7 September. Here is the statement in full:

Thank you Leader

I would like to confirm that there are no safety concerns at this time relating to the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in the 303 maintained schools that Lancashire County Council are responsible for.

We have followed the DfE guidance in carrying out our reviews. As a precautionary measure, we are carrying out detailed work on a small number of older schools that have had extensions and aim to have these concluded by the end of this week. In some cases, we may need to make additional arrangements for access which may take longer to complete. So far, we have found no evidence of RAAC in flat roofs.

These reviews are in addition to the surveys carried out by us earlier this year at number of maintained schools where a possible presence of RAAC was identified due the timeframe that they were constructed or there was a flat roof on site. I can confirm that no RAAC was detected in the roofs of these schools. We have informed the DfE of all our findings and these have been uploaded to their portal. We will of course continue to carry out our usual cycle of surveys at our maintained schools.

The DfE is leading on the national investigation and is liaising directly with schools where an Academy Trust or a diocese is the responsible body. However, we will continue to offer support to all schools should they request it.

We know that on Friday 1st of September the Diocese of Lancaster, in consultation with the DfE and other consultants, instructed Our Lady's Catholic High School in Fulwood to close for two days pending further investigatory works. The presence of RAAC had already been identified in some areas of the school, and further assessments were necessary.

They have taken the decision to close for the remainder of the week to allow all checks to be completed and preparations for a safe return of pupils and staff.

We are working with the Diocese and other partners to support the school during this time.

School leaders and partners are doing everything in their power to ensure a safe return for all pupils on Monday and are making the final safety checks to ensure that can happen.*

We take the safety of children in schools extremely seriously. Different parts of the school system share responsibility for health and safety, and this can vary according to the type of school and the issue or risk. The county council is a 'responsible body' alongside diocese or other relevant religious authorities, and academy trusts, as well as our head teachers and governing bodies. We will of course collaborate with any other responsible body in delivering its contingency plans where necessary.

I would like to confirm that we are repeating this exercise with our portfolio of council buildings. We are of course prioritising our schools and are applying our learning from this as we actively plan our review of our other properties. Again, we are looking at the timeframe for when RAAC was in use and will bring these surveys forward as quickly as possible.

*Following the cabinet meeting on Thursday 7 September, Our Lady's Catholic High School informed parents and carers that all pupils will be able to return to school on Monday, 11 September.