A failure by the federal government to have the ability to present fundamental particulars on the crumbling concrete disaster in colleges has been branded “shocking and disappointing” by MPs, as they warned concerning the “alarming” state of classroom buildings.
The head of the influential Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) stated an “absolute catastrophe” had been “averted through sheer luck”.
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The watchdog stated it was “extremely concerning” Education Secretary Gillian Keegan’s division didn’t have a ok understanding of the dangers throughout college buildings to “keep children and staff safe”.
The cross-party group additionally warned “unacceptable numbers of pupils are learning in poorly maintained or potentially unsafe buildings” and this was harming their schooling.
The criticism was levelled by the committee in its The Condition Of School Buildings report, which targeted on the intense issues attributable to unsafe bolstered autoclaved concrete (RAAC).
Just days earlier than the return from the summer season holidays, greater than 100 colleges, nurseries, and faculties in England had been instructed by the UK authorities to shut school rooms and different buildings that contained the collapse-prone materials.
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The committee stated the Department for Education (DfE) was unable to inform its inquiry what number of surveys to establish RAAC had been excellent, what number of non permanent school rooms had been supplied to colleges affected by the disaster, or say when the problems with the concrete sort can be addressed.
Its report beneficial the division urgently full its programme of specialist surveys the place RAAC is suspected to determine the total extent of the difficulty and be clearer on the funding it is going to present to colleges for non permanent mitigation measures.
Committee chair Dame Meg Hillier stated it was “beyond unacceptable” that “a significant proportion of children” are studying in “dilapidated or unsafe buildings”.
She added: “The images of classroom ceilings collapsed onto empty school desks released in recent months are not just searing indictments of a deteriorating school estate.
“They are chilling reminders of absolute disaster averted by way of sheer luck.”
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Daniel Kebede, common secretary of the National Education Union, stated: “The RAAC crisis exposes the folly of letting so much of the school estate fall into disrepair.”
But a DfE spokesperson stated: “We do not accept the committee’s assessment – the government has taken swift action, responding to new evidence, to identify and support all schools with RAAC to ensure the safety of pupils and teachers.
“We have now gathered questionnaire responses from all schooling settings within the affected areas. The overwhelming majority haven’t any RAAC and of people who do, most are offering face-to-face schooling with solely a small handful offering a type of distant schooling for a brief interval.
“We have been clear that we will do whatever it takes to remove RAAC from the school and college estate.
“We are working carefully with colleges with RAAC to make sure remediation work is carried out and disruption to studying is minimised.
“Our school rebuilding programme is continuing to rebuild and refurbish school buildings in the poorest condition, with the first 400 projects selected ahead of schedule.”