Seven schools run by a Kent council have been revealed to be affected by the crisis sparked by the discovery of potentially unsafe concrete.
The schools, looked after by Kent County Council (KCC), have not been forced to close but remedial work to make them safe is not yet completed in all.
Schools affected are Palmarsh Primary, Hythe, St James Church of England Primary, Tunbridge WellsSunnybank Primary, Sittingbourne, Godinton Primary, Ashford, St Bartholomew’s Catholic Primary School, Swanley, Birchington Church of England Primary, Thanet and King Ethelbert Secondary School, Thanet.
Earlier this week, the Department for Education (DfE) revealed a total of 156 schools in England are confirmed to have buildings made with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).
It is a type of concrete that is prone to collapse unless safety measures are in place.
Rory Love, cabinet member at KCC for education and skills, said today all school sites for which KCC is responsible and which had a high and medium risk of containing RAAC have now been inspected.
He said: “There is understandably some increased anxiety over the use of this material following recent press reports.
“There are no Kent schools of which we have been made aware by the Department for Education (DfE) that appear on the DfE's latest list of schools needing to be closed to children owing to the presence of RAAC.
“Where RAAC is present and work is underway, alternative arrangements have been made within the schools, and the schools remain open to children.
“Over the course of the summer the DfE indicated that further information had come to light regarding the performance of the RAAC material which meant it had taken the difficult decision to go further than the previous guidance that was issued by the Institution of Structural Engineers earlier this year.
“As a result, the DfE notified any responsible body where RAAC has been confirmed as being present to close the affected areas with immediate effect until mitigation works have been undertaken.
“Kent does have seven schools where RAAC has been positively confirmed to date.
“In six schools, the affected areas were taken out of use before the summer in accordance with the direction of the DfE.
“I am pleased to confirm that works have progressed well on these schools over the summer period.
“It is understood that the seventh school was already working with the DfE and has put arrangements in place that will enable the school to operate using temporary accommodation and alternative parts of the school.
“Therefore, all schools that were identified as containing RAAC will be opening for face-to-face teaching at the start of the new academic year; a key priority for this council.”
He continued: “I can confirm that all school sites for which KCC is responsible and which had a high and medium risk of containing RAAC have now been inspected.
“Inspections continue at the lower risk sites. No further RAAC has been identified to date.
“The primary communication channel for information for parents about any alternative arrangements if further cases of RAAC are identified will be directly between the school and the parents.
“With regard to the schools for which KCC is not the responsible body, such as academies and voluntary-aided schools, KCC has written to all responsible bodies to remind them of the importance to undertake their own due diligence and complete the DfE RAAC questionnaire.
“As part of this, we have also offered support to the wider family of Kent schools if needed.
“Overall, the safety of our schools and those using them continues to be our top priority.
“I remain committed to take swift action where needed, just as we did in June, when a number of schools across the county were required to close at short notice and were able to reopen with temporary arrangements in four days to enable pupils to be back in class.”
KentOnline reported earlier this year that five sites in the county were affected by the issue – with some having to move lessons into marquees.
This website also previously revealed how concerns over RAAC originated at a school in Gravesend in 2018.
The fears over the dangers of particular buildings collapsing has also influenced decisions on which hospitals across the country have received funding.