Just at the beginning of the school year, the Church of England has issued a statement in response to the recent closure of several schools in England.
The closures were initiated after the government expressed concerns about potentially hazardous building materials used in these educational institutions.
Over 100 schools across England have received orders to take action due to concerns regarding a particular type of concrete known as ‘RAAC,’ which is known to be susceptible to collapsing over time. As students and families prepare for the start of the new term, the extent of classroom closures remains uncertain. A comprehensive list of affected schools has not been made publicly available, but the government has emphasized that new evidence regarding the problematic material emerged during the summer months.
In light of the potential disruptions, education officials are considering relocating teaching activities to temporary facilities or, in some cases, reintroducing online learning, similar to the pandemic response.
The Church of England, in its official statement today, underlined its commitment to the safety of children and school staff. The statement read, “The safety of children and staff in schools is of paramount importance. We are aware of the issue facing some schools that were constructed with a certain type of concrete. The Church of England Education Office is in contact with Government ministers and the Department for Education on this matter and is ensuring dioceses are aware of the situation where it affects their schools. We are in close communication with them about any needed mitigations or contingency measures.”
The UK government, in its announcement regarding the school closures, stated, “We have been proactively monitoring all confirmed cases of RAAC closely. Recent cases have led to a loss of confidence in buildings containing the material, leading us to advise education settings (schools, colleges, and maintained nursery schools) to vacate all spaces or buildings that are known to contain RAAC unless they already have mitigations in place to make the building safe. We’re working hard to make sure any disruption to education is kept to a minimum. The vast majority of schools will be unaffected. Your child should attend school as normal in September unless you hear differently.”
RAAC, a type of concrete used in the construction of schools, colleges, and other buildings, had been utilized from the 1950s until the mid-1990s. The concerns over its structural integrity have prompted the government’s proactive response to ensure the safety of students and staff.
As the situation unfolds, parents and students are encouraged to stay informed through official channels and communication from their respective schools. The government’s commitment to minimizing disruption in education remains a priority, and further updates will be provided as more information becomes available.
In the meantime, efforts to address the issue and implement necessary safety measures will continue to be coordinated between the government, educational institutions, and organizations like the Church of England to ensure the well-being of students and educators alike.