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Schools and Colleges Update

Volume 738: debated on Thursday 19 October 2023

This update follows from my oral and written statements to the House in September.

An updated list of schools and colleges with confirmed cases of RAAC in England has been published today. As of 16 October, there are 214 education settings with confirmed RAAC in some of their buildings. Thanks to the hard work of school and college leaders, 202 settings (94%) are providing full time face-to-face education for all pupils. 12 settings have hybrid arrangements in place. This may involve some remote learning on some days as not all pupils can currently receive full-time face-to-face education. There are no education settings with confirmed RAAC where all pupils are in full-time remote learning.

Last year we issued a questionnaire asking responsible bodies for schools and colleges to identify whether they suspected they had RAAC. Responsible bodies have, as of today, submitted responses to the questionnaire for 99.9% of schools and colleges with blocks built in the target era. We are in contact with responsible bodies and education settings to resolve the 17 remaining responses to the questionnaire and ensure any required surveys of potential RAAC cases are carried out imminently by one of eight professional survey firms. The vast majority of schools surveyed to date have been found to have no RAAC.

Every school or college with confirmed RAAC is assigned dedicated support from our team of 80 case- workers. Project delivery teams are on site to support schools and colleges to implement mitigation plans. They will work with them to put in place a bespoke plan that supports face-to-face education for all pupils as soon as possible based on their circumstances. Mitigation plans include other spaces on the school site, or in nearby schools or elsewhere in the local area, until building works are carried out or temporary buildings are installed.

The Government are funding the emergency work needed to mitigate the presence of RAAC, including installing alternative classroom space where necessary. All reasonable requests for additional help with revenue costs, like transport to locations or temporarily renting a local hall, are being approved. The Government are funding longer term refurbishment or rebuilding projects to address the presence of RAAC in schools. Schools and colleges will either be offered capital grants to fund refurbishment work to permanently remove RAAC, or rebuilding projects where these are needed, including through the school rebuilding programme. We are working closely with responsible bodies to assess what the right solution is for each case.

I want to reassure pupils, parents and staff that this Government are doing whatever it takes to support our schools and colleges in responding to RAAC and minimise disruption to education.