News   /   Society

Hundreds more UK school buildings could be crumbling: Minister

A view outside Hornsey School for Girls, in London, UK, September 1, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Hundreds more school buildings in England might be crumbling and unsafe for pupils, Britain’s education minister warned on Monday, after authorities announced more than 150 British schools are at risk of collapse.

UK’s Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan said the government was still waiting on responses from around 10% of the 15,000 schools in England that were sent surveys to identify those at risk.

This comes after authorities ordered 104 schools to shut buildings with old and weak concrete to close because of safety concerns.

More than 150 schools have been found to contain buildings made from reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), which has been assessed to be at risk of collapse after exceeding its 30-year lifespan.

The lightweight form of RAAC concrete was widely used for walls, floors, and ceilings during the 1960s-80s, but now it is considered weak and unsafe for construction purposes.

Keegan said schools that are suspected to have RAAC would be inspected in the next two weeks.

“Most of them won’t have RAAC,” she told BBC Radio. “It could be hundreds more.”

A majority of the currently affected schools would still be able to operate largely normally, the government has said.

The revelations of crumbling school buildings just days before the start of a new term has sparked anger among parents and teachers, and represent a new political headache for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government ahead of an election expected next year.

The crumbling school buildings issue has added to the impression of decaying public infrastructure in Britain.

British Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday the government would move to fix unsafe school buildings quickly after the schools were told to shut some buildings.

Hunt said most of the affected schools would still be able to operate largely normally, adding, “We will spend what it takes to sort out this problem as quickly as possible.”

An official in the former government put the blame for the shortcomings in UK schools on Sunak, who in his previous job as Finance Minister had halved annual funding to repair schools when the education department had asked for it to be doubled.

“We were saying there is a critical risk to life if this program is not funded,” former Permanent Secretary Jonathan Slater told BBC Radio. “I was absolutely amazed to see ... the decision made by the government.”

The Conservative government has not taken repeated warnings about crumbling schools seriously, the opposition Labor Party said.

It accused Sunak of “putting children’s lives at risk” by refusing to approve what needed to be spent to fix the problem.

The scandalous UK government has been facing its worst economic issues in decades.

Also, UK workers in various sectors, including transportation, hospitals, and schools, are in dire economic straits.

The workers have gone on repeated strikes in past years over their tough labor conditions, low wages, and rising cost of living in the country.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku