CONCERNED councillors have hit out at the Government’s response to the Raac crisis which has forced several schools across north Essex to close their doors to pupils.

On Thursday, the Department for Education told more than 100 schools to close classrooms where reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac), a lightweight building material which is prone to collapse, is present.

The Gilberd School, in Brinkley Lane, Highwoods, Colchester, wrote to parents on Friday to confirm the school would remain closed this week; revealing several of its buildings contain the material.

Gazette: School boss - The Gilberd's executive head Linda ExleySchool boss - The Gilberd's executive head Linda Exley

Highwoods councillor Jocelyn Law said: “As a local resident whose own children attended The Gilberd, I understand the fears and frustrations of parents.

“I want a guarantee for parents in Colchester that all schools, academies, and nurseries have been properly assessed and that children are not at risk.

“Our children are suffering due to this Government’s failure to act.”

Thomas Lord Audley School, in Monkwick Avenue, Colchester, and Thurstable School, in Maypole Road, Tiptree, have also confirmed they will be partially closed this week.

Gazette: Closed - Thomas Lord Audley head Simon Essex confirmed the school is affected by RaacClosed - Thomas Lord Audley head Simon Essex confirmed the school is affected by Raac (Image: Newsquest)

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Colchester Pam Cox has blamed spending cuts made by the Cameron-Clegg coalition for the delays to the start of the academic year for pupils at the affected schools.


She explained: “It was the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition Government in 2010 that killed Labour’s Future Schools programme.

“Many of the problems now facing parents, students, and teachers in Colchester can be laid firmly at their door.”

Essex County Council’s Labour group has written to Education Secretary Gillian Keegan demanding reassurances that schoolchildren across the county are not at risk.

Gazette: Education Secretary - Gillian KeeganEducation Secretary - Gillian Keegan (Image: Archant)

PM Rishi Sunak “set out a significant, funded programme of school rebuilding when he became chancellor and maintained that in 2021”, his official spokesman said.

Downing Street added: “What we have seen over a number of years, and indeed decades, is our understanding of the challenges posed by Raac evolve and as the expert advice has changed so has the Government altered its approach.”

Mr Sunak said 95 per cent of England’s schools are not affected by Raac, leaving open the possibility that about 1,100 could have issues.

But Number 10 has said it “can’t be more definitive” until schools have returned their building surveys to the Department for Education.