RAAC Schools in Harlow

Statement from Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP on RAAC - 1st September 2023

From the 1950s, a number of schools and public buildings were built using Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). This is a lightweight concrete and much different from the traditional concrete that is used today. 

Since 1994, successive Governments have been aware of public buildings which contain RAAC. This Government has been working closely with schools since 2018 when it first published a warning note with the Local Government Association.  

The Department for Education has been closely monitoring the condition of school buildings, continually assessing new information and evidence about RAAC across the school estate to make sure the correct support is in place. Over 50 settings have already been supported to put mitigations in place this year, including through additional funding for temporary accommodation, and all children are receiving face-to-face learning. 

The Government has provided over £15 billion since 2015 to support the school estate and keep schools and other educational settings in good working order, including £1.8 billion committed for this year alone. The Schools Rebuilding Programme is also investing additional funding in 500 projects for new and refurbished school buildings. This approach is working, with over 95% of school building surveyed since 2017 being found in good condition. 

Recent cases of RAAC identified in July has meant the Government has acted swiftly to change the assessment of the risk that RAAC poses to building safety. In light of these, the Department has rightly prioritised the safety of all pupils and staff in these buildings, and made the difficult decision to inform the 104 schools with reported RAAC that steps will need to be taken where there are identified areas of RAAC. The vast majority will remain open to all children as normal on their existing site, because only a small part of the site is affected. A minority will need to partially, or fully, relocate to alternative accommodation while mitigations are put in place because of the extent to which RAAC is present. 

Unfortunately, a number of these schools are in Essex with a small number in Harlow. Temporary arrangements are already being arranged by the schools for pupils, either to relocate children in different classrooms, other on-site buildings, or into alternative spaces. In the schools affected, there may be a few days delay to the start of term, but this will be confirmed by the schools with the parents and avoided wherever possible.

To be clear, the Government will provide funding for essential works to remove immediate risk, and, where necessary, the provision of temporary buildings. Each school affected has been assigned a Department for Education Caseworker to support them through the process and ensure that disruption for pupils, parents and staff remains minimal and learning is maintained. 

I was informed of this information yesterday, and have since held meetings and discussions with the Schools Rebuilding Minister, Baroness Barran and Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Tony Ball, who has pledged to support Harlow schools in every way he can. I have also contacted Harlow’s affected schools to offer my full support going forwards and have spoken with some governors and senior staff at the schools.

I will continue to work hard for Harlow and do all I can to help. I am sorry that this situation has occurred for the parents, children and incredible Heads, teachers and support staff affected by this. However, the safety of pupils and staff must be the number one priority.  

The schools have been, and will continue to communicate directly with parents to provide information on plans ahead of the start of term, and should any Harlow resident wish to contact me about this, please do not hesitate to do so. I will of course, provide updated information as soon as I have it. 


Updates to Parents Regarding Harlow Schools Affected by RAAC - (Correct as of 4pm, Wednesday 6th September 2023) 

Katherines Primary Academy & Nursery:

  • Face to face learning will resume on Monday 11th September. 
  • Six Key Stage 2 classes will be relocated to other schools in Harlow within the NET Academy Trust (two at Abbotsweld, two in Latton Green and two in Longwood). These classrooms will be exclusive to Katherines school and not shared with the host school.

Jerounds Primary School:

  • Face to face learning will resume this week as planned (Wednesday 6th September).

Harlowbury Primary

  • Face to face learning will resume slightly delayed on Thursday 7th September.

Water Lane Primary Academy

  • Face to face learning will resume on Monday 11th September. 

Please note that this information is subject to change as the situation at each school develops. Parents are encouraged to engage with their schools where possible and to await further instructions from school leaders.