ASCL comment on crumbling concrete guidance

Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on updated guidance from the Department for Education advising schools “to vacate and restrict access to spaces with confirmed reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete".
“The danger of structural failure in school buildings where this type of concrete was used in construction has been known since at least 2018. The Department for Education’s own annual report last year identified the condition of school buildings as one of six ‘significant risks’ it was managing, describing this risk as ‘critical – very likely’ and ‘worsening’.
“It has taken the government far too long to act on a risk of this seriousness. The scramble now taking place to contact affected schools ahead of the imminent start of the new school year is clearly vital, but the actions these schools will need to take will be hugely disruptive, and this will obviously be worrying for pupils, families and staff. The government should have put in place a programme to identify and remediate this risk at a much earlier stage.
“The wider context is that the government has failed to invest sufficiently in the school estate over the past 13 years.
“The ‘useful life’ of this type of concrete – used from the mid-1950s until the mid-1990s – is only 30 years and it is symptomatic of this underinvestment in school buildings that the situation has had to become critical before anything is done.”