Seven Scottish private schools found to contain dangerous Raac concrete

Liberal Democrats call on Holyrood Government to name the independent schools

Seven private schools in Scotland have found potentially dangerous Raac concrete in their buildings, it can be revealed.

Scottish ministers are facing calls to publicly name the schools involved, to give confidence to parents, teachers and pupils.

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Local authorities have already published the names of 40 council-run schools in Scotland which contain collapse-prone reinforced aerated autoclaved concrete (Raac).

A photo issued by the Local Government Association showing damage to a school built with RAAC. Credit: LGAA photo issued by the Local Government Association showing damage to a school built with RAAC. Credit: LGA
A photo issued by the Local Government Association showing damage to a school built with RAAC. Credit: LGA

Documents obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats under freedom of information laws show a Government working group discussed in September how officials had contacted all 91 independent schools in Scotland, with seven of them confirming they had Raac at the time.

Fears over the safety of buildings constructed using Raac were heightened at the end of August when the Westminster Government took the surprise decision to close more than 100 schools, just days before the start of term.

The move raised questions over the Scottish Government’s response to concerns about Raac, with The Scotsman revealing officials had been warned about the dangers more than a year earlier.

The reinforced form of lightweight concrete was used to form panels or planks, often in flat roofs, in the UK from the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s.

The Lib Dems obtained notes from the Scottish Government’s cross sector working group meeting on September 21, which showed for the first time that seven independent schools had identified Raac.

The document also confirmed that there were 16 universities and colleges where Raac has been identified, or it is high likely, equating to around 40 buildings, 17 of which are closed or partly closed

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “It’s not good enough for the facts of Scotland’s concrete crisis to trickle out from the Government in fits and starts.

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“To give parents, teachers and pupils confidence that use of this dangerous material is being addressed, ministers should publish a full list of all the sites where they have identified Raac as being in use and set out what steps have been taken to make the sites safe.”

The Scottish Council of Independent Schools, which represents the majority of private schools in Scotland, did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Cole-Hamilton added: “We now know the Scottish Government was told about the dangers of Raac in 2019. Fire station roofs were the canary in the coalmine for the crisis now affecting schools and hospitals, and yet the Government didn’t tell parliament, ignored it internally and even cut budgets when cash was sought to fix it.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats are also calling for a national fund to remove Raac from our public buildings so that cash-strapped public services can get to work fixing this.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said it is taking the issue of Raac “very seriously”, and the safety of people who use public buildings is “the central consideration”.

It added: “The Scottish Government does not have direct responsibility for independent schools – their estate is for them to manage.

"However, the Scottish Government is monitoring the numbers of independent schools who have completed surveys of their estates and have ensured they are aware of the broader guidance in this area.”



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