SNP ministers urged to clarify safety of schools as new fears over weak concrete cause widespread disruption in England

The ‘bubbly’ construction material is in scores of Scottish schools and other buildings

SNP ministers have been urged to make an urgent statement on the safety of Scottish schools as the start of the new term in England was plunged into chaos amid concerns over a weak concrete material.

Thousands of pupils south of the border face disruption after the Westminster Government said that more than 100 schools, colleges and nurseries should be shut because they contain concrete prone to collapse.

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Scores of schools and other public buildings in Scotland also contain the reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), with extensive surveys having been carried out over recent months, leading to ongoing repair work and contingency measures at many sites.




In England, it was announced on Thursday that the Government had received "new evidence” in relation to RAAC, and that "any space or area with confirmed RAAC should no longer be open without mitigations in place".

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "We cannot have children being taught in potentially unsafe buildings.

"The Scottish Government should have done far more over the summer to assess the scale of this problem and get repairs under way.

"We need a ministerial statement from the Scottish Government and a commitment from the First Minister to set up a fund to support councils and health boards in removing the material from buildings such as schools and hospitals.”

The UK Government previously called for checks to be carried out into the use of RAAC in schools, warning it is “much weaker” than traditional concrete, raising the "risk" of sudden or gradual structural failure.

The "bubbly” material was used in the construction of schools, colleges and other buildings from the 1950s until the mid-1990s.

The panels were generally precast offsite and used for flat and pitched roofs, eaves, floors and walls within building construction.

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RAAC has low compressive strength, being around 10-20 per cent of traditional concrete, and is also "very porous and highly permeable".

The Scotsman previously reported that staff and pupils faced disruption for several months at schools where structural upgrades are needed, including Preston Lodge High School in East Lothian, as well as Trinity Primary and Cramond Primary in Edinburgh.

It emerged last month that RAAC safety work would be carried out in phases at both Nairn Academy and Charleston Academy in Inverness.

In West Lothian, RAAC was previously found in the extension at Balbardie Primary School in Bathgate, as well as in the nursery area of Windyknowe Primary in Bathgate, and a small section of the first floor.

Repair works have already been ordered at both schools.

Other West Lothian schools affected are Riverside Primary and Knightsridge Primary in Livingston, and St. Kentigern’s Academy in Blackburn.

Work was also required at Lanthorn Community Centre, Whitburn Community Centre, and Fauldhouse Partnership Centre, with Stoneyburn Community Centre being monitored.

Several Aberdeen buildings were found to contain the material, including St Machar Academy, Northfield Academy, Hazlehead Academy, Abbotswell Primary, Cornhill Primary, Quarryhill Primary and Westpark School.

However, the city council previously said there was no structural damage so no remedial action was required.

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One school in Argyll and Bute “has an area of RAAC”, while it is also in one school and one community centre in North Lanarkshire, and one school in Perth and Kinross, where work was also being carried out over the summer.

Local authorities previously said no RAAC had been found at schools in Glasgow City, Fife, South Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde and the Western Isles.

North Ayrshire said in June that studies were ongoing but no RAAC had been identified yet, while Clackmannanshire Council was awaiting a report from specialist consultants.

Dundee City Council said at the time it had “no concern about any of its properties”.



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