School on edge of Harborough district forced to shut just days into the new school year because of concrete safety fears
A school on the edge of the Harborough district is being forced to shut just days into the new school year because of concrete safety fears.
The Willowbrook Mead Primary Academy, in Roborough Green, Thurnby Lodge will close its doors today (Friday September 1) and on Monday September 4 because parts of the school building could be prone to collapsing.
The school is ran by The Mead Educational Trust (TMET) who said it was contacted by the Department for Education (DfE) to warn that a section of the school building contained potentially dangerous concrete panels. These are known as reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) panels- a lightweight form of concrete used to build schools from the 1950s until the mid 1990s.
But concerns have been raised about its long term durability, as it is weaker than regular concrete. The DfE has recently changed its guidance to schools on the management of buildings which contain RAAC and has instructed that any affected spaces should be vacated.
This means that the main office and the key stage two block at the Thurnby Lodge school have been closed so safety measures can be installed. Pupils are set to continue their learning online during the unforeseen closures.
TMET CEO Sarah Ridley said: “Of course the safety of pupils and staff is our first priority so we are taking every precaution so that no one is put at risk. We know this news will be concerning for everyone. We are doing everything we can to keep the inconvenience for families to an absolute minimum.”
The DfE has also told the school that other parts of the site are unaffected by the lightweight concrete and these are safe to remain open. Around 104 schools across the country are set to be disrupted this week because of the lightweight concrete.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said in a statement telling schools to vacate areas RAAC is “the right thing to do for both pupils and staff”. She insisted the plans would “minimise the impact on pupil learning”.