Northern Ireland

NI schools to be checked urgently for presence of collapse-prone concrete

Schools across Northern Ireland are to be checked for the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (David Jones/PA)
Schools across Northern Ireland are to be checked for the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (David Jones/PA) Schools across Northern Ireland are to be checked for the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (David Jones/PA)

Schools across Northern Ireland are to be checked urgently for the presence of a concrete that could suddenly collapse, the Department of Education has confirmed.

More than 104 schools and colleges in England are to be placed in temporary accommodation amid the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac).

The material is a lightweight concrete used from the 1950s up to the mid-1990s which is being assessed after it was linked to the collapse of the roof at Singlewell Primary School in Kent in 2018.

Schools in Northern Ireland are to be contacted about structural surveys to determine the extent of the presence of Raac.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education told the PA news agency: “The Department of Education has commissioned the Education Authority to carry out structural surveys to ascertain the extent to which Raac may be present in schools across Northern Ireland.

“This work is being taken forward as a matter of urgency to ensure that any necessary mitigations are put in place promptly.

“Schools will be contacted by the Education Authority as work progresses.”

Teachers’ union the NASUWT has written to the Department of Education permanent secretary seeking action in relation to schools in Northern Ireland.

Official Justin McCamphill said: “Parents, teachers and pupils will be concerned to read news reports that the UK government are having to take take immediate action to address the risks associated with Raac.

“The Department of Education now need to clarify what steps they are taking to ensure that school buildings in Northern Ireland are safe.

“Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of children and young people and those who work in our schools.”