Essential and important…if not all that exciting!
I’m into my eleventh year as headteacher at Marple Hall School and therefore I’ve probably written perhaps 400 blogs by now. I have missed the odd week over the years, but not many. Often I’ve used the blog to celebrate an aspect of school life, sometimes I’ve used it to share very practical information (especially during the ‘Covid Years’) and sometimes I’ve had a moan about poor levels of funding or some other aspect of educational policy.
Today’s blog is one of the more functional ones, as I use it to update the community on the issue of Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (or RAAC for short). RAAC is a lightweight building material that was used extensively in council and school buildings between around 1950 and 1990. It was typically used in ceilings. Previously thought to be safe, Government guidance changed in August 2023 and any room where RAAC is present in the ceiling has to be closed until ‘mitigations’ are put in place…which either means propping up the ceiling, installing some extra reinforcement or replacing the ceiling altogether.
Obviously being the headteacher of a school built between around 1958 and 1961 I have been aware of this potential issue for some time. Before the news broke in August our school had already had two independent surveys done, and more recently a third survey has been completed which has confirmed that no RAAC has been found at MHS. This is obviously a relief, but we are in no way complacent. If any further work reveals any RAAC in any part of the site then we’ll take immediate action to safeguard the whole school community.
Unlike some parts of the country RAAC does not appear to have been that widely used across Stockport. It has been found in some schools and school leaders and the Local Authority are working really hard to fix the issues asap. I am not sure if MHS can help at all in this, but if we can then we will. We are all responsible for educating the young people of Stockport and that means pitching in when necessary.
Perhaps though there is a much bigger point here. Governments of all persuasions have neglected the national school estate for decades, to the point that the buildings are now on their last legs. I love our old MHS buildings, and we have looked after them tenderly, but they are very much in need of some investment. I hope that the current national RAAC crisis might just spur our current or future leaders to invest properly in children and their futures.
Have a great weekend,