Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) is a building material used for structural, wall panels and roofing purposes from mid 1950s- to 1980’s. It has been most widely used in flat roof construction as an alternative to timber, steel or traditional concrete. In recent years there has been incidents of failure of the material in schools in England and sections of roof have collapsed.
Argyll and Bute Council is aware of the position taken on Thursday 31st August by UK Government in relation to schools in England and Wales in relation to amended guidance on Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). The Scottish Government has also issued statements over the past week with media attention.
In relation to the condition of buildings, RAAC is similar to other building materials in that survey and monitoring is essential to identify issues where they might arise. Argyll and Bute Council regularly visit and carry out surveys of our school buildings with an excellent safety record.
We are in a reasonably fortunate position in Argyll and Bute in that a significant number of our buildings are pitched roofs generally of timber construction and therefore the use of RAAC is not widespread. Additionally a significant number of our buildings were constructed prior to the 1950s.
Argyll and Bute Council has undertaken a desktop exercise to assess the likelihood of school buildings containing RAAC and have also visited and surveyed every Council owned school in 2023. Surveys have included visual, physical and intrusive assessment to locate and test materials. All local authorities in Scotland, in partnership with and following guidance from the Scottish Government, have been undertaking similar surveys and assessments. Scottish Government has been collating and monitoring feedback from Councils.
Our surveys have indicated that 1 education building has been confirmed to have RAAC present. This puts RAAC presence in schools at around 1%. Work is now underway surveying other (non-school) related properties and thus far no other RAAC presence has been found in our hostels, care homes or leisure centres. Work continues to survey other categories of property.
Site Specific – John Logie Baird School, Helensburgh
This one property affected is John Logie Baird School in Helensburgh, and both Council staff and specialist Structural Engineering consultants have been monitoring the RAAC in 2023 during multiple site visits. It is not present throughout the whole school but only in parts.
Steps are already in place to mitigate and reduce the RAAC concerns measures such as temporary propping, avoidance of areas, enhanced monitoring and developing replacement plans have been put in place on the advice of our specialist contractor.
The school remains open with mitigation measures in place. The Head Teacher and staff were briefed on Monday 4th September given the enhanced media interest and concern.
Given the recent announcements and guidance changes, we continue to work with our Structural Engineering consultants to ensure mitigating actions are appropriate. The intention is to repair or remove the RAAC within 12months.
A briefing note specific to the issue was provided to all John Logie Baird parents / carers with specific reference to their school on 4th and 6th September.
A general briefing note similar to this has been issued to all parents / carers across all Education settings on 4th September.
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