Evidence of potentially dangerous concrete found in a Luton school

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The council said: “The safety of pupils and staff is our number one priority.”

Evidence of potentially dangerous concrete that could be prone to collapse has been found by council surveyors in two buildings at a Luton school.

On Friday (September 8), Luton Borough Council announced that Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) ceiling material was found in Cutenhoe Community Learning Park buildings. The affected areas include the main school halls in Surrey Street Primary School and the Avenue Centre – a unit which supports students. Two workshops and storage areas in the Luton Culture Trust Museum collection centre were found to have RAAC too.

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The areas will be out of use while further investigation is done. This news comes after reports of RAAC in schools throughout the country. The material is a lightweight and cheaper alternative to concrete and is both easier to install and produce. It was used between the 1950s and 1990s and has a lifespan of around 30 years.

Children in school. Photo credit: Ben Birchall (PA)Children in school. Photo credit: Ben Birchall (PA)
Children in school. Photo credit: Ben Birchall (PA)

A statement on the council’s website read: “Luton Council carried out surveys of all council-maintained school sites in Luton to check for the presence of this construction material. All except two schools surveyed had no presence of RAAC. We are also contacting academies in Luton to establish whether their surveys have discovered evidence of RAAC in their buildings.

“Both affected schools have contacted parents and carers to inform them of the findings and that the schools will open as normal. None of the other areas including classrooms, corridors or offices had any RAAC material.”

It continued: “While there is no evidence to suggest that the buildings in question are unsafe, we have advised the site occupiers to temporarily place the affected areas out of bounds while further investigation is carried out. At this point, we will be able to determine whether any safety mitigation measures need to be put in place. This work will completed over the next two weeks.”

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Guidance issued by the Government said: “In May 2019, the Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS) raised an alert to emphasise the potential risks from such construction, highlighting the failure of a RAAC panel roof construction within an operational school. This collapse was sudden with no apparent warning.”