Minister unsure how many schools will close over concrete safety fears

Politics

Not all schools impacted by concrete safety fears have been contacted and it is not clear how many will have to shut fully, a minister has admitted.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said in most cases “just a few buildings” or rooms within the affected schools will have to shut but “in some cases it will be the whole school”.

Asked whether all affected schools have been contacted, Mr Gibbs told Sky News: “The vast majority have, we’ve been calling them yesterday. But there is a few more that we’re calling today.”

However, asked for a number on the full closures, he said: “We don’t know yet.”

Minister ‘doesn’t know’ how many schools will have to close – politics latest

Labour’s shadow education secretary has called for the government to “come clean” and publish the full list of schools being forced to close because of fears over the safety of their buildings.

Mr Gibb said the government intended to do that “in due course” but he wanted parents to be informed by the school before they read about it in the media.

“We are talking to the schools and the schools are talking to the parents,” he said.

The government announced yesterday that school buildings in England made with a certain type of concrete prone to collapse will be closed immediately.

The type of concrete forcing the closures is Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete, known as RAAC.

Around 104 schools or “settings” are set to be disrupted – on top of 52 that have already been affected this year.

Mr Gibb said he was unsure how many of these would be fully closed.

“In most cases it will be just a few buildings or a few rooms, or just a cupboard. But in some cases it will be the whole school. And in those circumstances we will be finding alternative accommodation.”

He insisted in those extreme cases children will only be out of face to face education for a “short period of time” – saying in the cases of schools previously affected the average length of time they were not in the classroom was six days.

He also said more schools are likely to be closed as not all surveys have been completed.

Despite this, Mr Gibb insisted that students will be safe when they return next week and the government was taking an extra-cautious approach.

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