Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham asks about safety in school buildings

The Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham asked a question on support for small and rural schools on 7th February 2023, during a debate on the risk of school buildings collapsing being raised to “critical – very likely” in the Department for Education’s Consolidated annual report and accounts.

The Lord Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham: My Lords, the latest guidance from the DfE on reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete requires regular visual surveys of school buildings. In my diocese in Nottinghamshire there are many smaller, mainly rural schools that are unable to employ site managers who can undertake these surveys. They have to rely on head teachers and staff to make the necessary ongoing visual inspections. Can the Minister say what assistance can be provided to the teaching and leadership teams, particularly in smaller schools, where the budget is already under considerable pressure?

Baroness Barran (Con): The right reverend Prelate raises a very important issue, on which we wrote proactively to all schools last year. I followed that up in the autumn with a letter asking them to tell us whether they believed they had RAAC in their school buildings. That questionnaire closes at the end of this month, and I would be very grateful if any noble Lords who have influence over these thingsencouraged the responsible bodies. Over two-thirds have responded, and it is really important we get that last third. When we get that information, we will send out technical advisers to support the schools. I invite the right reverend Prelate to write to me directly; we are really keen to work with the schools in his diocese.


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