Two Welsh schools on Anglesey to close over dangerous concrete worries

  • Video report by ITV Wales reporter Ian Lang

Two Welsh schools have been told to close over concerns about dangerous concrete in their buildings.

They are Ysgol David Hughes and Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi on Anglesey.

Pupils were due to start the new school term on Tuesday but the decision has been made to close both schools temporarily to allow for further inspections.

In a letter to parents, the headteacher of Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi, Adam Rhys Williams, said his school will be closed until at least Thursday 7th September and would be sharing more information about short and medium-term arrangements.

The way that Raac is created makes it weaker than the normal building material.

In a statement the Education Minister Jeremy Miles said,

"The local authority is working with the headteachers of the two schools, to inform parents and carers that both schools will be temporarily closed for learners so that further safety inspections can be carried out and that alternative planning can take place.

"Whilst this will be extremely difficult for parents and carers at such short notice, the health and safety of learners, teachers, staff, parents and carers remains the key priority."

Anglesey Council Leader, Councillor Llinos Medi said,

“This is an evolving and emerging national issue. We appreciate this will be disappointing for all staff and pupils. However, their safety is our main priority. We are putting plans in place for Ysgol David Hughes and Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi to minimise any disruption to children’s education.

The Welsh government said: "UK Governments have been aware of some of the vulnerabilities of RAAC since the 1990s"

“We are working closely with the headteachers and staff at the affected schools. The schools will communicate further updates with parents/guardians and young people. Again, our main priority is to ensure the safety of all our staff and young people.”

The Welsh Government is blaming the late notice to schools on the UK Government - claiming it withheld new evidence about the dangers of Raac concrete.

In a statement, the Department of Education said: "We have been working with the Welsh Government for several years and kept them informed as to our concerns about RAAC.

"We met with officials from the Welsh Government to discuss emerging evidence in June, before meeting to discuss our change in policy on Friday. 

"We started our survey programme in 2022, which is much earlier than other nations and means we are in a strong position to understand the risks to the school estate."

The Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies claims the Welsh Government has 'taken it's eye off the ball."

The development follows more than 100 schools in England having to to fully or partially close due to the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) just before the start of the new school term.

What is Raac?

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (Raac) is a lightweight form of concrete. 

The way that Raac is created makes it weaker than the normal building material.

There is no coarse aggregate - for example gravel and crushed stones - in Raac, this is what gives concrete its strength.

Instead fine aggregate - such as sand and stone particles - is combined with chemicals to create gas bubbles, and heat to cure the compound.

This makes it relatively weak.

In some schools roofs are constructed using Raac planks, which are long slim blocks of the material.

Professor Chris Goodier, a leading expert on RAAC at Lougborough University, previously explained the difference between RAAC and modern concrete to ITV News' Daniel Hewitt