Raac: Welsh Government to cover repair costs in schools affected by dangerous concrete

Just five schools in Wales are affected compared to more than 230 in England and 39 in Scotland. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

More than £2.5 million has been set aside by the Welsh Government to pay for all remedial works in five schools affected by reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac).

Raac is a lightweight form of concrete and the way it is created makes it weaker than the normal building material.

Wales' education minister has announced new funding of more than £12.5m to improve school and college buildings throughout Wales.

The funding package will include £2.56m to cover the costs of remedial works to all schools where Raac has been identified.

Ysgol David Hughes is one of the schools on Anglesey affect by Raac. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ysgol David Hughes and Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi on Anglesey, Ysgol Maes Owen in Conwy, Ysgol Trefnant in Denbighshire and Eveswell Primary in Newport have all identified Raac on their sites.

Just five schools in Wales are affected compared to more than 230 in England and 39 in Scotland.

Another £10m will be given to schools work to improve on energy efficiency including replacing roofs, windows, heating and ventilation works and electrical systems.

The Minister for Education, Jeremy Miles, said: “The fact that so few cases of Raac were identified in our education estate is testament to the Welsh Government’s investment in schools over many years, both through our Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme and more broadly.

“I want to make sure every learner can fulfil their potential, and their education is delivered in environments that are fit for purpose.

"The capital funding package I am announcing today will enable local authorities and colleges to carry out maintenance work to ensure the Welsh education estate is safe and efficient.”

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.

Several other high-profile buildings in Wales have been affected by Raac including Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest, St. David's Hall in Cardiff and Bridgend Market.

The new funding from the Welsh Government has been welcomed by local authorities who have been working with the school where Raac has been identified.

The leader of Ynys Môn Council, Cllr Llinos Medi, said: “I would like to thank the Welsh Government for this much-needed funding and its proactive support as we responded to the RAAC emergency.

"These last few months have been very tough for our affected schools - Ysgol Uwchardd Caergybi and Ysgol David Hughes, Menai Bridge. Extensive remedial works have already been carried out to ensure both schools were able to welcome all pupils back to their buildings for face-to-face learning.

“I would like to thank the school staff, pupils and parents and guardians for their patience, co-operation, and support during what has been a very challenging period.

"More remedial works are needed and it is important these are carried out as quickly as possible to ensure all areas within the school buildings are safe to use.

"Welsh Government funding will allow us to complete these works and meet other associated Raac costs, without having to use our own scarce reserve funding.”

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