104 schools in the UK have been identified as being potentially unsafe because their buildings are a collapse risk due to using reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC). The material, a type of light concrete, was used from the 1950s to the mid 1990s. It is lighter, less structurally sound, cheaper, and its lifespan is significantly shorter than regular concrete. The Department of Education told these schools to partially or fully shut down just as the academic year begins.
The UK government has known about its collapse risk since 2018 with the collapse of the roof at Singlewell Primary School in Kent in 2018.
At this moment, the Department of Education says that they will release the full list of schools after the parents are contacted by the individual schools.
The Department of Education are being blasted by various groups like the Association of School and College Leaders, whose leader, Julie McCulloch stated, “The danger of structural failure in school buildings where this type of concrete was used in construction has been known since at least 2018. The Department for Education’s own annual report last year identified the condition of school buildings as one of six ‘significant risks’ it was managing, describing this risk as ‘critical – very likely’ and ‘worsening.’”
That is exactly what makes this worse than a simple construction issue. It’s one thing to have an issue make itself clear in a tragic way, it’s another completely for this to make itself clear five years ago, and then not doing anything about it for five years. Five years of risk to students, to children attending the 104 schools that now have to deal with these sudden and potentially radical changes.
This is just further evidence that the capitalist state does not care about the needs of the many, but rather the privileged few. A risk to children, only to be addressed once it became a scandal.
The state ‘economizes’ on building materials for one of the most important institutions in our society. The decision to use a less durable and long-lasting building material in the past and not providing proper maintenance to such structures will shift the burden onto the masses in the present who are left to pick up the pieces when they start to deteriorate. The capitalist state seeks to protect the interests of the privileged class who do not generally utilize public education and therefore the priority is not to maintain and develop these institutions. As we can see, they are not given any priority by the oligarchs and predictably deteriorate under capitalism.