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Two Kent schools reopen to pupils after concrete checks

Two Kent schools reopen to pupils after concrete checks

Two Kent schools have reopened after being forced to shut for a day amid concerns over the risk of collapsing concrete.

Palmarsh Primary in Hythe was closed completely on Tuesday and St James’ Church of England Primary in Tunbridge Wells was partially closed, due to the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac).

The schools received letters from the Department for Education (DfE) ordering all Raac-affected buildings to be vacated immediately, even in cases where they were previously seen as “non-critical”.

Further clarifications and discussions with the DfE led to both schools reopening to pupils on Wednesday.

The announcement came as more than 100 schools have been partially or fully closed due to the issue.

A Kent County Council spokesman said on Tuesday: “We do not and did not believe that any areas of these schools were in imminent danger, but the DfE letter prompted a safety-first approach, and we advised those schools to take Raac-affected areas out of use immediately as a precautionary measure whilst the clarification was received.

“We are pleased to confirm that our original assessment of the situation was accurate and that all pupils at both schools can resume their face-to-face education tomorrow.

“We recognise that this has been an anxious and disruptive time for parents and children, but we will not compromise the safety of children when there has been this kind of uncertainty.”

The two schools are among seven listed by Kent County Council as having Raac confirmed in their buildings.

In a previous statement on Saturday, the council’s education chief, Rory Love, said: “In six schools, the affected areas were taken out of use before the summer in accordance with the direction of the DfE. I am pleased to confirm that works have progressed well on these schools over the summer period.

“It is understood that the seventh school was already working with the DfE and has put arrangements in place that will enable the school to operate using temporary accommodation and alternative parts of the school.”

The other Raac-affected schools are Sunny Bank Primary in Sittingbourne, Godinton Primary in Ashford, St Bartholomew’s Catholic Primary in Swanley, Birchington Church of England Primary, and King Ethelbert Secondary School in Birchington.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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