Recent developments have ignited significant concerns about the structural integrity of school buildings across the UK constructed with Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). In response, the UK government has mandated many schools to temporarily close, partially shut down, or relocate if they lack essential safety measures or cannot secure alternative arrangements. This abrupt directive thrust many schools in the UK into turmoil, just days before the start of the autumn term, leaving schools, students, and parents grappling with last-minute adjustments and underscoring a lack of advanced planning to address safety concerns.
Twinkl’s Survey Unveils Educators’ Challenges
Amid these challenges, Twinkl, a leading educational resource provider, conducted a survey of their customers in early September to gain insight into the impact of RAAC-related school closures on educators and students across the UK. The survey, which garnered over 620 responses from educators and parents, shed light on the challenges faced by teachers and school leaders.
Impact on Schools:
Of those surveyed 76% of respondents reported that RAAC structures had no impact on their schools, providing a measure of relief. However, 5.5% of respondents indicated a direct impact on their schools, and an additional 1.8% voiced concerns, either specific to their school or regarding the situation in general.
“We currently don’t know where our students will be taught and are looking into alternative sites in the local area. We are concerned about the wellbeing of children and staff, if we are to split and also our access to resources,” explained a teacher from Essex.
Of those who participated in the survey, 16% expressed worries about the impact of school closures on their child’s education and mental health. While 6% voiced concerns about a lack of transparency and insufficient information, primarily from the government but also from some schools. 5% were apprehensive about the future, whether related to further disclosures about building materials or the financial impact, either directly or indirectly.
Disruptions and Relocations:
Of the 5.5% who responded as affected, 41% experienced a complete closure of their school, causing significant disruption. 35% faced a partial closure, affecting individual classrooms to entire school areas, while 8.8% of responders revealed that children had to relocate, either within their school premises or to another educational institution.
“The DfE has closed our entire school site due to unsafe structures… We are not able to locate spaces and the DfE has instructed us to do online learning,” said a teacher from Durham.
Regarding the type of support they would find most helpful during these closures, from the total number of responders, 48% requested for Educational Materials, while 38% sought Safety Updates, and 14% saw a need for Mental Health Support.
Twinkl’s Commitment to Support
Recognising the diverse concerns and challenges faced by educators, parents, and students, Twinkl remains steadfast in its commitment to provide support during these trying times.
RAAC Support Hub:
Twinkl has launched an RAAC Support Hub, designed to assist school leaders, headteachers, trust leads, and business leads in navigating these uncertain times. This resource hub offers guidance and materials to address safety concerns.
Rebecca Stott, Schools’ Thought Leadership Partner at Twinkl, a qualified Head Teacher with over 15 years experience in education, said, “Nothing is more important than the health and safety of pupils and staff; which is why we have collaborated with TwinkHive partner Crysp, experts in estate compliance, to develop our RAAC response hub, to support you and your school, every step of the way. Whether you are a Head Teacher, Business Manager, Trust Leader or classroom teacher, we are here to help. On this site you will find the additional; resources, support, guidance and updates you need to navigate the RAAC crisis with confidence including; leaders resources, Crysp building compliance guidance, remote learning resources and the latest news.”
As this is a situation that requires ongoing support, the RAAC Support Hub will be updated regularly as the situation develops, to reflect new information and guidance.
Partnership with Crysp:
Twinkl has forged a partnership with Crysp, one of their TwinklHive partners, to offer additional free resources from a building compliance perspective. This collaboration ensures that educators have access to comprehensive resources and expert advice regarding property, health & safety, and risk management.
“The team at Crysp recognise the tremendous pressure school leaders who are responsible for the physical safety of their staff, students and visitors are under. Asbestos and RAAC are front and centre right now in the public sphere (and rightly so) but we work with school leaders, facilities directors and operational directors of schools and MATs who are struggling to simply keep a school functioning with low capital expenditure budgets. This is about ensuring a safe environment for our children and teachers and ensuring schools have the resources for educators” explained Pete Mills, Director at Crysp.
Twinkl Community Collection:
The Community Collection initiative provides financial and physical support to educational settings across the UK. The team is ready to support schools affected by RAAC, and they can be contacted at [email protected].
For further support, members can reach out to our 24/7 TwinklCares team here.