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School buildings at risk and RAAC

NAHT is calling on the government to provide extra funding and support to help identify buildings at risk and make them safe as soon as possible.

The lives of children and staff are potentially being put at risk by the dangerous condition of some school buildings.

The government has halved real-terms funding for major school rebuilding and refurbishment projects since 2010, when it ended the Building Schools for the Future programme. The Department for Education (DfE) estimated in 2021 that £11.4billion is needed to bring the school estate up to ‘satisfactory’.

In 2021, the DfE upgraded its own assessment of the risk of buildings that are approaching the end of their life expectancy collapsing to ‘critical – very likely’. And it’s getting worse. Buildings that use materials now past the end of their working life, such as reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), are at particular risk. Asbestos remains on site in 83% of schools. The government has not acted on this with any significant new capital funding. The DfE’s School Rebuilding Programme is only looking at 50 – from a total of more than 22,000 – state schools a year.

There have been several recent near-miss ceiling collapses, when by chance the school was closed to pupils and staff. We want the government to show the urgency and leadership needed to get a grip on where schools are at significant risk of collapse, before it is too late. It is only right that parents and staff should know about this and, more importantly, that urgent action should be taken by the department to make sure that these buildings are made safe. The alternative simply does not bear thinking about.

We believe the government should set out proper long-term capital funding to bring all schools up to ‘good’ condition.

Latest news

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of press coverage about reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete – RAAC for short, or ‘crumbly concrete’ as it’s becoming known – in schools and other buildings.

NAHT has been campaigning hard on removing RAAC, as well as other dangerous materials including asbestos, from the school estate.

Responsible bodies – usually your local authority or academy trust- have now nearly all returned surveys to DfE on the presence of RAAC on the school estate. The DfE is keeping a list of schools affected (see link below), which it will be updating regularly. As of 27 November 2023, there were 231 schools on the DfE’s list, an increase from the 214 as at 16 October 2023.

News from June 2023

News from March 2023

News from February 2023


Other useful resources




Policy and campaign work

As part of our Fix School Funding campaign, NAHT is committed to the following conference motion:

Conference further instructs National Executive to campaign for an increase in capital funding that will address the nation’s decrepit school estate, to ensure that school buildings and grounds are safe, fit for purpose and appropriate for the needs of the 21st century.

Related NAHT webpages