The Conservative-led coalition government withdrew funds for rebuilding two London schools containing potentially dangerous reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) within months of coming to power in 2010, according to an investigation by the BBC.
The Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls in Ealing and the London Oratory School in Hammersmith & Fulham (pictured) had both been approved under Labour to have work done to replace RAAC in their buildings, but its successor administration reversed this.
The two London schools are among a list of 13 in England so far identified by the BBC as having had funding to address RAAC in their buildings withdrawn by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition led by Prime Minister David Cameron as his Chancellor, fellow Tory George Osborne, set about slashing public spending under a programme known as “austerity”.
The Department for Education (DfE) has released a list of 147 schools in England containing the so-called “crumbling concrete”, many of which have been unable to open for the new academic year or have had to take other action to ensure the safety of pupils and staff.
There are a total of 18 London schools on the DfE list, including the two which had funding withdrawn. They include schools in Barnet, Bexley, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Harrow, Newham, Enfield, Greenwich and Redbridge, along with two in Havering and three in Haringey.
Green Party mayoral candidate Zoe Garbett described the situation as “a disgrace” and blamed “successive governments” for failing to deal with the RAAC problem. “Parents and carers shouldn’t have to worry about their kids’ schools falling down,” she said. “We need proper investment in our schools’ infrastructure to bring buildings up to a standard fit for the 20th Century.”
Conservative candidate Susan Hall and Labour’s Sadiq Khan were also approached for comment.
X/Twitter: On London and Dave Hill. Image from London Oratory School video. This article was updated at 16:25 on 6 September 2023 after the DfE published its list of RAAC-affected school. Zoe Garbett’s comment was added later. If you value On London and its writers, become a supporter or a paid subscriber to Dave Hill’s Substack for just £5 a month or £50 a year.