RAAC: Colchester Schools at risk from concrete failure

The Impact of RAAC on Schools in Colchester.

Update 11 Sept 2023.

According to this BBC report, seven Essex Schools have known about RAAC since 2010. See the article here: Building work was scrapped at 17 schools with RAAC. Also, Colchester City Council leader calls for action on RAAC


As local residents, the term "RAAC" (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) may be new to us, but its implications on our schools are far-reaching. RAAC is a construction material used in several schools that has recently been scrutinised for its durability and safety. This blog post aims to shed light on this local issue, focusing on how it affects some schools in Colchester. We will look at the schools involved, the short-term and long-term impacts of RAAC, and the measures being taken to address the issue.

What is RAAC?

RAAC is a lightweight precast concrete type that promises benefits like cost-efficiency and easy installation. Unfortunately, it's come to light that RAAC deteriorates over time, putting the structural integrity of buildings at risk.

How does RAAC affect schools?

Schools constructed with RAAC are primarily at risk regarding their physical infrastructure. The ageing of this material could mean urgent school closures for safety assessments, thus disrupting the educational flow and even leading to relocations.

The Impact of RAAC on Schools in Colchester

Which schools are affected?

Among the schools in Colchester known to be affected are The Cherry Tree Academy, East Bergholt High School, The Gilberd School, Thomas Lord Audley School and Honywood School, St Helena School. Please let us know if you are aware of any others.

What are the short-term impacts?

In the immediate future, the need for inspections and the potential full or partial closure of schools could negatively impact the educational curriculum, leading to inconvenience for students, parents, and educators. There is expected to be a level of disruption - but how much is unclear. If you are a parent and want to keep us updated, please message us using the button below.

What are the long-term impacts?

Over the long term, substantial financial resources are likely needed to renovate and repair the affected school buildings. We will have to wait and see how fast and what the costs are. Speaking to the BBC, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt stated, "We'll spend what it takes to ensure safe schools". Swift action is needed, as students have had a rough ride already, and this is yet another mess that they do not need. Fortunately, this does not affect all schools, but for those that are affected, how will the level of disruption be measured, and what are the consequences for those students with respect to their learning, and exam grades?

What is being done to address the RAAC issue?

The government's response

Very little information is available so far, but we hope that those in charge will act swiftly to implement coordinated efforts, resolutions and tasks.

The local authority's response

We have no information yet, but will contact the local authority for an update.

The school's response

We have information from the Gilberd School, highlighting a back-to-school plan in light of what has happened with parts of the school that are now unavailable. Expect more updates as soon as we receive them from different schools around Colchester.

This is a Live Blog Post.

The RAAC issue highlights the importance of stringent safety measures and regular inspections in the construction of public infrastructure. While Colchester schools are grappling with the immediate and long-term repercussions, it's reassuring to note that both the government and local authorities are actively involved in finding a solution. There are some big questions to answer, such as how this was let to happen in the way it has, and which department bears the responsibility.

This is a live blog post; we will keep it updated as we receive more information. If you want to submit new information, please message us using the button below.

As a community, we must ensure buildings meet all necessary standards for our children's safety.

Useful Links

Do you have more information to share with us about this issue, or do you just want to tell us your thoughts. Perhaps you want to share a different local issue with us that is affecting you, your family or our community. We are looking to write more blog articles about local issues, in the belief that bringing them into the open helps to increase community focus and sprit.