RAAC Update

The council and the school have been working closely to manage the implications of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in the ceilings of the main teaching block, the kitchen and dining area and the community theatre.

About RAAC

RAAC is a lightweight form of concrete that was used extensively in the construction of schools, hospitals, etc., from the 1950s to the early 1990s. It was mainly used as panels in ceilings (as at Hornsey School for Girls) and walls. RAAC does not have the same tensile strength of other forms of concrete, and has ‘failed’ in some cases, with panels cracking and in some isolated instances breaking up. Although the panels found at Hornsey School were not in that bad a condition, RAAC is being made safe in all schools, ahead of its removal in due course. The council and the school acted swiftly to isolate all areas affected by RAAC once its presence and condition was confirmed and put alternative arrangements in place to mitigate disruption as much as possible.

Works to restore areas to use

The council procured a contractor in June 2023 to return some science labs to use for September and convert an existing block to replace other classrooms and labs that remain closed. This was achieved and work then commenced on the community theatre and latterly on the kitchen and part of the ceiling of the dining area (the rest does not contain RAAC). Good progress had been made by the end of 2023, with approximately 60% of the community theatre ceiling addressed and works on the kitchen and dining area due to commence.

Alternative arrangements have been put in place for dining. We fully understand the challenge this has presented in ensuring pupils have access to a full menu but we continue to work with the catering contractor to improve the offer as much as possible.

The council has had to replace the original contractor but works should recommence in April. By the start of the new academic year in September we expect to have returned the kitchen, all of the dining area, more labs and the community theatre to full use.

Replacing the old teaching block

The Department for Education (DfE) announced on 8 February 2024 that Hornsey School for Girls has been included in its School Rebuilding Programme (SRP). You can read more about this here: https://educationhub.blog.gov.uk/2024/02/08/new-guidance-on-raac-in-education-settings/

The SRP carries out major rebuilding and refurbishment projects at school and sixth-form college buildings across England. It is managed and delivered directly by the DfE. We will update parents on the scope of and timescale for the works at Hornsey School for Girls as soon as these have been released by DfE. The SRP will not necessarily see the whole school being rebuilt, as some buildings on site may be deemed in good enough condition to be retained. DfE will confirm this in due course, once it has reviewed all options for the site.

This is fantastic news for the school and ensures it will continue to be a beacon for the highest standards of education in Haringey, London and nationally. It will provide improved facilities on the current site, while permanently removing RAAC from the school.

The council will continue to support Hornsey School for Girls throughout the run up to, and during, the SRP project to ensure that it can continue to provide an excellent education to all its pupils. The period since RAAC was discovered has been challenging, but there is now clarity that the school will have new facilities to support its continuing to deliver excellent education outcomes.