Third north Wales school closes after weak concrete found in the building
Written by Claire Carter on 14/09/2023
Ysgol Maes Owen in Kinmel Bay has closed until the end of the week while engineers carry out investigations.
Two other schools in north Wales, Ysgol David Hughes and Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi, closed days before the start of term because the type of concrete was found in their buildings.
The Welsh Government say it will be issuing an update on Raac in schools on Friday.
On 8 September, the Education Secretary, Jeremy Miles, said no other schools in Wales have been identified as containing Raac.
In a letter sent to parents, the headteacher said: “We have learnt that Raac has been used in some parts of our school building.
“Whilst the risk at this point is very low, following Welsh Government advice, the Local Authority has taken the careful decision to close the school building for the rest of the week initially whilst further investigations are carried out.
“I must stress once more that this is a precautionary measure until the checks have been carried out.”
Conwy Council said: “The structural engineers appointed to inspect our schools have confirmed Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (Raac) is present in Ysgol Maes Owen, Kinmel Bay.
“Early indications are that the material is in good condition, however, we are taking a cautious approach and will close the school for the rest of the week as a precautionary measure whilst the structural engineers carry out further investigations”.
A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: “Conwy Borough Council has taken the precautionary measure to close Ysgol Maes Owen while further investigations into RAAC continue.
“The Welsh Government will provide a further update on the situation across Wales tomorrow.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Minister, Laura Anne Jones, MS said: “With hospitals and other public buildings identified as having RAAC and the Labour Government having been aware of this for many years, it still astounds me that Labour did not make the link to other public buildings such as schools and think they should take more robust action. “Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be the last school being put in this position.“They can blame the UK Government all they want, but the fact of the matter is, Labour were aware of what was happening in Welsh hospitals in regard to RAAC, and were not proactive enough.”
Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (Raac) is a lightweight form of concrete.
The way that Raac is created makes it weaker than the normal building material.
There is no coarse aggregate – for example, gravel and crushed stones – in Raac, this is what gives concrete its strength.
Instead fine aggregate – such as sand and stone particles – is combined with chemicals to create gas bubbles, and heat to cure the compound. This makes it relatively weak.