Helensburgh Advertiser

School evacuated for RAAC removal


PUPILS and teachers will be moved out of a Helensburg­h school for months to remove “dangerous” cheap concrete.

John Logie Baird Primary was found to have so-called RAAC concrete years before it became a national scandal last year.

Pupils and staff will start the new term in August in a temporary structure built on the school playing pitch.

And early learning childcare pupils will move to nearby schools.

Families were informed of the council plans today.

Concrete in the ceiling about the girls’ washroom was first found to have disappeare­d in August 2017.

But the same type of material – known as Siporex – is also present in other parts of the school and over the entire gym hall.

It took until August 2023 for more than 100 schools in England to close over RAAC and a national reckoning with its use in public buildings.

The school has never been closed to pupils or staff.

Argyll and Bute Council had been told by structural engineers that a repair was not suitable to JLB Primary, where a slab of the lightweigh­t concrete was found to have dropped 10cm.

The council last year announced a £3 million programme to remove the concrete and carry out works.

Now they have revealed work will start in July and require a new temporary modular school to “help minimise disruption”.

The council said the temporary structure would include a gym hall, classrooms and a learning centre while work is undertaken at JLB Primary.

They said the council was working with “specialist engineers and contractor­s to remove and replace the roof structure. The essential works are likely to take approximat­ely nine months”.

Primary and learning centre pupils will start the new term in August in the temporary school, said the local authority.

Plans for ELC pupils will be confirmed when final registrati­on numbers are known. Families will be contacted before the Easter holidays.

Cllr Yvonne McNeilly, Argyll and Bute’s Policy Lead for Education: “The safety of staff, pupils and continuity of learning is a priority as we embark on major works.

“We understand this temporary change is daunting for everyone involved including our children and families. Our aim is to make the transition as seamless as possible with ongoing support in the lead up to the move and throughout these essential works.

“We appreciate this is a big undertakin­g and thank everyone for their cooperatio­n.”

The Advertiser reported last year how a whistleblo­wer leaked detailed reports from 2017 and 2018 into the state of the concrete.

JLB Primary’s problems were found months before a UK-wide “alert” from the Institute of Structural Engineers about the material used up until the 1980s.

“Emergency propping” was put in place above the girls’ washroom in April 2018.

The whistleblo­wer told us: “Obviously they knew it’s there in the main hall. They said they were not doing anything about it – there was no evidence of water damage on the tiles [below the concrete].

“The attitude was just to leave it.

“I can only presume they first knew about the RAAC in the girls’ washroom because they would have had staining on the ceiling tiles.

“I’m not necessaril­y concerned about safety. The [washroom ceiling] was propped up. It’s a huge span across the gym hall. I don’t know what condition it’s in and could be in perfectly good condition.

“My main concern is how lax Argyll and Bute Council has been.”

Reacting to the new update, Helensburg­h and Lomond’s MSP Jackie Baillie said: “Whilst it is not desirable for children and parents to endure such disruption, particular­ly affecting the beginning of a new school term, safety is of paramount importance and it is essential that these works are carried out to safeguard our young people.

“I would urge Argyll and Bute Council to ensure the full extent of works necessary to remedy the use of RAAC are carried out as quickly as possible to lasting effect, to minimise disruption to learning.”

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 ?? ?? Inspection­s at John Logie Baird Primary found ‘dangerous’ concrete six years before the issue became a national scandal
Inspection­s at John Logie Baird Primary found ‘dangerous’ concrete six years before the issue became a national scandal

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