East Lothian school dining hall closes for RAAC work

Saturday September 9th 2023

Ross High School Tranent

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A school dining hall has been closed less than a week after it was confirmed unstable concrete at the centre of a UK Government crisis had been used to build it.

East Lothian education bosses initially said the dining hall at Ross High School, in Tranent, would remain open as the RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) was in a ‘better condition’ than material found in other council buildings.

However in a letter to parents and carers this afternoon head of education Nicola McDowell said it had been decided to carry out support work immediately.

She said: “While it remains the case that the RAAC is in a better condition than buildings elsewhere, we have been advised that work will be required to improve the bearing of the RAAC panels.

“This involves the installation of supplemental steel supports where required. Although a full report on this is awaited, we believe that it is best to take decisive action and arrange for this to be done as soon as possible.

“Therefore, as a temporary and precautionary measure, the dining hall is being taken out of immediate use and arrangements are being made for work to proceed.

“It is anticipated that this can be completed ahead of school resuming after the October half term break and so our expectation is that the dining hall will then re-open.

Shortly before schools broke for their summer break the council announced RAAC had been found in Preston Lodge High School, Prestonpans, forcing the closure of 23 of its 71 classrooms.

Students there are currently using Portakabins brought into the school playground as an alternative as the council looks into work required to make the full building safe.

It also closed parts of the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh and has since announced part of North Berwick Sports Centre as well as at Ross High School’s dining area.

The lightweight concrete material which was used in construction between the 1950s and 1980s has been identified as a concern by Government because it can crack and crumble.

Last week there was anger as the UK Government announced around 150 schools and colleges had been identified in England as having been built using the material sparking closures and partial closures with a third described as having potential to collapse.

The new sparked a political row after it was claimed the Government had known about concerns for a number of years without taking action.

East Lothian Council has been surveying all its public buildings for the material for some time and says no other council school buildings have been identified as being affected.

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