Katherines Primary Academy ordered to close due to safety concerns over aerated concrete

Education / Fri 1st Sep 2023 at 12:26pm

KATHERINES Primary Academy has informed parents and guardians that the school has closed with “immediate effect” due to safety concerns.

The chief executive officer of NET Academies, Jo Coton and Head of School, Annette Norris wrote to all concerned on Thursday August 31st.

The start of the new school term will be delayed (on site) until at least September 11th.

A spokesperson for Katherines Primary Academy said:

“Katherines Primary Academy has been closed due to reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in the structure of the building following guidance from the Department for Education (DfE).

“We know the closure will mean disruption but we are committed to ensuring that the impact on the children is kept to an absolute minimum. All education will therefore continue in person, albeit with term starting at a slightly later date, Monday 11th September. Nursery, Reception and Years 1 and 2 will be kept on site at Katherines, using the classrooms in the Annexe and the Lodge, parts of the building which do not contain RAAC and which are therefore safe to access.

Years 3, 4, 5 and 6) will be relocated to other NET schools in Harlow. This is a temporary measure and the DfE and Essex County Council will be supporting us with longer term remediation measures so that we can bring all children back into classrooms together once they are fully confident it is safe to do so. Children’s teachers will move with them so that they have a familiar adult at the school. The timings of the school day will remain the same, 8:40am to 3:45pm.

“We appreciate that the timing of this decision, shortly before the start of the school term, is far from ideal. The decision has been taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure pupil and staff safety, which is our highest priority and something we will not compromise on.”

A spokesperson for Jerounds Primary Academy said:

“We are pleased to let you know that following a meeting with Essex County Council this morning, the school is safe to be used as normal. This means that the new term will start as scheduled at the school.

“We had received advice from the Department for Education (DfE) that 

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) is present in the structure of the kitchen at the school. There is no RAAC present in any other area of the building, including the classrooms and hall. RAAC is a lightweight form of concrete which was used in roof, floor, cladding and wall construction in the UK from the mid-1930s to the mid-1990s in many public sector buildings, including schools and hospitals. It is recognised that RAAC panels have material and construction deficiencies making them less robust than traditional concrete.

“However, further surveys have shown that the school kitchen is supported by a reinforcing steel structure, which strengthens the concrete. Essex County Council has therefore told us that the school is safe to open as normal. The safety of our pupils and staff is paramount, and we have received assurances from the council as to the safety of the building. However, we of course want to be especially careful and therefore the council has agreed to undertake monitoring visits every three months as a further precautionary measure.”

Some 104 schools and colleges are being told to shut off buildings partially or fully due to fears reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) – a material used from the 1950s to mid-1990s – could suddenly collapse. 

YH is attempting to establish whether there are other Harlow schools affected.


RAAC is a lightweight building material used from the 1950s up to the mid-1990s, but now assessed to be at risk of collapse. 

The Department for Education (DfE) has been considering RAAC as a potential issue since late 2018.

More follows.

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9 Comments for Katherines Primary Academy ordered to close due to safety concerns over aerated concrete:

2023-09-01 13:00:34

Such a shame the Conservatives cancelled the Labour Government's schools rebuild program when they came to power in 2010. Even worse that they chose to ignore warnings about RAAC five years ago.

Stephen Archer
2023-09-01 14:29:36

I'm willing to bet that no public school or posh grammar or state secondary where the children of government ministers attend will have a problem with RAAC. Or if it did, it was quietly dealt with years ago.

2023-09-01 15:11:40

And the council want to demolish a beautiful house in Harlow that is 100 years old. LoL.Is nothing built/ made to last nowadays,what a joke this modern day is,i want to be living in victorian times.😆😆😆

Tracy George
2023-09-01 16:02:40

Is there anything at all that the Cons can do right? I mean, am not even staunchly affiliated to any particular party, but this gov just seem to get it wrong at every single turn, no matter what they turn their hands at. To not act on this report for the last 5 years, or do anything this summer holiday is just stupid. I feel so sorry for the parents, teachers and most of all the kids who's education will again be disrupted through no fault of their own.

2023-09-01 19:59:16

Harlowbury school is also closed!

Concerned parent
2023-09-02 01:15:28

Harlowbury primary school has been closed also, just been told today and they reckon they was only told of changes to the DFE policy change yesterday, they had a survey done in June regarding the issues around RAAC yet failed to inform parents then so is safety there paramount concerns if so why not tell is then. Also other schools already have plans in place to continue learning yet all harlow bury have said is there is a meeting on Monday the 4th September for parents to attend, no plan on who can go back or if they are being sent to other schools under there academy, the school roof has the issues so can't see it being aloud to remain open so what's the plan squeeze 30 kids from each class in harlow bury into a class of 30 other children this is not acceptable considering they was meant to have a new school being built what has the council or MP done. What have they actually done apart from talk cheap words

Casual Observer
2023-09-02 08:28:36

My house is 300 years old, still standing, don't know what it's made of but maybe the property developers/D of E, should come and have a look - get a few ideas?

2023-09-02 10:43:24

I see that Councillor Swords is trying to blame everyone but his own Government for this scandal. Yet it was his Tory Party who were in power in 1994 when these problems first came to light, and they did nothing then. It was his Tory Government that cancelled the previous Labour Governments project to rebuild schools with modern, safe materials when they came into power in 2010, just to save money. And it was his Tory Government who were warned about the problem again in 2018 and all they did, apparently, was send round a survey to schools, and then took no action. And now, one week before the kids are due to return to school, it is his Tory Government who has decided to close the schools affected, with no real plan as to how to sort the problem out. He and his Tory Party chums may try to avoid the blame for this scandal, but we (the voters) know that we are now paying the price of years of Tory cuts and underfunding, and years of in-action while his Tory Government has been in power.

Amanda lillis
2023-11-19 23:28:24

Sfg has issues and built recently not sure of conditions Article says school times not affected but they are changed And kids dont get same rewards system or after school activities like choir netball etc

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