SOMERSET Council has discouraged speculation into RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) in its schools as investigations continue to rule out its presence across the county.

The issue was raised by the leader of Bridgwater Labour, Councillor Leigh Redman, at a council meeting today.

The presence of RAAC in schools has posed nationwide issues as of recent, due to safety issues it poses for students.

Councillor Redman asked Somerset Council for an urgent update on local authority and academy schools, financial impact on the council, and the potential presence of RAAC in council buildings.

In a statement, Cllr Redman said: "The concerns surrounding the school estate in Somerset, particularly around RAAC and the apparent poor oversight by government during the building and handover process for Haygrove school, demand urgent attention.

"By seeking an update on the position of LA (local authority) and academy schools, understanding the financial implications on the council, and clarifying the presence of RAAC in the wider Somerset council buildings estate, we can ensure that the necessary actions are taken by the appropriate body to address these issues and prioritise the safety and education of our young people along with users of our wider public buildings that may be impacted."

Councillor Tessa Munt, lead member for children, families and education, explained that the risk of RAAC became clear at the end of the last decade, when the then County Council reviewed the situation and concluded there was a low probability of RAAC being present in Somerset Schools.

READ MORE: Term delayed at Somerset school over presence of RAAC.

A new testing programme began in 2022 to test this earlier review, in order to provide conclusive evidence that RAAC is not present in the 108 local authority maintained schools.

All of the on-site surveys found no evidence of RAAC in those 108 schools, and Cllr Munt went on to say Somerset Council is fully confident there is no RAAC in 40 of the 108 LA maintained schools.

Further investigations will be taking place over the next fortnight, to conclusively rule out any presence of RAAC in the remaining 68 LA maintained schools.

Cllr Munt added that the council discourages speculation regarding this matter, stating: “It really does not help teachers to teach, leaders to lead, children to learn.”

Non-local-authority schools in Somerset fall under the responsibility of the Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) or the academy trust they are affiliated with.

Academy schools do not have to inform Somerset Council of issues, although according to Cllr Leigh Redman, many have reached out for support.

Selworthy School in Taunton, ran by the Oak Trust, has found evidence of RAAC on their site.

The school will open for all but one class tomorrow (Thursday, September 7), with the remaining class set to return to education as soon as possible.

Cllr Munt also highlighted that the closure of Bridgwater based Haygrove School's main building is not related to the presence of RAAC.