A SCHOOL in Taunton where RACC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) was discovered is to be given a full upgrade.

The Department for Education has announced that Selworthy Special School is one of many schools nationwide to receive the go ahead for improvements through the Government’s School Rebuilding Programme.

Last September, Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow hosted Education Minister Baroness Barran at the school after it was discovered RAAC had been used on part of its site.

Baroness Barran was shown the safety measures which had been put in place and spoke with executive headteacher Mark Ruffett and Oak Partnership Trust chief executive Ian Robinson.

READ MORERAAC confirmed at school in Taunton.

For schools joining the School Rebuilding Programme, such as Selworthy, the Department for Education will procure a contractor to design the school, secure planning permission and carry out the necessary works.

Ms Pow said: “Whilst the RAAC issue was concerning, out of this situation has come a really positive outcome in terms of Selworthy Special School now being allocated for a complete rebuild.

"This much valued school deserves a modern, fit for purpose upgrade and I am absolutely delighted to have worked with the superb Oak Partnership Trust team at Selworthy and the Department for Education to come up with this sensible and welcome decision which has been swiftly made.

"I shall be working to ensure progress is made and that suitable temporary facilities are in place for the pupils in the interim period.”

Ian Robinson, Ian Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, The Oak Partnership Trust said: “It goes without saying how pleased we are to be on the Department for Education’s School Rebuilding Programme. We are also grateful to civil servants and ministers for recognising the need for this rebuild.

"The Oak Partnership Trust has had as one of its ambitions, from its formation in January 2019, to work with the DfE and Somerset Council on securing a rebuild for Selworthy Special School. This need was amplified when our secondary age pupils moved to a new build in September 2019.

"The discovery of RAAC in August 2023, on the Oakhill Primary Campus, was only the latest in a long list of challenges on a school site that is no longer fit for purpose to meet the needs of some of Somerset’s most vulnerable primary age children.

READ MORE: Selworthy School's 'good' Ofsted rating.

"We were grateful that Baroness Barran (Minister for the School System and Student Finance) and Rebecca Pow MP who visited the school in the Autumn and recognised the wider challenges of the Oakhill Primary Campus of Selworthy Special School.

"We are extremely grateful to our DfE colleagues, who have worked tirelessly in helping us to mitigate the immediate impact of RAAC and supporting us with medium term solutions.

We are look forward to working not only with the DfE, but also with Somerset Council so that out of this RAAC adversity we can build bigger and build better so that we can better meet the needs of more children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.”

Gideon Amos, LibDem Parliamentary candidate for Taunton and Wellington, said: “It is a national scandal that children are being taught in crumbling classrooms. 

"Pupils in the schools affected by RAAC are facing massive disruption to their education, day in and day out. 

“It’s taken far too long for the government to admit which schools are affected and come up with a solution which puts children’s education first.

"In the meantime, schools affected around the country have had to make do with temporary fixes for almost six months with evidence that, in some cases, headteachers have had to put their hands in their own pockets for basic teaching equipment. 

"Learning in temporary classrooms, dealing with cold and draughty conditions and not having specialist teaching facilities - like science labs and design technology spaces - are all having a direct impact on these pupils' learning experience and their educational outcomes.  

“This Conservative government must stop sitting on its hands and speed up the programme to ensure these schools are all rebuilt as quickly as possible and provide practical advice and support to minimise the disruption to pupils while work is ongoing.”