The federal government has been accused of “staggering incompetence” after new college buildings it commissioned needed to be closed attributable to security fears, whereas others beneath building have been demolished earlier than they even opened.


Primary buildings at two secondary colleges and a major college in England, which have been all accomplished comparatively just lately utilizing a modular, off-site building methodology, have been informed to shut with quick impact, disrupting the beginning of the brand new time period for a lot of pupils.

A authorities minister admitted there have been points with the structural integrity of some buildings, prompting fears they’d not be capable of stand up to excessive occasions, together with extreme climate or being hit by a car.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats known as for an investigation to seek out out whether or not different colleges might be in danger after it was reported that the contractor answerable for the affected colleges was concerned within the building of not less than 15 state colleges in England.


The corporate, Caledonian Modular, has since gone into administration and the federal government is reviewing all Division for Training (DfE) contracts to determine different initiatives the place the corporate could have been concerned. Different departments have additionally been alerted.

“The Conservatives have bungled administration of the colleges property from high to backside,” stated the shadow training secretary, Bridget Phillipson. “How can dad and mom count on their youngsters to obtain a first-class training in second-rate buildings?”

Sir Frederick Gibberd school in Harlow, Essex, which opened in 2021 having value £29m to construct, was ordered to shut its foremost constructing and sports activities corridor on Sunday. Buckton Fields major college in Northampton, which opened two years in the past, was suggested to not reopen.

The training minister Nick Gibb informed BBC Essex that the DfE had carried out a evaluate that recognized issues with the modular design of the colleges, which permits buildings to be prefabricated off-site after which assembled shortly. “[The review] recognized points that associated to the structural integrity of the buildings, weakening its capability for instance to face up to excessive occasions corresponding to excessive winds or a giant snowfall or certainly a collision from a car.”

Requested if the varsity buildings may collapse due to excessive climate, corresponding to a winter storm, Gibb stated: “That’s the danger and we aren’t ready to take any danger with youngsters, or lecturers or employees’s lives in a college, and that’s why we intervened in a short time.”

Haygrove college, an academy in Bridgwater, Somerset, has additionally been informed to shut its foremost constructing, accomplished in October 2020, after technical investigations. Will probably be out of bounds “till additional discover”.

Two major colleges in Cornwall additionally constructed by Caledonian Modular utilizing the identical building course of have been pulled down this 12 months earlier than completion after the federal government recognized a variety of defects.

Caledonian Modular was one in every of a variety of contractors appointed by the DfE as a part of a flagship £3bn college constructing programme. It went into administration in 2022.

The Liberal Democrats’ training spokesperson, Munira Wilson, stated: “Mother and father, employees and pupils at these colleges might be horrified on the authorities’s staggering incompetence. Ministers should apologise to them for placing them in peril, disrupting their begin of time period and flushing hundreds of thousands of kilos down the drain.”

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Labour’s Phillipson added: “The Conservatives clearly can’t be trusted to repair the mess they’ve fabricated from our college buildings. Ministers should examine what number of extra buildings might be affected and clarify how they intend to minimise additional disruption to youngsters’s training.”

The federal government has been beneath hearth for its document on sustaining the varsity property due to issues concerning the historic use of strengthened autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), which deteriorates over time and is inclined to sudden failure.

Specialists have been finishing up checks on nearly 600 colleges in England recognized as being at potential danger of structural collapse. The presence of RAAC was confirmed in 65 colleges after 196 surveys, of which 24 required emergency motion.

A DfE spokesperson stated: “Nothing is extra essential than the well being and security of pupils and lecturers, which is why we assess college buildings frequently to verify they meet our excessive requirements.

“Following surveys performed at our request, we’ve recognized issues with constructing work carried out by a particular contractor that’s not in enterprise. We’re working carefully with college leaders on non permanent measures to soundly accommodate pupils and minimise the disruption to their studying.”

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