The decision to close some schools and erect emergency structural supports in others just days before the start of a new term appeared to come about suddenly. The announcement followed three recent failures of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac), in particular the collapse of a beam in late August at a primary school in Leicester.
The schools minister, Nick Gibbs, said: “Raac that had been considered to be a low risk actually turned out to be unsafe.”
This “low risk” status meant that, if these sudden failures had not happened, no immediate remedial action would have been required in the affected schools. These buildings were effectively classified as “safe enough” – until it became clear that Raac even considered “low risk” by officials could collapse at any moment.
Clearly, what is considered safe can change quickly, when there is new evidence (or new interpretations of evidence).