EDUCATION Minister Baroness Barran has promised to find a solution to a ‘crumbly concrete’ crisis affecting Selworthy School, which takes children and young people aged from four to 19 years who have learning disabilities.

The school, which has an outreach centre in Wellington, is among hundreds across the country to discover reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) had been used on part of its site.

The material has been found to be prone to collapse after a number of years, forcing many schools to close or stop using parts of their site while a solution is worked on.

Baroness Barran visited at the request of local MP Rebecca Pow, who had already toured the Selworthy campus and made urgent calls to the Department for Education (DfE) regarding the issue.

The Minister wanted to look for herself and fully understand the impact of RAAC on Selworthy school life and see the safety measures which had been put in place,.

She was also able to speak personally with executive headteacher Mark Ruffett and Oak Partnership Trust chief executive Ian Robinson.

Ms Pow said: “I would like to thank Baroness Barran for responding to my urgent call and for her time on Friday, and to thank Ian Robinson and all of his team for continuing to do their much-valued work at Selworthy. 

“Following my first visit to the school, I realised the full impact that RAAC is having on the staff and students and immediately contacted the DfE to stress the seriousness of the situation.

“I was pleased that the Department responded promptly and that I was able to visit again, accompanied by the Minister, so that she could see first-hand the impact this is having on the school.

“It is all credit to the Selworthy staff that they have adapted quickly to the situation so that the school can remain open.

“Together with a dedicated DfE team a future solution will be proposed following detailed surveying which is underway.

“I will report back on the next steps as soon as I am able and will be working with the school and the DfE to ensure suitable solutions.”

Baroness Barran said: “The safety of our students and teachers remains our number one priority, which is why my focus has been on ensuring that every school affected by RAAC is being supported properly.

“Witnessing the remarkable efforts of head teachers and responsible bodies at Selworthy Special School to ensure education can continue fills me with profound admiration.

“I am also hugely grateful to Rebecca Pow for her ongoing work and support of the school. 

“We will continue to work with the school to determine what mitigation measures will be the most appropriate and identify a long-term solution for the school and its pupils.”