Teachers groups have rounded on the government for not banning the use of all combustible cladding on new schools in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower disaster.
Calls have been mounting for stricter regulation of types of insulation and panels can be used on buildings after a fire ripped through the tower block in west London last year, killing at least 72 people.
Survivors and lobby groups had hoped for an outright ban on plastics, wood and products that include combustible materials such as aluminium composite in the external wall systems of all complex and high-rise buildings.
But on Monday the government confirmed the ban would only apply to new residential school buildings over 18 metres tall, as well as new hospitals, care homes and student accommodation of the same height.
“It is incomprehensible that there will not be a ban on combustible cladding on school buildings,” said Andrew Morris, Assistant General Secretary of the NEU union.
“The government has ignored the NEU’s calls for urgent checks on all schools to look for combustible cladding and for a timeline for its removal. The government should take action to ensure that combustible cladding will never again be used in any school building.”
Julia Harnden, funding specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders said that combustible cladding “should be banned in all new school buildings regardless of the height of the building”.
“We’ll be seeking clarification from the government on this matter,” she said.
“We have urged the government to undertake a full survey of the school estate to establish and log all buildings clad in materials which may be combustible so that we can better understand any fire risks and take appropriate action.”
A Department of Education national survey of school fire safety after the Grenfell fire identified only three buildings over 18 metres high which contained aluminium composite materials.