The headteacher of a Suffolk school says students may be taught in his office after the site was identified as having reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

Peter Smith, the headteacher who has recently taken the reins of Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge, said that his team is now looking for spaces around the school site that can be transformed into classrooms. 

Last week, the Department for Education (DfE) told schools to close buildings that are constructed with RAAC over safety fears.

Farlingaye announced over the weekend it would be partially shut in time for the new term due to the presence of RAAC in some buildings.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Smith said: "We’re going to have to be creative. We’re going to have to find classroom spaces on the site that perhaps aren’t.

"My office, the canteen, the dance studio... those things are going to have to become teaching spaces while we figure this out." 

READ MORE: ​Hadleigh High School, East Bergholt High School and Claydon High School close due to RAAC

Farlingaye is one of four schools in Suffolk known to be affected by RAAC, in addition to Hadleigh High, East Bergholt High and Claydon High.

The school authorities became aware of aerated concrete in its classrooms in May, and the DfE acknowledged it at the time. 

READ MORE: Farlingaye High School partially closed due to RAAC

Mr Smith said that the school had to contact the DfE on Thursday to ask for clarity on what to do next because it was not included on the list of schools told to close because of RAAC concerns. 

He added: "This is a crisis for schools. We’re preparing to start a new term. We’ve got kids here whose education has already been disrupted by the pandemic and various other issues. 

"We’re talking about the nation’s kids here. They need to be in school. 

"Therefore, what we need as schools is we need that support and reassurance that this is going to be all hands to the pump and everything (is) done that’s needed to be done." 

East Anglian Daily Times: Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge is one of four schools in Suffolk affected by the RAAC, NewsquestFarlingaye High School in Woodbridge is one of four schools in Suffolk affected by the RAAC, Newsquest (Image: Newsquest)

READ MORE: ​Everything we know about Suffolk school closures due to RAAC
Graham White, the National Education Union (NEU) representative for Suffolk, said: "Head teachers, teachers and governors work exceptionally well, trying to resolve and mitigate against this crisis that the government has created. 

"The government was well aware of the issues around that in 2018, and they’ve done nothing significant about it. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Suffolk NEU representative Graham White, Andy AbbottSuffolk NEU representative Graham White, Andy Abbott (Image: Andy Abbott)

"All of this could have been prevented, and what the government should have done in the first place it to make sure that there was enough money in the schools to repair the issue. 

"Jeremy Hunt said that he’s quite prepared to spend whatever it takes to resolve this crisis, but at the same time, the Treasury is saying there is no new money, so any repairs have to come out of the existing school budget and the existing DfE budget, which is totally unacceptable. 

"What’s more, many parents will have to make last-minute decisions about childcare because they're due to go back to work. 

"It's a situation that could be easily prevented, but the government seems to take a ‘don't care attitude’. 

"Hopefully the repairs will be done, and we can get pupils back into school." 

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders and former headteacher of Bury St Edmunds' King Edward VI School, said that he will be asking Education Secretary Gillian Keegan for clarification on a number of issues arising from the RAAC crisis. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College LeadersGeoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (Image: Archant)

He added:"We are extremely sorry to hear that schools in Suffolk have been affected by the government’s eleventh-hour decision to close buildings affected by RAAC.  

"The action that has been taken is clearly necessary. But this problem has been known about since 2018 and the government should have put in place a programme of remedial work much earlier.  

"School leaders, staff, parents and children have all been placed in a very difficult position because of the government’s failure to get to grips with RAAC in a timely and properly planned manner.

"We continue to be very concerned about the lack of clarity over the funding arrangements for dealing with RAAC.  

"The DfE’s guidance says that it will provide funding for mitigation works that are capital funded but not additional revenue costs such as transport.  

"Schools need an assurance that capital funding covers not just the cost of mitigating immediate risks with emergency measures but the long-term cost of replacing buildings where this is necessary. 

"Additional revenue costs must also be covered by the DfE, for example where children have to be transported to an alternative site. Schools cannot afford unbudgeted costs." 

Speaking on Monday morning, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "The Chancellor has been crystal clear that schools will be given extra money for these mitigations, it won’t come from their existing school budgets."