As many as 44 schools across Scotland contain the type of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding reported to have been used on the Grenfell Tower in London, the Scottish Government has confirmed.
In a further update to last week’s announcement that ACM has been found in schools across 14 council areas in Scotland, the Ministerial Working Group established to oversee a review of building and fire safety regulatory frameworks following the tragic fire last month, has confirmed that ACM has been used in cladding systems on 44 school buildings, which is 1.7% of the school estate.
While building standards systems and regulations for high rise domestic properties in Scotland means that the specific type of ACM should not be used in their cladding systems, in some controlled circumstances specified by building regulations, ACM can be used as part of the cladding systems of other buildings.
Building regulations specify that those cladding systems must meet the relevant technical requirements applicable in each case and checks are currently being carried out by local authorities and the fire and rescue service to ensure that this is the case.
The 14 local authorities are:
- Aberdeen City Council – 1
- Angus Council – 2
- Argyll & Bute – 1
- City of Edinburgh Council – 1
- Dumfries and Galloway Council– 16 at present (further inspections still being undertaken)
- Dundee City Council – 1
- East Renfrewshire Council – 6
- Glasgow City Council – 1
- Inverclyde Council – 3
- North Lanarkshire Council – 1
- Shetland Islands Council – 1
- South Ayrshire Council – 3
- South Lanarkshire Council – 1
- West Dunbartonshire Council – 6
Scottish Borders Council is still to respond.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Local authorities are responsible for ensuring the safety of school buildings in their areas – and if there is a need to inform parents and pupils on any aspect of school safety it is for the council to do so.
“Schools across Scotland are currently closed for summer holidays and all checks being carried out are precautionary to ensure building materials have been correctly used.”
Officials in Glasgow also said that 31 schools have ACM as a finishing material on the building itself, but say this accounts for less than 0.1% of the exterior fabric of the buildings.
In addition, the city’s Notre Dame Primary has it as part of the fabric.
A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “We have stringent fire safety standards in our schools. The combination of fire detection and suppression systems, fire drills and fire evacuation procedures provide a high standard of fire safety.
“The amount of ACM building material used is minimal; it is in a small number of schools and its use is compliant with safety regulations.”
Aberdeen City Council said aluminium cladding with a polyethylene core has been used in the construction of two extensions to school buildings in the city, both of which are below 18m. These are at the western block of Woodlands School, which closed due to the relocation of pupils at the end of the 2016/17 school session, and on external sections of the games hall at Aberdeen Grammar School.
The materials used in these school extensions were in full accordance with building regulations when they were constructed and the panels in question are not the same as those used at Grenfell, it added.
A spokesperson said: “Aberdeen City Council is being proactive in its approach and will not compromise on safety. We are continuing to work with the Scottish Government and other key partners, including the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.”
Inverclyde Council has confirmed that a type of ACM has been used on Kilmacolm Primary, Lomond View Academy and St Columba’s High School, which are all low-rise buildings.
Education convener, Councillor Jim Clocherty, said: “I would like to reassure pupils, parents and staff that there is no risk from the type of cladding being used in these buildings.
“All three underwent recent multi-million pounds refurbishments as part of our £270 million investment in our school estate and all meet Scotland’s stringent building and safety standards.
“The tragic events in London last month have understandably brought the fire safety of public buildings – including schools – under the spotlight, and raised questions about the materials used in their construction.
“We are immensely proud of our school estate investment and our commitment to providing a safe and secure environment for our children and young people to learn in. Their safety remains our top priority.”
South Ayrshire Council said has confidence in the safety of its school buildings as checks confirm that three low-rise schools Ayr Academy, Dalmilling Primary and Marr College have made use of ACM as cladding.
No schools in South Ayrshire over 18 metres – or four or more storeys in height – in use ACM as cladding.
For the three identified low-rise schools, the type of ACM used on these schools is low-risk and one that can be used appropriately for such buildings.
All three schools have approved Building Warrants and the materials also have a British Board of Agreement certificate, which essentially confirms that materials are “fit for purpose”.
In addition, the schools have a variety of fire safety measures such as sprinkler systems, fire alarms, and evacuation plans, which are tested regularly.
Donald Gillies, South Ayrshire Council’s head of property and risk, said: “These findings are not surprising given how extensively ACM – which comes in many forms – is used in the construction industry and we continue to have confidence in the safety of our school estate.
“To provide complete reassurance, we are continuing with further checks of our school estate over the summer months; however we do not expect these to highlight any issues.”