How RAAC school closures are adding to the mental health crisis in modern-day Britain

Like many parents, I was looking forward to my children returning to school after the long summer holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and love spending time with them. However, for the optimum balance of a happy home environment and my ability to do my job, a return to school was the order of the day. My kids too needed to get back into the daily schedule school brings; the social engagement of seeing all their friends again is a hugely positive thing and obviously they need to learn.


However, the weekend before they were due to return, we received the news their school was one of the many affected by RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete), the lightweight type of “bubbly” concrete used in building schools and other public buildings which is prone to become weaker and potentially collapse as it ages. Chaos ensued, as the school tried to find immediate solutions. Parents and pupils alike were thrown into a period of uncertainty. Communications came daily with instructions for the next day. Initially, remote learning (and I use that phrase loosely) was introduced. I had hoped the days of remote learning for children had been assigned to the COVID-19 history books but alas no.

Having two teenagers in the house with limited lesson plans whilst also trying to work, added to the general stress of the situation. I consider myself as one of the lucky ones as my job is accommodating and I can work from home; however, consider those parents who had to arrange childcare and/or rearrange their working week.

"The emotional and psychological impact of this situation on myself, and my family is palpable. My kids are experiencing a mix of emotions, from anger and frustration through to anxiety at not knowing where they are week to week. As a parent it is natural to worry about your children, however this is intensified when you see them worrying about something they should never have to worry about - being educated.

My wife and I share their anger and frustration, mixed with a feeling of helplessness, this combines to negatively affect our wellbeing. Constantly checking for updates, worrying about our children sitting exams they haven’t being taught for, whilst being socially isolated is causing so much unnecessary mental stress on communities already underserved by mental health support and services."

– Jonathan Munro - child's school is affected by RAAC

The government have seemingly appeared to ignore the implications on mental health when making decisions, indicating a short sighted and cruel approach to looking after the public they proclaim to serve.

As the news cycle unraveled, we heard from the Government stating everything was under control, despite our personal experiences being very different. Parents and pupils alike found their general wellbeing negatively impacted. Concerned parents set up an online poll to monitor support and devise solutions and found that out of 242 respondents, 78% reported this situation had a major impact on their mental health. This is of course set against a backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, when many families are already struggling with increasing household expenditure – this really is for some the last thing they needed.

I appreciate the Department for Education’s actions were well-intended and the safety of children was their priority. However, when taking such decisive action, was it too much to ask that the ramifications were considered with particular attention to the potential negative impact on the mental wellbeing of children that have already gone through such turmoil during the pandemic. When will the mental wellbeing of young people be truly taken into consideration.

Some progress has been made; my kids go to the safe part of the school some days, although not all. However, when there, they have had to share rooms with other classes. So, in a room with 60 to 70 other pupils, they have had no textbooks and no desks and were completely reliant on a clipboard. In modern day Britain it is almost an unbelievable situation.

During the pandemic our nation rapidly mobilised in response to the crisis with Nightingale Hospitals erected within days. Yet suitable accommodation to educate the nation’s children cannot be secured in a timely manner and now places the mental wellbeing of pupils and parents in jeopardy.

Mental health is the foundation of what allows us to function and strive. It is fundamental that the Government place this at the centre of their decision making and funding priorities.

If your child’s school is affected by the RAAC concrete closures and you are concerned how best to support them visit our blog below.

Blog written by: Jonathan Munro

Chat with other parents

Join our Parenting Hub on Clic

Join today

Your donation will make the difference

Just £10 could help pay for a call to our advice and information line, supporting someone living with mental illness who may be feeling in distress during this time.

Donate today