Schools fail fire safety tests

Jonathan Owen

Source: Shutterstock / C. Hoyer

Tests carried out after Grenfell fire

Cladding on two schools tested in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire has failed combustibility tests, the Department for Education (DfE) announced today.

Schools, colleges and universities in England – amounting to more than 20,000 institutions – were instructed to undertake building checks “to identify those that might require further investigation,” after the Kensington tower block went up in flames last month. 

To date, just three schools have had samples of cladding tested by the Building Research Establishment – two of which have failed.

In a statement, the DfE said: “Results of these two tests confirmed that the cladding was not of limited combustibility and the affected schools have been informed.”

The two schools, both in London, are the London Enterprise Academy, in Tower Hamlets; and The Bridge, a primary special school, in Islington. In the case of the primary school, it is “part of a residential block which has ACM cladding that has not passed combustibility tests”.

The statement added: “As a precautionary step, both schools have already been inspected by the Fire and Rescue Service who confirmed appropriate measures are in place to mitigate the risks from potential fire, and the buildings have now been declared safe for continued use.”

In the meantime, individual DfE officials have been assigned to the schools “to support them and ensure all the necessary steps are taken to ensure the continued safety of the buildings.”

All schools already have to follow a range of strict fire safety regulations and must have robust plans to follow in the event of a fire, conduct regular fire drills, install sprinklers if an assessment deems them necessary and typically have multiple exit routes, according to the DfE.

The government department has yet to indicate the number of institutions with cladding which may need to be tested.

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