Kensington Aldridge Academy

Questions asked by Bill Ajiboye and Andrea Newton

Concerns about safety and the impact of trauma were raised in relation to the return of children to Kensington Aldridge Academy I. These concerns are completely understandable, the safety and health of our children is a concern for all of us. Meetings for parents/carers scheduled by the school have included representatives and/or information from agencies like the Health and Safety Executive, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), Public Health England and relevant departments in the Council, all working closely together to ensure the best possible support. This information including the Frequently Asked Questions has also been posted on the Kensington Aldridge Academy website which is regularly updated. Face to face meetings are also held to share information and give the opportunity to seek clarification and mitigate against any misunderstandings.

The Council’s Family and Children’s Services team maintains regular contact with the school and wider network; the Grenfell Support Team works with them to provide support for families and their children affected.

Air quality is being monitored independently, with all results available to the public. The Frequently Asked Questionson the Kensington Aldridge Academy website include the following information:

  • ‘… air handling and ventilation systems have been cleaned in their entirety and all of the air filters replaced. We ensured that all of the furniture within the school, as well as every vertical and horizontal surface, were professionally cleaned by Belfor to ensure there were no contaminants. This was carried out in early August, prior to the furniture being moved to KAA2.
  • Specific asbestos monitoring is in place around Grenfell Tower. This monitoring is conducted on all sides of the tower with monitors moved twice a week to measure in different locations.At no point has asbestos been detected by these monitors.
  • As with any construction project specialist contractors will be bought in to handle any asbestos and they have to follow strict specifications set out for removing it and a detailed plan is made for each individual site, taking into account individualities of that building.’

The Grenfell Tower Site Management Group has also provided the following information:

Response from Grenfell Tower Site Management Group regarding potential return of Kensington Aldridge Academy

As an Academy School the decision to return to the Silchester Road premises is one for the KAA Trustees. The best interests of the children and staff are at the heart of this decision. The Trustees have asked for information from the independent Site Management Group, Public Health England, CAMHS and RBKC in support of this, to ensure they are fully aware of the range of risks and necessary controls which may need to be put in place.

The information that the Site Management Group has provided has been in two parts:

The current stability of the building

Despite the significant damage to the exterior of the building, the structural concrete frame of Grenfell Tower is stable and the risk to public safety is negligible. This has been confirmed by a range of experts, including an independent surveyor, structural engineering consultants and the Health and Safety Executive.

Over 3500 props have been installed inside the building to reinforce the areas which experienced greater damage. The building is also monitored 24/7 by a sophisticated system, which alerts personnel on-site when movement is detected. This remote monitoring is supplemented with daily manual inspections of the props and regular visual floor-by-floor checks by the dangerous structures engineer and Health and Safety Executive. There have been no movements of the Tower which has presented a cause for concern.

To assist the police investigation, scaffolding was constructed to enable the removal of evidence. This scaffolding is now complete and has been checked and verified by a third party specialist engineer to confirm its safe construction. The design for the scaffolding also included a protective wrapping so that any debris falling from the damaged exterior would be contained within the scaffolding and to offers some protection to the building against the weather. Scaffold wrapping is also used to help reduce the volume of dust leaving construction sites.

Assumptions about the future of the building

The future of the Tower site is a sensitive matter of great importance to the community. No decision has been made about potential deconstruction as the site remains the subject of a police investigation, which must take priority. Decisions about the future of the Tower will be for public authorities, working in consultation with the Police and the Public Inquiry to ensure that it does not jeopardise criminal justice processes, the Inquiry or public safety.

Although stable the building has been badly damaged and it is our assumption that at some point in the future deconstruction of the Tower could be appropriate. We have therefore started to develop broad planning assumptions which reflect our best knowledge at this time. More specific details about deconstruction can only be provided once a decision has been made and specialist contractors appointed. 

Any nearby buildings and local infrastructure will be taken into account when developing the deconstruction methodology. This will be reflected in robust terms in relevant contracts to ensure deconstruction is carried out properly and with consideration of the requirements of all stakeholders.

Due to the nature of the incident, and the proximity of other buildings, the most likely method of deconstruction will be a progressive top-down approach which would occur within the current scaffolding and wrapping; there should be no reason that nearby buildings cannot be occupied during this time.

As with the deconstruction of any reinforced concrete building, there will be noise and dust generated. Until contractors have been appointed it is difficult to confirm the detail of how noisy, dusty or disruptive any deconstruction will be. However, we will work with local stakeholders including KAA, local residents and TfL to ensure all reasonable and practicable steps are taken to reduce the disruption.

The Site Management Group works closely with Public Health England who commissioned independent air quality monitoring shortly after the fire. This monitors for particulates as well as specifically for asbestos. The results are published monthly and there has been no discernible change to air quality as a result of the fire. As with any asbestos removal, this is undertaken by specialist contractors who are required to follow strict specifications set out for removal and disposal. At no time since the fire has the air quality monitoring detected asbestos. Public Health England have committed to continuing this monitoring for as long as required and throughout any potential deconstruction of the Tower.