Altus Monthly Update – No. 9

Dear All,

I hope that you are well and have had an enjoyable and relaxing summer. This update contains information on Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), Trustee vacancies and quizzes.

Many of you, I know, are starting something new this September - a new term, school, college, university, apprenticeship, or job. I know also that this can be a nervous (or trepidatious) time, and it’s hardly surprising. After a long period of summer, you’ll be returning to education to start (or re-start) your studies. Sometimes, things aren’t helped by the fact that many people around you always seem so confident, but just remember nearly everyone (including me) is in the same boat and we all feel at least a little anxious, some just hide it better than others. Me? I always find it difficult to sleep the night before a new term - I used to worry (about the worry!), but now I sort of lean into it – after all, after 30 or so years I ought to be getting used to it…


Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (and some later musings on concrete)
You’ve probably read or heard a lot about RAAC, the bubbly concrete, in the media recently. You’ll be pleased to know that no RAAC has been identified at any of the Altus sites and none of our schools are affected by the recent closures.

A little bit of background, page 2 of the Department for Education’s guidance states:
“RAAC is a lightweight, ‘bubbly’ form of concrete that was commonly used in school and other buildings from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. RAAC is mainly found in roofs, although occasionally in floors and walls. RAAC is less strong than traditional concrete and there have been problems as a result, which could have significant consequences.”
By the time Rochdale Sixth Form College (built circa 2010/11) and Edgar Wood Academy (built 2020/21) RAAC hadn’t been used as a building material for many years. (And nor are the buildings susceptible to a huff and a puff from a passing wolf) .
Bamford Academy was built in the window of time where RAAC was used, but the school is a Derwent timber frame system building and has no RAAC present (it makes sense – you wouldn’t put a bubbly concrete roof on a wooden building). Kingsway Park is a complex agglomeration of a number of buildings from different eras. The only one that would be in the correct timeframe for RAAC is the block that is being replaced – this block is scheduled for demolition early next year and is made from different construction materials, not RAAC.
And now for the musings, according to the Cambridge online dictionary, the word concrete can be used as an adjective to mean solid, strong, something. Some example sentences it gives are:
  • We have a general idea of what we want, but nothing concrete at the moment.
  • It is sometimes easier to illustrate an abstract concept by analogy with something concrete.
  • He drew attention to the absence of concrete evidence against the defendant.
Also, you’ll often hear politicians being asked for (or giving) concrete reassurances or assurances on a topic. I do wonder if the recent events with RAAC will start to curtail the use of the word ‘concrete’ in this way - after all, it appears that even a concrete argument can be riddled with holes…

And one final thought on concrete (I confess, this isn’t a topic I ever thought I’d be writing an update about) - we often think of concrete as a relatively modern invention, something  associated with skyscrapers and the rapid urbanisation of the early 20th century. In actual fact it’s an incredibly old technology and has been in use for centuries. The earliest and most famous example I can think of is the Pantheon in Rome, built almost 2000 years ago – the dome at the top is made entirely of a type of concrete. Here’s a picture of the outside of the building to give you an idea:
And here’s another from the inside of the building (staggering, isn’t it).
I don’t know about you, but one thing that really amazes me is how something like this could have been built (or even imagined) without all of the modern construction equipment of today, never mind last around 2000 years!



Opportunities available

We are on the lookout for two skilled individuals to join our Board of Trustees.  The Trustees have a crucial role to ensure that the Trust meet their objective to advance education in the borough of Rochdale.

There are no specific requirements to be a Trustee, just like Governing Boards, a Board of Trustees must be diverse and made up of people with different skillsets. For these two voluntary positions we are looking for someone with a senior HR background as well as someone experienced in property, construction, or facilities. Our Trustees meet six times a year as a Board, for more information you can visit our website or contact Emily Morris at

A few quizzes
Click on these links for the BBC and Guardian news quizzes. And click here for some maths puzzles.
Please take care of yourselves and one another. And always feel free to email me or just say hello next time I’m at your academy.
With very best wishes and great pride,
Richard Ronksley
Chief Executive Officer

Altus Education Partnership | College Road | Rochdale | OL12 6HY
Tel: 01706 769800

Twitter: @AltusEducation


Useful Links


Kingsway Park High School

Turf Hill Road
OL16 4XA