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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Two schools in North Tyneside closed after concrete fell from ceiling

Two schools in North Tyneside closed after concrete fell from ceiling

Two schools in north-east England have been closed and two more partly shut over safety concerns after concrete fell from a ceiling.

North Tyneside council said concerns about Fordley and Hazlewood primary schools, Churchill community college and Grasmere academy were not related to the widespread reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) crisis, which has affected more than 230 schools in England.

A “small piece of concrete” fell overnight in the IT suite at Fordley primary school in December, the council said.

That led to safety inspections in other local schools and now Fordley and Churchill have closed for some year groups, while Grasmere and Hazlewood have switched to remote learning.

North Tyneside council’s director of resources, Jon Ritchie, said: “Thorough building inspections are taking place by structural engineers, in consultation with Department for Education engineers.

“Until the full findings of these detailed investigations are known, decisions have been made by the schools, with the support of North Tyneside council, to close the parts of the buildings where inspections are needed.

“Where early inspections have revealed concerns, decisions have also been taken in conjunction with the schools for either whole-school, or partial-school, closures. We have worked with these schools to quickly investigate and put in place measures to reduce the risk to the school communities.

“I’d like to reassure everyone that these structural issues are not related to Raac and we are working alongside the Department for Education’s complex projects team to find solutions”.

The shadow schools minister, Catherine McKinnell, said: “Yet again, the Conservatives are allowing children’s education to be disrupted by worrying safety issues with school buildings, with teachers and parents also facing yet more anxiety and disruption.

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“Ministers must urgently get a grip, clarify the extent of these problems on top of Raac, and explain what action they will take, with clear timescales, to ensure all students can get back into the classroom.

After over a decade of neglect, this crisis is another example of a Conservative government that simply does not prioritise children or their education. By driving economic growth, Labour governments have always invested in our children’s futures; it’ll fall to the next Labour government to do so again.”

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