The mum of a Durham girl whose school has been forced to close due to fears crumbling concrete could collapse has said she is “absolutely devastated”.

Jill Simpson’s daughter was set to move into Year 10 at St Leonard’s Catholic School in Durham this week, until the school was told it would have to close because it had been built using reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete.

St Leonard’s in Durham City was told on Thursday (August 31) that had potentially dangerous RAAC in its buildings despite surveys being carried out months ago in the spring.

Read more: LISTED: The North East schools forced to close over collapse-risk concrete fears

The school told parents it would have to close on Friday (September 1) and later confirmed teaching would be done online for the foreseeable future.

Ms Simpson, 51, said she was “absolutely devastated” to learn her daughter wouldn’t be returning to school, saying it means juggling childcare and work.

She said: “I think the Government should have jumped on this as soon as they found out. As soon as Raac was found in the schools, there should have been things put in place.

“I just think we could have heard something sooner. Why wait until literally four days before they are due to go back to school? It’s not fair on the children not to know where they stand.

“My daughter’s grades are slipping due to loss of school and teachers’ strikes and Covid, so we now have to get a private tutor for maths for her to start with to bump her grades back up.”

RAAC was used in construction between the 1950s and mid-1990s and is prone to failure. Back in 2018 the roof of a Kent primary school collapsed and RAAC was later found to be to blame.

Which schools have been told to close?

North Durham Labour MP Kevan Jones said the situation at St Leonard’s – where some youngsters in his constituency attend - was ‘ironic’ as it was due for investment 13 years ago.

He said: “The irony about St Leonard’s is it was one of the schools included in the Building Schools For The Future programme which was cancelled by this Government.

“Now, 13 years later, we are still waiting for a new school building, and these problems have clearly arisen.

“The Government have got to take full responsibility for this while parents are facing this very worrying situation.”

Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy branded the situation 'shambolic' last week.

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Defending the late announcement Education Secretary Gillian told Sky News today (Monday, September 4): “What happened over the summer is we had three cases – not in schools, some in schools, some not in schools – and I sent structural engineers out to see them, somewhere in commercial settings, and some in different jurisdictions.

“And when they went out to see them, they thought there’d been a failure, but it was in a non-critical setting. So that was new evidence and new information.

“I decided to take a very cautious approach. And I knew it was going to be difficult because, you know, obviously, for parents, for teachers, this coming so late in August, but that’s when we got the evidence that a panel had failed in a roof that had previously been classified as non-critical.”