Staff and pupils at a County Durham school affected by collapse-risk concrete have been praised for continuing to teach and learn despite a turbulent end to 2023. 

Several school buildings in the region were found to be in a deteriorating condition just days before the new school year started in September due to crumbling concrete, also known as Raac. 

Ferryhill School; St Leonard’s Catholic School, Durham; St Bede’s Catholic School and Byron Sixth Form College, Peterlee; and St Benet’s Primary School, Ouston, have all been affected . 

Pupils have had their learning disrupted and have been forced to travel to alternative sites after some school buildings were deemed unsafe. 

And the plight of those at Ferryhill School was recently put to the government, as Labour called on the Government to end the “chaos”.

The Northern Echo: Ferryhill School, County Durham Ferryhill School, County Durham (Image: Chris Booth)

North East Labour MP and shadow education minister, Catherine McKinnell recounted a recent visit to the school which has two year groups being taught in a different town, with others in makeshift classrooms.

She told MPs: “The staff team and students are amazing, but they are left teaching in Portakabins, the dining room, the sports hall; the staff room is behind a curtain on a stage, and year 10 and 11 are in a different town.”

The Durham Gateway site at Spennymoor is housing those two year groups, while year nine pupils recently relocated into portakabins at the school after working out of the sport and education centre in the town. 

Local councillor Curtis Bihari said: “The school has done a grand job in getting as many people back into the buildings as possible. The biggest issue that they’re facing is they’ve lost about four weeks of learning and that’s having an impact on exam preparation. 

“The staff and leadership team have done great and there’s a good spirit. It’s not ideal but they’ve got on with it and they’ve made the best of it. But this shouldn’t have happened in the first place.” 

The government said 99 per cent of schools affected by collapse-risk concrete have fully returned to face-to-face education.

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Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) would be removed from “all schools and colleges” and they will be offered grant funding or rebuilding projects. 

Education minister Damian Hinds replied: “We have moved quickly to make sure that all schools with suspected Raac get surveyed and to work with schools to put in place alternative arrangements, none of which of course is perfect.”

Ferryhill School was contacted for comment.