A politician has hit out after the DfE revealed that exam special considerations would not be given to students at a Durham school still facing intense RAAC disruption. 

St Leonard’s, in Durham City, is one of only two secondary schools in the country that had to completely close down last September after the crumbling concrete crisis broke.

After 18 weeks of disrupted learning, the school at the chaotic epicentre of the RAAC crisis has again been told that students sitting GCSEs and A-levels will not receive any exam dispensations this summer, despite education experts advising a boost as big as ten per cent.

The trust’s chief executive, Nick Hurn OBE, Ms Kelly Foy, and Kevan Jones MP attended a meeting with ministers Damian Hinds and Baroness Barran last Wednesday (January 24). 

The Northern Echo:

At the meeting, although the education ministers emphasised they were "sympathetic" to the situation at St Leonard's, they said that the current exam framework and regulations prevented any possible intervention by the Secretary of State without a change to the law.

Mary Kelly Foy MP said: "Ministers at the Department for Education (DfE) showed me last week that they have absolutely no intention of stepping in to support KS4 and KS5 pupils at St Leonard's School ahead of their GCSE or A-level exams.

"The Government's complete disregard for the concerns of pupils, staff, the Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust, parents, Professor Gorard's report and me was clear to see. I didn't think I could be shocked by the Conservatives anymore but this was a new low point for me. 

The Northern Echo: Mary Kelly Foy.

"This is not over. I've requested an urgent meeting with the new chief regulator at Ofqual stressing that pupils have now hit a critical point in the current academic year and that intervention is needed now - dreams of further education are hanging by threads, and those threads are fraying by the day for the pupils of Leonard's.

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"I will not rest until every single avenue has been explored for these cohorts of young people who, as far as I am concerned, have been abandoned by every single decision maker that I've approached since the RAAC crisis began - and those people should be ashamed of themselves."

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “The safety of staff and pupils is paramount, and we have been working at pace with schools, including St Leonards, to identify RAAC to support them to minimise disruption to pupils’ education.

“Alongside Ofqual we have worked with awarding organisations to help facilitate discussions with affected schools. We have asked awarding organisations to, where possible, agree longer extensions for coursework and non-examined assessment so that schools have as much time as possible to complete this important part of pupils' learning and qualifications.”