County Durham parents launch a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money to buy St Leonards teaching staff welcome gifts as the they move into the new main teaching site after RAAC impacts.

After being told there was reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in its construction on August 31, 2023, St Leonards in Durham was forced to close and has since been branded as the school “most affected” by decaying RAAC and asbestos.

Specifically, St Leonards parents are asking for donations in hopes to raise enough money to buy some new coffee machines for the two staff rooms at the main teaching site and to be able to gift every member of staff an Easter egg.

The Northern Echo:

Nicola Cook a parent of a year 13 student at St Leonards, who has set up the Go Fund Me page, said: “We set up the Go Fund Me campaign, as we’re aware how much our teachers and support staff have gone above and beyond since the beginning of the RAAC crisis, and as a group of parents we wanted to show how much we appreciate them and to bolster their morale.”

Since St Leonards school was closed teaching staff have navigated 23 weeks of unmitigated disruption to school life meaning, Nicola highlighted that teaching staff have had to adjust class plans, teach from multiple locations including running online classes from their own homes in person classes at various locations, including local hotels, office blocks and Ushaw College.

Nicola also said that during the half term break staff have voluntarily been in school offering catch up lessons and revision sessions for students, as well as helping move furniture and equipment across the busy A691 dual carriageway that separates the main school site with the Our Lady of Help temporary buildings which are due to open next week.

Nicola said: “Like a housewarming gift, we thought it would be nice to buy a welcome gift for all staff as they move into the new site, which will finally mean our Yr7s and Yr8s can finally integrate back with the rest of the school community.”

“Our teachers and staff have shown amazing resilience despite the disruption caused by the loss of around 60% of the useable school space, but as we approach the exam season, they are at a very real risk of burnout.”

In Professor Stephen Gorard’s Impact Report from Durham University’s Evidence Centre for Education, Professor Gorard noted the following comments from some of the St Leonards teachers: “My teaching has been really impacted by this situation. I have to make so many adjustments for each lesson and in doing so I am unable to catch up with feedback on pupils’ work.”

And: “There is no space to read or mark pupils’ work. I have to take loads of papers home so that I can work. My weekends are even not free because there is so much marking and planning to do.”

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The Northern Echo: Some students are being taught in pop up classrooms in the school's sports hall.

Nicola said: “This is why we’re raising these funds. The government are refusing to acknowledge there has been any impact of RAAC on staff morale or lost learning, or indeed our teacher’s abilities to teach. But the evidence speaks for itself.

“If they won’t acknowledge our amazing staff, as parents, we will.

“Our teachers are doing everything they can to reverse the lack of leadership and action by the DfE in protecting our current exam cohort’s futures, and they deserve some recognition for that.

Their hope is that this small gesture will let all staff know how much they are appreciated as the the teaching staff continue to do their best for St Leonard’s children despite difficult circumstances they continue to face as a consequence of the RAAC scandal.

The Go Fund Me set up by Nicola Cook page is at: