Parents at the secondary school reported to be worst affected by the UK-wide RAAC crisis have been left frustrated and worried as their children have to cross a duel carriageway to get to lessons. 

A series of temporary classrooms were opened to students at St Leonard's Catholic School, in Durham, on Monday (February 19), built on land previously used as the school's playing fields.

The new facilities are across the road from the main school, and at the start and the end of the school day, students have to cross both North Road and Framwellgate Peth (A691), which is a dual carriageway. 

The large temporary classrooms are "state of the art", and are currently being used to teach years seven and eight, who were previously being ferried to Ushaw College for lessons.

This means that about 200 students have to cross the road to get to lessons during rush hour, and again at 3.20pm when the school day ends. 

Though the classrooms are only temporary, students could be using them for more than a year as rebuilding work at the Catholic school needs to be extensive to combat the substantial RAAC infestation. Asbestos, found earlier this year in rebuilding work, has also complicated the construction. 

Concerned father Michael Neasham has described the road as "chaos". Though the new temporary classrooms are "a vast improvement" from Ushaw College, he was left frustrated dropping his children off on Tuesday (February 20). 

"I counted six teachers at the traffic lights helping children, but, even though three members of staff from Durham County Council (DCC), two traffic wardens, and two police officers were there, but they wouldn't get involved. 

"The council is even now stopping parents dropping off in the County Hall car park. 

"I was just stood with my hand over my mouth watching, thinking 'this is really close'. There are traffic lights, but with so many children on the roads at rush hour, it's just not safe."

But his worries are two-fol - not only is he concerned for children's road safety on the busy stretch of the A691, but also for the extra strain the arrangement puts on teachers. 

He said: "Teachers are again having to go above and beyond what they are supposed to do, out of their own goodwill. I'm a teacher myself and this kind of responsibility off school grounds and out of school time is not in the job description."

Another parent, who preferred to remain nameless, told The Northern Echo: "It's like Piccadilly Circus out here - my heart is in my mouth every time I see someone run out in front of the traffic."

But one mum, who did not want to disparage the progress the RAAC-riddled school, said: "I'm just happy to have everyone back on the same site again and in proper, purpose-built classrooms. It's as close as some of the kids have got to seeing inside a secondary school."

After the Easter holidays some specialist subjects, such as science and cooking, will be taught in temporary classrooms, with more facilities for music, engineering, and sport. 

Mr Neasham has appealed for more help from the council, asking them to put on crossing patrols, as well as let parents use the nearby County Hall car park to drop children on the right side of the road. 

But the council has told parents that "school crossing provision would be a duplicate resource", as there are pedestrian-controlled traffic lights both on North Road and on the A691 and that  "a school crossing patrol’s role is not to manage pupils’ behaviour or crowds".

However, road safety team leader Jonathan Slee also told Mr Neasham that their suggestions of additional signage to raise awareness of the temporary school, and the use of the council's County Hall car park to drop children off on the right side of the road. 

A spokesperson from St Leonard's Catholic School said: “'We are delighted with our new accommodation for Year 7 and 8, and the start of this half-term has been really positive.

"We have worked closely with Durham County Council in preparing for our move, including re-directing bus routes, road safety education and sharing guidance on safe crossing with families.

"The safety of our staff and students is of paramount importance and school staff have been together with Durham County Council staff on the streets to support pupils as they familiarise themselves with the new route into school.

"We remain in discussion with Durham County Council about road safety mitigations that could build on this important work, especially given that the Aykley Heads headquarters site is an operational council facility."

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"We are in on-going discussions with DCC about road safety mitigations that could build on this important work."

Mark Jackson, head of transport and contract services at Durham County Council, added: "We are working closely with St Leonard’s Catholic School to support the new teaching arrangements and to ensure staff and student safety during drop-off and pick-up times.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and are looking into other measures that could be introduced on the surrounding road network in addition to the pedestrian crossings already in place across North Road and the A691."