A high-profile MP visited a County Durham school to see for herself how it has been affected by the 'crumbling concrete' crisis.

 The Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Bridget Phillipson, visited St Leonard's, in Durham City, reported to be the "worst hit" by the RAAC crisis. 

It has been six months since the RAAC crisis at the school began, since when there have been an ever-increasing number of calls from MPs, parents, and the education trust are pleading with the government to take more action to help affected pupils - 

MP for the City of Durham Mary Kelly Foy said she was "delighted" to welcome Ms Phillipson to St Leonard’s yesterday (Friday, March 1).

Both MPs have raised the RAAC issue directly with the Government. Ms Phillipson questioned the Secretary of State about St Leonard’s, while Ms Foy has campaigned since the crisis began, questioning an array of Government Ministers, tabling points of order, requesting meetings and now gathering signatures for a petition.

During this week's visit, both MPs met with the school leadership and a small group of parents to discuss the difficulties faced by the students of St Leonard’s.

This included highlighting the findings of the independent report written by Professor Stephen Gorard of Durham University, which investigated the impact of the RAAC crisis on the education of St Leonard’s pupils.

The report compiled by Professor Gorad recommended the Government direct exam boards and regulators to consider a 10 per cent uplift in pupils' exam marks. 

Nick Hurn, CEO of the Bishop Wilkinson Educational Trust said: “It was great to welcome Bridget Phillipson MP, Mary Foy MP and a group of our parents to St Leonards this morning to discuss the school's ongoing response to our RAAC issues.

The Northern Echo: (L-R) Nick Hurn, CEO Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust (BWCET); Mary Kelly Foy MP; Chris Hammill, Headteacher; Bridget Phillipson MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education(L-R) Nick Hurn, CEO Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust (BWCET); Mary Kelly Foy MP; Chris Hammill, Headteacher; Bridget Phillipson MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education (Image: PR)

"At the meeting, we were able to share with the group that a lot of progress has been made over the last few weeks with regard to the temporary accommodation, the intervention and catch-up initiatives and developments regarding the new school rebuild.

“We are incredibly grateful for the superb support we have received from Mary and her office over these past seven months and the continued support from our fantastic parents and local authority.

"But the biggest thanks of all has to go to Mr Hammill and all staff at St Leonard's for their dedication, unwavering commitment and relentless approach to support our wonderful students through this difficult and challenging time, and then equally to our amazing students who have demonstrated an unbelievable level of resilience and maturity throughout.”

Ms Foy said: “Six months since the start of the RAAC crisis, the parents, staff and pupils continue to amaze me with their strength and determination to keep drawing attention to this issue.

"They deserve so much better from this Conservative Government.

"From scrapping the Building Schools Fit For the Future Programme back in 2010 to dragging their heels on providing exam dispensation for pupils, the Tory's fingerprints are all over this crisis.

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"It is clear they either don’t understand or don’t want to help St Leonard’s.

"I am grateful to Bridget for coming to visit St Leonard’s today, I know she understands the difficulties faced by the St Leonard’s community and I look forward to continuing to work with her to hold the Government to account.

"Today’s visit makes it clear to me that we need a General Election now, a Labour Government and a Labour Education Secretary to sort this problem once and for all.”