A County Durham MP has written to the universities admissions service in a bid for them to take students' circumstances into account following disruption caused by the RAAC crisis.

Students and staff at St Leonard's Catholic School in County Durham remain in a "uniquely challenging position" according to City of Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy after crumbling RAAC concrete was discovered in the school last year.

The school is now said to be the most affected by the crisis in the whole country and was one of only two secondary schools in England that were required to close completely last September.

Despite having re-opened fully earlier his year, students are still facing disruption by being taught in temporary classrooms as well as in other facilities in the city.

Now, Ms Foy has written to chief executive of UCAS Dr Jo Saxton in a bid for admissions to take into account students' "egregious disruption" caused by the RAAC crisis as they apply to universities.

In a letter posted on X (formerly Twitter), Ms Foy wrote: "Unfortunately, St Leonards remains in a uniquely challenging position following the closure of the school due to the RAAC concrete crisis. 

"Seven months on, the school has only recently re-opened fully, with some year groups based in temporary buildings.

"Some students were being taught in freezing cold classrooms, travelling between sites and subsequently losing hours from their school day. They had little to no access to specialist facilities for practical subjects - even resting on clipboards instead of desks and had limited access to pastoral care."

The Northern Echo: Staff and students at St Leonard's, Durham.Staff and students at St Leonard's, Durham. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

She added: "To assess St Leonard's pupils against candidates around the country who have not faced this level of egregious disruption to their learning is a disservice to these young people who have worked so hard to succeed.

"I have, therefore, urged the Department for Education and Ofqual to investigate the options available to ensure that pupils are not disadvantaged by circumstances beyond their control."

She then went on to ask if universities could be made aware of the disruption for this cohort of hopefuls as well as in "future years".

The Northern Echo: Letter written to UCAS by Mary Kelly Foy.Letter written to UCAS by Mary Kelly Foy. (Image: MARY KELLY FOY MP)

This comes just a month after Department of Education (DfE) officials told the school that their students will not receive any exam dispensations, despite education experts advising that as much as a 10 per cent exam boost.

Students and parents have spoken out about the stress being caused by exam uncertainty - saying they "feel abandoned" by the government, and that "morale is at an all-time low". 

The Bishop Wilkinson trust's chief executive, Nick Hurn OBE, said the DfE was "refusing to accept the facts" about the "relentless nature of the disruption", and local MP Mary Kelly Foy previously said, "this isn't over - tomorrow we go again."

The initial reason given by education ministers for the lack of exam mitigation for St Leonard's pupils was due to the current exam framework and regulations that prevent intervention by the Secretary of State, without a change to the law.

In a visit to Darlington last month, the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, said she believes St Leonard’s school - which has been operating through temporary classrooms for 19 weeks - has had ‘loads’ of help from Durham University and Ushaw College.

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She said "to change the exams - let’s say because it was a requires improvement school and not an outstanding school" would "not create the right incentive".

Mrs Keegan also said: "Educations are different in some parts of the country and to try and change the exams - let’s say because it was a requires improvement school and not an outstanding school, that’s not going to create the right incentive – so that’s why the integrity of the exam system is correct.

"Exams are there to make sure that you just test what the person knows not what the person couldn’t know or would have known."