Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for mitigating circumstances to be considered for pupils taking important exams at a school badly affected by the crumbling concrete crisis.

Over 2,500 people have backed calls for the Department for Education to offer mitigating circumstances to pupils sitting their GCSEs and A-Levels at St Leonard’s Catholic School, Durham.

Durham City MP Mary Kelly Foy is returning to the House of Commons after a period of convalescence following a cancer operation to hand in the public petition on Tuesday.

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The Department for Education has, so far, refused to offer mitigating circumstances to pupils who have been affected by the RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) crisis, which seriously disrupted their education, and impacted their mental health, when St Leonard’s was forced to close ahead of the autumn term last year.

Pupils were initially forced into remote learning, where they had no access to their classrooms or coursework.

When alternative teaching spaces were found, they were inefficient: noisy, overcrowded venues with inadequate provisions.

Ms Kelly Foy said: “Pupils at St Leonard’s didn’t cause the RAAC-crisis, but they are paying the consequences

“Right now, their futures hang in the balance. They are anxious that the disruption to their education will impact their exam results and their future prospects. They feel like the government has forgotten about them.

“Despite months of indifference, ministers have one last chance to do the right thing and finally offer the pupils the mitigating circumstances they desperately deserve.”

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The MP has brought government ministers to St Leonard’s school so they can see the impact of RAAC for themselves.

Ministers have also met with parents and teachers and the issue has been raised the issue on the floor of the House of Commons on numerous occasions.

Throughout the RAAC crisis, Mary Kelly Foy MP has insisted that pupils sitting their GCSEs and A-Levels this year are given mitigating circumstances. Families have reported that their children received conditional university offers which did not take into consideration the impact that RAAC has truly had on their education.

Ms Kelly Foy has written Universities UK, and working with the University College Union (UCU), in order to highlight the issue with university’s admission offices.

She said the submission of the petition is the ‘last roll of the dice’ using parliamentary mechanisms.

The Northern Echo:

The petition states: “The Department for Education is not doing enough to mitigate the anxieties and stress of the parents, pupils and teachers at St Leonard's Catholic School in City of Durham following on from the disruption caused by RAAC; further declares that pupils at St. Leonard's Catholic School have not been offered mitigating circumstances for the disruption to their education caused by RAAC.

“The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to bring forward legislation to ensure that the Secretary of State for Education can provide the pupils at St Leonard's Catholic School mitigating circumstances for their exams this year, and all those who suffer similar circumstances.”

The Department for Education said it has worked closely with the school to provide spaces for learning and to put extra educational provision in place, as well as ensuring it has all the spaces needed for this academic year.

A spokesperson said: "In just a matter of months we have completed our identification programme and announced funding to remove RAAC from our schools and colleges for good including St Leonards.

“We have been working at pace with schools and colleges to support them to minimise disruption to pupils’ education. Each RAAC case is unique and schools and colleges each had a bespoke plan in place based on their individual circumstances.

“Alongside Ofqual we have asked awarding organisations to agree longer extensions for coursework and non-examined assessment.

"Where non-exam assessments like practical coursework have been impacted, schools may apply for special consideration.”