With exam results only around the corner from the General Election, the Northern Echo Manifesto is asking parties to commit to exam mitigations for the County Durham school thought to be the “most affected” by the crumbling concrete crisis.

St Leonard’s, a catholic secondary school in Durham City was plunged into crisis in September when buildings were found to be riddled with crumbling reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

It was one of just two secondary schools in England forced to completely close due to the scandal.

Since the start of the academic year, students have been learning in temporary classrooms, there have been spells online teaching, and lessons missed due to RAAC.

Fears that the RAAC-induced chaos will cause pupils to miss university spots, receive lower grades and face greater stress and mental health woes are at a fever pitch.

The school’s leadership, parents, students and politicians have repeatedly called for exam mitigations for this year’s GCSE and A-level students, so far to no avail.

Durham City’s most recent MP, Mary Kelly Foy, has campaigned for special consideration for pupils, but in interviews Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has maintained that the decision not to intervene with results was the right choice.

As students sit national exams this summer, worries about pupil’s futures have reached a boiling point, and parents feel that the government has “failed our children” after being snubbed for grade dispensations despite over two terms of disruption.

Exacerbating issues, an “unforeseen failure” on the server used to store children’s coursework saw files lost and corrupted, leaving students with only days to redo work and meet deadlines.

The school says it was unable to directly rectify the server issue because of where IT equipment was housed in a part of the campus affected by RAAC.

Though a school rebuild has been fast-tracked, and temporary classrooms opened on the school’s sports grounds, parents have said this will do little for this year’s exam cohort.

In February, a report by education experts found that a boost as big as 10 per cent could be owed to students.

Earlier this year, Nicola Cook told The Northern Echo that her son, who has special educational needs, is “galloping towards his A-levels” with “no sign of support” from the government.

It has been "very challenging" to find a university that meets his requirements - but having settled on a course at York, the family are now faced with "heartbreak", as a disrupted final year could mean he does not meet his offer requirements. 

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In meetings with politicians, the education trust’s chief executive, Nick Hurn OBE, said that school leadership had “catalogued the relentless nature of the disruption that has occurred for all of our children but particularly those taking exams this summer, since September 2023.

"We argued that anyone who claimed with any objectivity that this has not had a negative impact on the exam chances of the students at the school is refusing to accept the facts."

Education ministers in the last government emphasised they were "sympathetic" to the situation at St Leonard's, they said that the current exam framework and regulations prevented any possible intervention by the Secretary of State without a change to the law.