South Tyneside Council working with Hebburn school which was forced to close over RAAC
South Tyneside Council has confirmed it is supporting St James Catholic Primary School after it was forced to close ahead of the new academic year.
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RAAC is a lightweight material that was mostly used in flat roofing, but also in walls and floors, between the 1950s and that 1990s.
The material is a cheaper alternative to standard concrete as it is quicker to produce and easier to install; however, it is less durable and only has a life span of around 30 years.
As a result, issues have been raised over safety in schools where the material has been used, with the affected buildings being labelled as “potentially dangerous”.
The school confirmed to parents in a letter from the headteacher, Francesca Heslop, on September 2 that it would not be reopening on Tuesday, September 5.
Mrs Heslop has confirmed that pupils will access education virtually at the start of this term while work is carried out to ensure the school can be made safe.
She said: “St. James Catholic Primary School, Hebburn’s school building is currently closed. Pupils will access education virtually on Tuesday and Wednesday while we finalise alternative arrangements.
“Please rest assured that we are working tirelessly behind the scenes to minimise disruption and to ensure that pupils continue to receive the best education.
“We are working on alternative arrangements for our pupils to be taught by our staff face-to-face in other Trust school premises locally.
“We are currently working on logistical arrangements and ensuring all the necessary health and safety and safeguarding checks are in place.
“The Department for Education will be supporting us throughout and will also be assisting with longer-term remediation measures so that we can bring all pupils back into school once we are fully confident it is safe to do so.
“The education and safety of our pupils and staff remains paramount. We would like to thank our pupils, parents and staff for their continued patience and support.
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Following the decision to close, South Tyneside Council has confirmed that it is working with the school to support them with reopening as soon as possible - all other schools in the borough are expected to open as planned.
A spokesperson for the Council said: “The safety and wellbeing of all our students and staff is our number one priority.
“Checks have been carried out on all council-maintained schools which indicate that they are not affected by RAAC.
“The only school which is affected is St James Catholic Primary in Hebburn which is part of an Academy Trust. We are working with the school to support them.
“We understand St James School will be closed from next week and parents should receive communication from the school about their contingency plans.
“All other schools will be open from next week and parents are encouraged to check their school website for details of when the new term starts.”