Parents at concrete crisis school to urge minister to back rebuild plans

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Parents of pupils at a leading secondary school which has largely had to shut due to the reinforced concrete crisis, will tell an education minister on Wednesday that it must be rebuilt.

St Leonard’s Catholic School in Durham, which has 1,400 pupils, is regularly among the top-performing state schools at GCSE in the North East.

But reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) has been found in buildings across the site, meaning children in most year groups have had to be taught online for four days a week since term started.

Earlier this week Claire Kelly, the parent of a boy in year 10, said he had only had four days in school since the start of term and added: “This is not the education our children deserve.”

Schools minister Baroness Barran, who has responsibility for schools capital projects, is visiting the school on Wednesday.

Parents will gather outside the school to welcome her and to get the message across that the school should be rehoused while the rebuild process is urgently undertaken.

The Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust which runs the school said the minister’s visit was “in a supportive capacity to better understand the challenges being faced and how we can ensure our students get back to receiving the high levels of teaching we pride ourselves on”.

The trust has also asked if it can use centre assessed grades (CAG) for GCSE and A-level pupils, which happened across the country during the pandemic, using students’ previous work to judge their abilities.

It has approached the Parliamentary Education Select Committee for assurances that if they were permitted to use CAG “for the duration of this upheaval” that pupils would not be disadvantaged when applying for university or jobs.

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