Two schools forced to shut after concrete falls from ceiling

Grasmere Academy is one of the schools that has switched to remote learning as was done during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic (Picture: Google Maps)

Safety fears have forced education bosses to close two schools and partially shut two more after concrete fell from a ceiling.

However none of the four school incidents are believed to be related to the use of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

More than 200 other schools in England have been hit by the use of the controversial material which can easily crumble.

But North Tyneside Council said concerns about Fordley and Hazlewood Primary Schools, Churchill Community College and Grasmere Academy were not of the same nature.

The council said a ‘small piece of concrete’ fell overnight in the IT suite at Fordley Primary School in December.

That led to safety inspections in other local schools and now Fordley and Churchill have closed for some year groups, while Grasmere and Hazlewood have switched to remote learning.

Churchill Community College has partially closed for some pupils (Picture: Google Maps)

Parents of pupils at Hazelwood Primary School have also been told of safety fears by education bosses(Picture: Google Maps)

North Tyneside Council’s director of resources Jon Ritchie, said: ‘Thorough building inspections are taking place by structural engineers, in consultation with department for education engineers.

‘Until the full findings of these detailed investigations are known, decisions have been made by the schools, with the support of North Tyneside Council, to close the parts of the buildings where inspections are needed.

‘Where early inspections have revealed concerns, decisions have also been taken in conjunction with the schools for either whole-school, or partial-school, closures.

‘We have worked with these schools to quickly investigate and put in place measures to reduce the risk to the school communities.

The closures come after a ‘small piece of concrete’ fell overnight in the IT suite at Fordley Primary School in December (Picture: Google Maps)

‘Keeping children safe and educated is an absolute priority for us. School closures are always a last resort but our position is clear – we must do everything we can to ensure everyone is safe while at school.

‘I’d like to reassure everyone that these structural issues are not related to RAAC and we are working alongside the department for education’s complex projects team to find solutions.’

Labour’s shadow schools minister Catherine McKinnell said: ‘Yet again the Conservatives are allowing children’s education to be disrupted by worrying safety issues with school buildings, with teachers and parents also facing yet more anxiety and disruption.

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‘Ministers must urgently get a grip, clarify the extent of these problems on top of RAAC, and explain what action they will take, with clear timescales, to ensure all students can get back into the classroom.

‘After over a decade of neglect, this crisis is another example of a Conservative government that simply does not prioritise children or their education.’

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