Collapsed ceiling at North Tyneside primary school leads to classroom closures at four schools. A construction issue came to light when part of the ceiling fell in at Fordley Primary School in Annitsford, North Tyneside, on December 20 last year. It led to North Tyneside Council checking whether any other schools in area had similar construction methods.
Hazelwood Primary School in Wideopen, Churchill Community College in Wallsend and Grasmere Academy in Killingworth have also been closed or partially closed while further inspections are carried out.
The MSN news service and Chronicile Live reported that around 1,700 children in North Tyneside have now been impacted by classroom closures and around half of them are learning remotely. Some pupils are being taught at home while others have been moved to other schools.
The local authority said the issue is not related to Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). North Tyneside Council’s Director of Resources, Jon Ritchie, said: “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.”
Year 4 and Year 5 pupils at Fordley Primary School have been moved to Greenfields Primary in Wideopen while Year 6 students are being taught at North Gosforth Academy in Seaton Burn.
Hazlewood Primary School has been closed all together and all students are being taught remotely. Plans to move to partial closure to allow for some face-to-face learning are being worked on.
At Churchill Community College, Year 7, 8 and 9 students are in school on rotation. Students who are in year 10, 11, 12 and 13 have remained at school. Headteacher Mr Paul Johnson said in a newsletter, released on Friday, that many students were unable to be in school and were having to learn remotely.
Grasmere Academy initially closed the whole school and all pupils were taught remotely from home. They have now made the decision to teach two-year-olds, nursery, reception and year 6 students in their single storey buildings.
The rest of the pupils at the school, which include Year 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, will continue to learn from home.
In a letter, which they sent out on Friday, the school said: “Over the last week we have been working with North Tyneside Council and structural engineers to investigate areas of concern within the two-storey building at Grasmere Academy.
“On discovering this, we took immediate action to close the school. Initial sight inspections have been held this week, which have confirmed that the building needs a further in-depth structural survey. I can reassure you however that the rest of the school building is safe (any area that is single storey).”
Mr Ritchie said the council became aware of a construction issue at a primary school just before Christmas. He said that, following this, they proactively investigated whether any other schools in the Borough may have had similar construction methods in any areas of their buildings, as a precautionary measure.
Mr Ritchie said: “Further schools were identified, and preliminary inspections showed further investigations were required at three of these schools: Churchill Community College, Hazlewood Primary School and Grasmere Academy. 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. Individual schools have assessed which students/year groups are to move to remote learning.
“We have worked with these schools to quickly investigate and put in place measures to reduce the risk to the school communities. We would like to thank pupils and their families at the impacted schools for their understanding and patience as we worked with schools to check and investigate building structures.
“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.”