Ceiling collapse sparks wider school closures

The collapse of a ceiling at a primary school has sparked disruption at a number of schools in north east England.

Hundreds of pupils are being affected by classroom closures while "urgent structural checks" are carried out across North Tyneside.

Some students are being taught at home as fears spread following the collapse at Annitsford's Fordley Primary.

At least three other schools have identified similar issues, leading to partial closures.

North Tyneside Council said the issue is not related to problems with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) which have affected buildings nationwide.

Welcome sign at Fordley Community Primary School
A ceiling collapse at Fordley Community Primary School sparked fears of a repeat

The collapse at Fordley in December led to schools of a similar age, design and building history being checked for issues.

Issues were uncovered at Wallsend's Churchill Community College, Grasmere Academy in Killingworth and Hazlewood Community Primary School in Wideopen.

The council's director of resources Jon Ritchie called the closures "a precautionary measure".

He added: “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."

Home learning

Parts of Churchill Community College were closed following an inspection last week.

Head Paul Johnson said most pupils are now learning remotely, with years 10 to 13 studying in an unaffected part of the school.

Stephane Bommel, head at Hazlewood Primary School, said all of its students have been moved to remote learning, adding that staff are working to ensure children still receive the "best education possible from home".

Councillor Steven Phillips, North Tyneside's cabinet member for inclusion, employment and skills, said measures were put in place quickly to reduce the risk to the school community while "thorough" structural building inspections take place.

He added: "Our position is clear - we must do everything we can to ensure everyone is safe while at school.

"We are now working alongside the Department for Education (DfE) and the school leaders to minimise the impact on the school community as much as possible.”

The DfE has reportedly been made aware of the wider implications of structural problems at similar schools across the country.

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