04 September 2023

Parents’ relief as children return to school despite ongoing concrete issues

04 September 2023

Parents have spoken of their relief at their children being able to go to school despite ongoing issues around reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac).

Thousands of children nationwide returned to school on Monday despite structural problems at hundreds of schools across the country.

Staff have been singled out for praise after some schools were forced to partially or wholly close just days before the start of term and find alternative solutions.

At Crossflatts Primary School in Bingley, West Yorkshire, older pupils are facing the start of term in temporary buildings or being taught in the hall, and yellow temporary buildings can be seen around the main school building.

Father Mohammad Ali said it is a relief that all the children are back and being taught on the same site despite the issues, with many parents praising head Nicola Bennett for her “sterling work” in keeping them informed ahead of the start of term.

Mr Ali said: “We’re happy because the kids are very happy and have been looking forward to coming back to school after six weeks.

“The school has told us all the problems and has kept us informed.”

He added: “We had a hard time in Covid because the kids were at home for two years – so this is not a big issue yet because they’ve solved the problems.”

One mother, who did not want to be identified, said: “They’ve just closed down sections and are using Portakabins, and they’re using the hall too.

“We’re as happy as we can be with the situation. It’s not the school’s fault and it’s just a relief that they’re back in.”

She (the head) has definitely worked for the benefit of kids and the community.

Daniel Petty, whose daughter started Year 3 at Crossflatts on Monday, said: “She (the head) has definitely worked for the benefit of kids and the community.

“I can’t fault her for that at all. If we needed anything, she’s certainly done everything she can to acquire what’s needed, especially in this instance.

“The news did come quite late in the day so she’s done really well to secure the funding for the outside classrooms and to make sure that none of the kids have been sent to different schools.

“She’s done a sterling job.”

Mr Petty added: “Obviously it’s quite shocking news to get so late in the six-week holidays. But now we know that they’re back in, the school has been fantastic.

“They really have made the effort to make sure the kids are undisrupted and back to normal for the new school term.”

Meanwhile, at Mayflower Primary in Leicester, Key Stage 2 pupils are having to be bussed to an alternative site elsewhere in the city as the school remains partially closed due to Raac issues.

I was lucky, there were four sites used before the summer holidays and one parent had three kids to drop off at three different sites

But this is an improvement on the end of the last academic year, when pupils were spread across four sites including a community hall and a mosque after the school was forced to close on April 20.

Jamila Adam, whose nine-year-old twins attend the school, said: “I was lucky, there were four sites used before the summer holidays and one parent had three kids to drop off at three different sites.

“The children are meant to be dropped off at 3.15pm but by the time they get loaded on to the buses and get back, it is 3.45pm, which has a knock-on effect as we have to rush home, get ready quickly and then go to the mosque.

“As most of the children who attend are Muslim, they also have to rush to get to the mosque on time.

“The kids have been OK with it, surprisingly. The fact they go on the buses with their friends makes it like a school trip for them.

“The staff deserve a medal, they have been great with it and always want to look after the children.”

Amreen Sheikh, who has a seven-year-old and a nine-year-old at the school, said: “It was a bit of a headache before, for us and for the children.

“We were struggling because everything was new, the kids were used to being in school. Now we are used to it.

“The kids are fine now but before they found it difficult because they used to get travel sick.

“The staff have been good, the teachers always help us and look after the children.

“I think this whole year could be the same, but I’m not worried.”

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