Pupils inspect RAAC affected schools – due to reopen soon

Apr 30, 2024

Pupils from two Bishop Chadwick primary schools don their hard hats and hi-vis!

PUPILS became health and safety inspectors for a day, when they went to visit their schools, which were closed in September due to emergency remediation works being required.

St James Catholic Primary School in Hebburn and St John Bosco Primary School in Sunderland were both closed when the government announced schools where RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) was present would need to close for inspections and remediation work.

The trust quickly made provisions for face to face or virtual learning to continue and after the closures. Both schools were supported by other schools in the trust and their wider communities. Nuns at the Sunderland Sisters of Mercy offered up Gabriel House, an empty part of their convent, for teaching purposes for St John Bosco. St James was supported by the local parish, who provided the Emmaus centre.

This week, pupils of St John Bosco and St James schools donned hard hats, ear defenders and high-vis jackets as they went to inspect the work being conducted at their school sites.

The St James pupils were accompanied by their headteacher Francesca Heslop who said the children were checking in on the progress being made by Terry and the gang of Baines Construction NE Ltd!

“The children were absolutely delighted that school is almost ready for our school community to return and gave Terry and the team a big thumbs up,” said Mrs Heslop.

St James is hoping to reopen its doors to pupils properly in June – and the community is very much looking forward to having all the staff and pupils together on site again.

Mrs Heslop said: “St James is looking absolutely fantastic.

“I’m so excited that we’ll all be back together soon.

“Terry and his team have been absolutely amazing, and we can’t thank them enough for all their hard work.”

Mrs Peart, headteacher at St John Bosco also accompanied her school’s pupil ‘health and safety team’ on a site inspection.

She said: “It was brilliant – the children were really excited to be visiting their school.

“As we were going around, I asked them what they were really missing about being at St John Bosco and one of the little girls said: ‘having an assembly and playing on our field’.

Mrs Peart added pupils were accompanied by Mr Terry Baines from Baines Construction NE Ltd, who explained the way they work and gave them an insight into a day in the life of the staff on site.

Children told Mrs Peart they thought their school “looked different”.

Mrs Peart explained: “When everything’s complete and we are all back in school it will be like we’ve never been away.”

A date is yet to be set for the pupils’ return to St John Bosco following the remediation works.

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