Fulwood secondary school to remain shut until next week due to RAAC inspections

Posted on - 5th September, 2023 - 8:21pm | Author - | Posted in - Cadley, Education, Fulwood, Politics, Preston News, Schools
Our Lady's Catholic High School Pic: Google
Our Lady’s Catholic High School Pic: Google

One of two schools in Preston that delayed the start of the autumn term because of concerns over so-called ‘crumbly concrete’ is to stay shut for the rest of the week – and when it does reopen, will do so only partially at first.

Our Lady’s Catholic High in Fulwood advised parents and carers last Friday that it was keeping its gates closed at least on Monday and Tuesday this week after reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete – or RAAC – was discovered.

Families of the school’s 900 pupils were told that it was possible that the material – which can fail without warning when it reaches the end of its lifespan – could also have been used in other areas of the St. Anthony’s Drive site that had not yet been identified.

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In an update letter sent on Tuesday, headteacher Richard Charnock said that there were “large parts of the school site which have now been confirmed to be unaffected and safe to use”.

He added:  “However, school will remain closed for the remainder of the week to allow final safety checks and preparations for a phased safe return of pupils and staff.

“We will reopen the school for some year groups on Monday 11th September.  Further details will be shared with parents by Thursday.

“This is not the start to the academic year that we were planning for, or that you as parents were wanting, but the guidance from the government changed overnight and we must respond to that guidance.

“I would like to thank you for your continued understanding and support whilst we deal with this very challenging situation. I appreciate that this will already have caused disruption and upset, but please be assured that we are working very hard to bring our children back to school as soon as we can, and we are looking forward to seeing them and starting a great year together.”

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The government ordered 104 schools across England to close late last week after a change to the advice over the safety of RAAC.  Previously, the material had only been deemed unsafe once it had reached a ‘critical’ state, but that changed after the failure of a beam that had not been considered to be at that point.

It is unclear whether Our Lady’s is part of the national closure tally.  The school said that it was advised to close on Friday by the Diocese of Lancaster, which is the responsible body for the facility.

Nearby Fulwood Academy also closed as a precaution on Monday and Tuesday this week, but told its parents and carers on Tuesday afternoon that the school would be reopening as normal on Wednesday after getting the all-clear from a structural engineer who had carried out an additional survey.

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