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Newcastle primary school which closed suddenly for pupils’ safety announces temporary solution | #schoolsaftey


A Newcastle primary school which had to close suddenly due to structural issues last Monday has teamed up with other schools and community venues to allow face-to-face learning to continue.

On Monday, June 12, St John Vianney Catholic Primary School in West Denton shut its doors to pupils and staff following advice from the Department of Education (DfE) after a full site survey confirmed that Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) was found in the school ceiling panels. RAAC is not an immediate health risk but only has a useful service life of around 30 years.

Parents were informed that the school would temporarily close for health and safety reasons and to allow for further investigation into the issue. The school told ChronicleLive that pupils would be learning remotely while staff makes alternative arrangements for classroom learning.

Read more: A Wallsend primary school closed due to structural problems announces temporary solution

But now the school, which is part of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust, has teamed up with other schools and local community venues to allow face-to-face learning to continue.

A letter sent to parents from the school states: “Following visits from specialist surveyors we now have a clearer understanding of how we can plan for the rest of this term and are looking ahead to September 2023 onwards.

“We have been reassured that we will be able to make our school building fully safe within weeks. This means that the short-term plan is for all children to return to St John Vianney Catholic Primary School (SJV) before the end of the summer term.

“Further information about what remedial work has been undertaken will be explained to parents once it has been completed so that you can be assured, once reopened, our school will be fully safe.”

The school confirmed that Reception and Nursery classes will be taught in the nursery block and one of the reception classrooms, as these are part of a much newer extension to school and there is no RAAC present. For pupils in Year 1, 2 and 3 a rota will be in place for pupils to attend school and use the UKS2 Lindisfarne Block which is separate to school and has no RAAC.

The letter added: “We need to do this because we can only accommodate 120 pupils in this block at any one time so we have to rota the 180 pupils in the short term.”

The remaining year groups will be taught off site, with Year 4 and Year 5 educated in the Sixth form centre at Sacred Heart High School.

Both year groups will have their own classrooms at Sacred Heart High School and will be taught by their current class teachers, supported by staff from SJV who they are familiar with. Pupils will not be educated alongside the other children from these schools and transport for Year 4 and 5 will be provided to and from Sacred Heart High School from SJV.


Year 6 will be educated next door to SJV at West Denton Community Centre and will be registered and dismissed from SJV and then walked over by staff.

The letter to parents said: “We have been working closely with colleagues from across our Trust (Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust) to develop a short-term plan to provide our children with face-to-face learning for the next few weeks whilst we wait for our school building to be fully open. By working with other schools within our Trust, and local venues, we are in a position to ensure that all educational venues offered to our pupils follow the same policies and guidance around areas such as health and safety, safeguarding and risk assessment processes.

“To help with your planning, we know that these arrangements will be in place until at least Friday 30th June.”


It added: “Whilst we have worked hard to ensure that questions are answered and plans are robust, we have responded to an emergency situation and acknowledge that there may be some teething issues that arise.

“We appreciate that all these changes are unexpected. However, we would like to reassure parents that this is the quickest and best temporary solution which allows for children to be educated face-to-face and keeps children with their own teachers and their friends.”

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