North East councils survey schools after structural concerns cause disruption for pupils

Four schools on North Tyneside have been closed or partially closed to allow for structural inspections. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A number of councils in the region are making inquiries after four schools on North Tyneside had to close or partially close to allow structural checks to be made.

At the end of December a construction issue came to light when a ceiling collapsed at Fordley Primary School, in Annitsford.

It led North Tyneside Council to check whether other schools had undergone similar construction methods, resulting in the closure or partial closure of Hazelwood Primary School, Churchill Community College and Grasmere Academy.

About 1,700 pupils are affected, with some children being taught at home, while others have been moved to other schools while building inspections take place in consultation with Department for Education engineers.

The issue is not related to Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC).

The Department for Education said it is in close contact with the North Tyneside Council as investigations take place and will support them to minimise any disruption to education.

Some local authorities elsewhere in the region are now inspecting their own stock of school buildings.

This is what the North East's councils told ITV Tyne Tees on Wednesday 14 February about whether and how they were affected.


A Darlington Borough Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the issues at North Tyneside schools and have carried out a review of the recent structural surveys undertaken on our maintained schools.

"Those surveys indicated that the majority of the roofs at our maintained schools are of timber or steel construction, with the exception of some small areas, such as boiler rooms which are single concrete slab construction.

"The reports did not indicate that any of our schools’ roofs used a similar construction method to that found in the North Tyneside schools.”


Middlesbrough Council said it was not aware of any issues locally and said no new investigations are being carried out beyond routine inspections, which are carried out as a matter of course.


The council is working with specialist technical colleagues to see if there are issues at any of its schools.

A Newcastle City Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the reported issues regarding a small number of school buildings in other local authority areas and are working with specialist technical colleagues to identify if there may be similar concerns in Newcastle.”

North Tyneside

Investigations are continuing. It is hoped a report on Fordley Primary School, where the issue began, will be completed by the end of the week. This could dictate the next steps.

Hazelwood Primary School is completely closed at the moment while Grasmere Academy and Churchill Community College are partially closed. Fordley Primary School is open, but some pupils are being taught elsewhere at present.


Northumberland County Council is surveying schools to see if action needs to be taken.

A spokesperson said: "We are aware of the parameters for the buildings which have been affected. No schools are closed but we will be surveying those that fall within scope to see what, if any action, needs to be taken going forward."

South Tyneside

A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said the authority was not aware of any schools in the borough which are closed or partially closed due to structural issues.

They said: "No issues were raised during our inspections carried out last year.

"However, we are reviewing the information from North Tyneside and will then identify if we have any schools with similar design/age that we may need to check again. "


Sunderland City Council said it has an inspections programme of the schools that it oversees and helps maintain. It is not currently aware of any structural issues that would lead to classroom or school closures.

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