IT could take “months” for the Colchester schools worst affected by the Raac concrete crisis to return to normality, a county councillor has revealed.

Three secondary schools in the borough – The Gilberd, Thomas Lord Audley, and Thurstable – have remained fully or partly closed to pupils this week after concerns were raised about collapse-risk reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) in their buildings.

Asked how long it will take for the worst affected schools to return to face-to-face learning, Essex County Council’s education boss Tony Ball told the BBC he didn’t foresee a quick resolution.

'It could take some months'

He said: “I think it’s fair to say hundreds [of schoolchildren] will be impacted. It will mean different things for different schools but there’s no doubt that the impact could be for some months.”

Gazette: Affected - The Gilberd School in ColchesterAffected - The Gilberd School in Colchester (Image: Newsquest)

The statement came after it was revealed the Government pulled building projects from the three schools in 2010.

Dave Harris, whose grandchildren are Thomas Lord Audley pupils, said he was “appalled and offended” the school had been left unrepaired.

The county councillor and former school governor added: “Work should have been and could have been done had it not been for austerity budget cuts.

“What price can you put on our children’s lives and teachers’ safety?”

'Labour's programme was undeliverable'

Harwich and North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin defended the Government’s position, claiming Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme was “undeliverable”.

Gazette: Defending - Harwich and North Essex MP Sir Bernard JenkinDefending - Harwich and North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin (Image: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament)

He told the Gazette: “The Government acted as soon as it realised the distinction surveyors were making between critical and low risk.

“A ceiling collapsed in August after being deemed low risk. It’s impossible to assess the risk of Raac.

“The crisis has been handled very competently by Essex County Council and Labour has not criticised the Secretary of State for taking the decisions she took [to close schools] last week.”

The Tory MP added he’s been “privately assured money will be there for a rebuild” of Mistley Norman Primary School, which closed earlier this year after Raac was found in its buildings, though it’s unlikely to be constructed this year.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan met Essex MPs to discuss the crisis after visiting a school in Ingatestone today.