THE schools worst affected by the crumbling concrete crisis should receive temporary structures to enable face-to-face learning by the end of term.

Essex County Council’s education boss Tony Ball told the BBC on Wednesday it could take “some months” for the hardest hit schools to see a return to face-to-face teaching.

But following a meeting with Essex MPs and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan on Thursday, Mr Ball has now issued more definitive timescales.

He said: “It is anticipated that by the October half-term, the position in terms of face-to-face learning will have greatly improved, with temporary accommodation having been put into place.”

Gazette: Meeting - county councillor Tony Ball met with Witham MP Dame Priti Patel, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, and Chelmsford MP Vicky Ford on ThursdayMeeting - county councillor Tony Ball met with Witham MP Dame Priti Patel, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, and Chelmsford MP Vicky Ford on Thursday (Image: Essex County Council)


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'Our children are suffering' - Concern as concrete issues plague Colchester schools

The county councillor added that the authority is working hard to link schools with companies able to supply temporary buildings.

Essex is thought to be worst affected county with more than 50 schools confirmed to be impacted by reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) – including 12 in Colchester and six in Tendring.

The leader of Colchester Council has called for action on the Raac crisis which has forced several schools in the city to turn away pupils – including The Gilberd, Thurstable, and Thomas Lord Audley.

Writing to Mr Ball and County Hall leader Kevin Bentley, David King said there is a “very understandable concern from parents” about collapse-prone Raac.

Mr King also called on the county council to press the Government to fulfil its promise to meet the costs of repairing the affected schools.

He said that budgets are squeezed and that further damage to school resources could be avoided if the Government provides the necessary funding.

He added: “We must resolve these issues as quickly as possible. After all of the loss of learning and disruption from the pandemic years, our children deserve better.”

Mr Ball said the Education Secretary had offered assurances that “required and reasonable” funding requests from affected schools “would be accommodated”.

The Gilberd School will re-open fully on Monday to Year 11 pupils only, while Year 7 pupils will be taught at the recently opened Trinity School in nearby Mile End.

Other year groups will be welcomed back to the Highwoods school on a rota basis.

Executive headteacher Linda Exley told parents: “Please rest assured we are doing everything in our power to return the school to some sense of normality as soon as possible.”