Luton school hopes to bring students back ‘before half term’ after concerns over ‘falling debris’

Students have been studying both in person and online while the issue is fixed
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A secondary school in Luton says it is “on course to bring students back before half term” after it was forced to close classrooms over a risk of falling debris.

Cracks appeared in plaster on some of the ceilings around Cardinal Newman Catholic School, on Warden Hill Road, at the end of last year. The risk of falling debris was a “major concern” for the school which decided to close toilets and classrooms in the affected areas.

But now, headteacher Andrew Bull says the remedial works should be completed before February half term.

Cardinal Newman Catholic School. Picture: Google MapsCardinal Newman Catholic School. Picture: Google Maps
Cardinal Newman Catholic School. Picture: Google Maps

In a statement, Mr Bull said: “Late last year, the school became aware of some cracks appearing in the plaster of some of our ceilings. A full structural report was immediately undertaken, and it became apparent that the type of material that was used in part of the construction of our building was deteriorating faster than would ordinarily be expected.

He stressed that the issue was not “linked to the aerated concrete (RAAC) that has been in the press of late”.

He continued: “The major concern was a risk of falling debris from the ceiling rather than structural collapse. This is why we have had to temporarily close toilets and classrooms across affected buildings.

“As a result of the closure of classrooms, we have not been able to have all of our students on site at the same time. We have been using a mixture of in person and online learning since the issue was first discovered to ensure that any disruption to learning was reduced as much as possible.”

The building works “progressed with pace and purpose” since the start of the new term and the school believes it should be “completed over the next few weeks”.

Mr Bull added: “The Department for Education has noted we have responded with speed and effectiveness and are on course to bring students back before half term.

“We will continue to work with the teams from the Diocese of Northampton and the Department for Education to determine that longer-term solution. The current remedial work ensures our building is safe and that all of our students can once again be together.”

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