Churchill Community College pupils return to remote learning due to issue with temporary classroom windows

Churchill Community College in North Tyneside.
Churchill Community College in North Tyneside. -Credit:Iain Buist/Newcastle Chronicle

Year 7 pupils at a Wallsend school have returned to remote learning after plans for alternative accommodation fell through due to unsuitable windows.

Around 200 pupils from Churchill Community College were initially going to use space in the Cobalt Exchange building for face-to-face learning after they could no longer occupy space at Monkseaton High School due to exams. However, an issue relating to windows at the Cobalt Exchange not being suitable for classroom use has meant this is not currently possible.

Year 7 students are unable to be educated on-site permanently at Churchill Community College over concerns about concrete ceiling blocks in two school blocks. The school has, however, accommodated PE and some maths lessons on campus.

The blocks are made from a weak concrete mix and used in a construction method which although common in the 1960s, at the time of the school’s construction, are no longer used now. A report on the school’s structural issue states that although individual blocks are at risk of collapse, there is no safety fear regarding the building overall or any significant collapse.

North Tyneside Council has apologised for the return to remote learning and has said it is looking to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Parents and carers were made aware of the issue last Friday.

Jon Ritchie, director of resources at North Tyneside Council, said: “In recent months we have worked tirelessly to keep children at Churchill, and other impacted schools, safe and in face-to-face learning, and we are disappointed to have not been able to deliver this for these pupils in the timescale we hoped.

“Temporarily using a business building allows us to maintain face-to-face learning, but adaptations must be made to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for pupils to use as an education site. This is a short-term measure during the exam period at Monkseaton High School, which meant that school could not offer the space it has over recent months and will do again from mid-June.

“One final issue was identified last week and unfortunately this has resulted in a move to remote learning. We apologise for the impact this has had on children and families and we are doing everything we can to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

North Tyneside Council has however come under fire from trade union GMB over the return to remote learning.

Craig Thompson, GMB activist, said: "This is becoming a farce. It is causing massive stress and anxiety for children, parents carers and staff. North Tyneside needs to get these children somewhere suitable to learn ASAP.”