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‘Nightmare’ for Essex mother of four as three children affected by Raac schools crisis

More than 100 schools across the UK have had to partially or fully shut (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)
More than 100 schools across the UK have had to partially or fully shut (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

A mother of four has said it has been a “nightmare” as the concrete crisis has disrupted the schools attended by three of her children.

Safety concerns over reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) have caused more than 100 schools to partially or fully shut across the UK.

Sally Walsh, 44, from Buckhurst Hill, Essex, said she is facing a “horrendous situation” as her 12-year-old, attending Roding Valley High School, and two other children, nine and six, attending Buckhurst Hill Primary School, will experience learning disruptions.

Her two-year-old child is also starting preschool this week, adding to the challenges she is facing.

The community are really rallying around, we're immediately getting offered with help to take my children to school. But I'm still finding it upsetting because they're my kids, I don't want someone else to take them to school

Parent Sally Walsh

Ms Walsh’s 12-year-old has been instructed not to attend Roding Valley School this week – she said half the school is “unusable” and she “does not know” exactly what is happening.

She said her nine-year-old was “heartbroken” to learn that his class, along with three others, would have to attend a different school, White Bridge Primary School, 0.8 miles away from Buckhurst Hill Primary.

Ms Walsh added that her six-year-old will stay at Buckhurst Hill Primary, but will be taught either in a “staff room, library or school hall”.

She told the PA news agency: “It’s a nightmare, I’m going to have three kids in three different schools plus the little one starting preschool this week.

“The community are really rallying around, we’re immediately getting offered with help to take my children to school.

“But I’m still finding it upsetting because they’re my kids, I don’t want someone else to take them to school.”

She added: “My son who’s going to a different school was heartbroken when he found out last night.

“You know he doesn’t even know the school, it’s completely alien to him, and it’s hard when we can’t put a time frame on it.

Why is this not being turned around quicker... right now this needs to be treated with more urgency than it seems to be

Parent Sally Walsh

“I can’t say ‘For this many weeks you’ve got to do it and then it’ll be fine’.”

Ms Walsh expressed “sympathy” for Buckhurst Hill Primary.

“The school have been incredible, my main sympathy lies with the school and the head, I feel so sorry for them,” she said.

“They said themselves (the teachers) this is an absolute last resort, this is the last thing that they wanted to do.

“There’s just nowhere else to put these kids, their hands are tied, so I’ve got nothing but admiration and gratitude for the school in terms of how they’re dealing with a horrendous situation.

“I just hope they’re getting the support that they deserve or need and I’m not confident that they are, to be honest.”

She added that Education Secretary Gillian Keegan needs to treat the Raac crisis as an “emergency”.

Ms Walsh said: “This needs to be treated as an emergency… there’s extreme disruption.

“I’m taking three kids to different schools and they’re talking about a time frame of six weeks to get new portable classrooms.

“Why is this not being turned around quicker… right now this needs to be treated with more urgency than it seems to be, and more support for the schools financially.”