Uncertainty surrounds the future of a school in Abingdon with multiple buildings, following the discovery that RAAC is present.

John Mason School on Wootton Road has undergone a schedule reshuffle this week, with the site being closed entirely on Monday (September 11), and Year Groups from 7-13 being rotated between home study and in-school lessons.

The headteacher, Alastair West, released a letter to parents on Sunday (September 10) giving details of the school’s plans for lesson rotation up until Friday (September 15).

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Commenting on the school’s plans beyond that, Dr Fiona Hammans, Chief Executive Officer of the Abingdon Learning Trust, said: “At this stage, we can only be sure about this week, and we are working closely with the Department for Education on this.

“The first step is to undertake a full survey of exactly where RAAC exists in the school. Once we know this, we can then plan ‘phase two’.

“Phase two – if needed – could include temporary accommodation and a potential rebuild. But we can’t know until the survey is completed. We are working hard to secure an appropriately qualified and experienced surveyor.

“There are a number of buildings on the site of differing ages. There are some that have been built since RAAC stopped being used, so we can assume that these are safe, although we want to be absolutely sure, and the surveyor is key to this.”

Some parents and carers have expressed outrage at the closure and have questioned if any of the buildings are safe.

Becky Jones, from Abingdon, said: “How is it okay for some pupils to go in but not others? Surely if the building structure is unsafe it’s unsafe?

“All that school missed during Covid, and we’ve just had the summer holidays, could this not have been sorted out then?”

Ms Hammans confirmed that the school knows there are blocks that are safe on site, and it is using them, but others are closed currently.

One parent had spent £300 on a bus pass for the school, which is now unusable.

Ms Hammans said: “I can appreciate that parents are frustrated and angry about this, and I sympathise. But the safety of students and staff comes first, before everything else.

“At any time, now or in the future, if we had concerns about a school building’s safety, we would make the same decision.

“Once we have the surveyor’s report, we will update the school and wider community with the next steps.”

Larkmead School, also in Abingdon, made pupils in Year 8, 9 and 10 learn from home last week as it awaited the results of a survey into whether RAAC was present in the school.

However the school announced on last Friday (September 8) that a second site investigation by structural engineers found no RAAC.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1