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Vice Chancellor Karen O'Brien with the headteacher and pupils of St Leonard's Catholic School in Ushaw Chapel

We’re helping out a local school that has had to temporarily close some of its facilities.

The challenge facing St Leonard’s

St Leonard’s Catholic School, in Durham, is one of more than 200 schools across the UK affected by reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) having been identified as being used in construction.

Raac is potentially unsafe, and it was discovered in St Leonard’s school buildings just before the start of the new academic term in September.

Since then, the school has been operating a reduced capacity and has been holding some lessons online.

How we’re helping

We stepped in to offer free use of some of our facilities, at Ushaw, and now around 480 St Leonard’s School pupils are temporarily being taught at the former Catholic seminary, which is just outside Durham.

Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Karen O’Brien, went to meet some of the pupils and talk to them about learning at Ushaw.

The Vice-Chancellor also met the headteacher of St Leonard’s Catholic School, Chris Hammill, and Nick Hurn, Chief Executive of the Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust which governs the school.

Professor O’Brien said: “As a University we are always open to working with local schools and colleges to help pupils thrive and reach their full academic potential.

“When we heard about the situation at St Leonard’s we were happy to help and support the school.

“It is lovely to see our facilities at Ushaw brought to life with their year seven and eight pupils.

“We hope the pupils have a memorable, happy time there as well as achieving in their studies.”

A spokesman for the Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust said: “We are delighted that we have been so well-supported by Durham University and Ushaw to get the children back to face-to-face learning.”

Find out more

  • Read more about the Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust here.
  • Learn more about the rich history of Ushaw here.
  • Feeling inspired? Visit our course webpages to find out more about studying with us.