RAYLEIGH and Wickford MP Mark Francois has said “lessons do need to be learnt” by the government over how it handled the concrete crisis that affected 200 schools in England.

Around a third of schools in Essex were affected by the discovery of dangerous crumbling concrete, including Hockley Primary School, in Chevening Gardens, which is run by the Academies Enterprise Trust.

It was ordered to shut in June by the Department for Education (DfE) after the discovery of reinforced autoclaved concrete, commonly known as Raac, was found in the ceiling - sparking safety concerns.

The Trust announced last Wednesday that everyone will be welcomed back to the school on Tuesday, December 5.

Now, the cross-party public accounts committee found there was a lack of basic information to address the issues, of which the Conservative politician sits on.

He told BBC Radio Essex’s Sonia Watson: “Officials at the DfE were taking a very long time to come up with decisions based upon head teachers, staff, parents and pupils can plan.

“All that said, the situation is now improving and in the case of Hockley Primary, there have been frustrating delays, but these new relocatable classrooms are now there, and more are going to arrive in the next few weeks.

“AET did wonders by allowing the pupils of Hockley to be given face-to-face education at other local schools, so that’s Greensward Academy, Plumberow and Westerings.

“So, we managed to keep all of the pupils in face-to-face education and with a bit of luck and tailwind, all of those children will now be back at Hockley Primary in those new classrooms by the new year.

“Some of them, hopefully, within the next couple of weeks.

“The school has done brilliantly and so have the AET and have Essex County Council, but lessons do need to be learnt from this, particularly about how slow the DfE were to react.”