Ellie Ames 24 August 2023

Three schools closed over safety concerns

Three schools closed over safety concerns image
Image: https://bucktonschool.org.uk

Three schools in England built by the same contractors have been advised not to reopen their buildings ahead of the new school year because of ‘structural irregularities’.

Haygrove Secondary School in Bridgwater, Somerset; Buckton Fields Primary School in Northampton and Sir Frederick Gibberd College in Harlow, Essex were all built by Caledonian Modular.

The Department for Education (DfE) said it had commissioned surveys into the buildings after defects were found in all three, and after two schools in Cornwall built by the same contractors had to be demolished before construction was completed.

‘There are numerous problems associated with poor workmanship which will impact the longevity of the buildings’, the department said.

Somerset Council’s lead member for children and families, Cllr Tessa Munt, said: ‘I am incredibly sympathetic to the challenges Haygrove School leaders are grappling with at the moment.

‘I know just how hard they are working to get answers - and the solutions they and the school community urgently need - from the DfE.

‘The school has the full support of Somerset Council and specialist officers from our education team are supporting the Academy Trust. We will provide whatever help we can in these extraordinary circumstances.’

An Essex County Council spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of the situation at Sir Frederick Gibberd College and have been working with the school and relevant agencies.

‘Temporary arrangements are currently being organised for the autumn term.’

The leader of West Northamptonshire Council, Cllr Jonathon Nunn, said Buckton Fields school was working to place pupils at another school site for the start of the new term.

He added: ‘We appreciate pupils and parents will find this unsettling and we are supporting the school and DfE as they work towards finding a solution as quickly as possible to ensure educational needs continue to be met whilst these building issues are being addressed.'

The DfE said it was reviewing its contracts to identify where Caledonian Modular, which went into administration in 2022, may have been involved.

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