County Council supports St Bede school's temporary move
Wednesday, 12 February 2014
With no sign of flood waters subsiding in Winchester in the forseeable future, Hampshire County Council has been working closely with the head teacher and staff at St Bede Church of England Primary School to minimise the disruption to pupils' education.
Currently a proportion of the drains are full of flood water and unable to take waste water away from the school. Furthermore, much of the school playground is submerged under water. This means that not only are some of the toilet facilities out of use, there is no opportunity for the children to go outside safely.
Arrangements are being made for around 330 children from St Bede's to relocate to temporary classrooms that will be constructed on the Henry Beaufort Secondary School site in Winchester. This will accommodate children from Reception through to Year 4 (age 4 to 9 years). The remaining 110 pupils in Years 5 and 6 (10 and 11 years) can remain at St Bede's because of the temporary sanitary facilities in place.
Work is underway to ensure this provision is in place for a phased return, with the St Bede's school building opening for Year 6 pupils on Thursday 13 February and to both Years 5 and 6 on 24 February after the half term holiday. It is anticipated that the temporary accommodation at Henry Beaufort school will be available for Year R to Year 4 children from 3 March. In the meantime, The Westgate School will be providing temporary accommodation for Year 3 and 4 pupils for Thursday 13 and Friday 14 February and for the week beginning 24 February.
The County Council will seek to provide transport to carry the children from St Bede's to Henry Beaufort each morning, returning them at the end of the school day. In the interest of safeguarding children, the timings for morning drop offs and afternoon pick-ups will be co-ordinated to take place after arrival and departure times for the secondary students at that site.
Councillor Peter Edgar, Executive Member for Education at Hampshire County Council, said: "After keeping a close eye on developments at the school and providing constant support and advice, the County Council's Children's Services team has worked swiftly with colleagues in Property Services to help the school find a way to keep the interruption to the children's education as short as possible. The Headteacher Louise Fitzpatrick, and her staff, have been working extremely hard in difficult circumstances and are to be commended for their commitment and resolve. Thanks must also go Sue Hearle, Henry Beaufort's Headteacher, for her co-operation and ready agreement to our request to site the temporary classrooms for St Bede's at her school."
He added: "I fully appreciate that there are other schools in the county that have been affected by flooding and we are providing them with our support where it is needed."
Louise Fitzpatrick commented: "I am very grateful to the County Council and Henry Beaufort School in coming to our aid, and also to The Westgate School for contacting me to offer temporary accommodation for our Year 3 and 4 pupils until the classrooms at Henry Beaufort are ready. Clearly, my priority is to maintain the children's education with as little interruption as possible while ensuring their health and well-being. I am grateful to the staff and parents who have been so supportive during this challenging time. Over the next couple of weeks, staff who would normally be teaching Years R, 1 and 2 will be devoting their time to sorting out all the resources and moves that will be needed to relocate to our temporary accommodation so that we can get on with what we do best - teaching the children."
Following the floods in 2000, Hampshire County Council invested around £2 million to refurbish St Bede school and, in particular, raise the floor level sufficiently to protect the building from future flood damage. In spite of the unprecendented volumes of rain fall, rising ground water and river levels, the school buildings continue to remain dry. This means that as soon as flood water recedes, preparations can be made to return to the school building.