All done … thank you!
I am sure everyone will be pleased to know that the hall refurbishment is now complete, new equipment has been installed in the hall and the PortaKabin has been removed from the school car park. We will have full use of the school hall and the contractors will have left the site when we return to school after the Easter holidays on Monday 20th April.
We would like to say a huge “thank you” to pupils, parents, staff and neighbours for your understanding and support during these last few months. We look forward to a summer term with relatively few challenges!
Spring Progress Report …. moving forward!
We just want to report that everything is ON TRACK for the hall to be handed back to us during the Easter holidays. All work in refurbishing the hall is on schedule, including the replacement of the hall floor, lighting, electrics, gym-equipment and re-plastering, decorating and final finishing. The scaffolding at the front of the building was removed on Friday 27th February which is great move forward. We have lived with this for six months. The plans are that the PortaKabin will be removed during the Easter holidays.
All is good, or at least getting there! Thanks for your continued support.
Spring Term Repair and Refurbishment Work
Work has now started to replace and repair the school hall roof. This will take approximately 6 weeks after which work can begin on the repair and refurbishment of the interior of the hall. This will include the replacement of the hall floor. We expect the whole project to be completed by April and for us to have full use of the hall when we return after the Easter holidays. In the meantime, the PortaKabin will remain on site and we will continue to use St Hilda’s Catholic Church for our Friday morning assemblies. All children have been reminded about their safety whilst on premises. This includes staying with parents at all times and NOT running up and down the ramp of the PortaKabin when entering or leaving the school grounds at the beginning and end of the day. Thank you for your continued support in keeping your children safe.
This is likely to be the only update for the Spring term unless we have news to suggest that the work will be behind schedule and our plans change. We are very much looking forward to getting back to normal after the Easter holidays.
Our temporary building was installed as planned on Tuesday 2nd December. We would like to thank parents who supported the school in keeping their cars away from Lingard and Bazley Roads on this day. We apologise to our neighbours for the disruption, particularly as the delivery project went beyond schedule by two hours due to the challenges of lifting the units in a small space and avoiding the lamp-post and telephone cable.
The unit is relatively large and takes up most of the car park. Safety is therefore important as parents and children access the premises and negotiate passage to/from the school gates. The units have been fitted with electricity, heating, lighting and safety systems and, at this stage, will be handed over to the school on Tuesday morning in readiness for the serving of hot school meals to the infant children on Tuesday lunchtime.
Work on replacing the school roof will begin in January. In the meantime, the hall has been protected from the weather. We are hoping that the scaffolding in the front of the building will be removed by the time we return in January as the contractors will be able to gain access to the roof via another route and no longer need this scaffolding for their safety. This will make life a little easier in terms of passage to and from the school office.
Our temporary building (to be located in the car park) will be arriving during the morning of Tuesday 2nd December. On this day, there will be access and parking restrictions on both Lingard Road and Bazley Road, supervised by the City Council and the police. Parents are asked not to drive down or park on these roads after 9.00am or park on Bazley Road at any time. The installation of a temporary building will present a number of safety hazards for the next few months. Please read the letter sent home on Friday 28th November and ensure that everyone is aware the guidance given in the letter, particularly about access to Bazley Road and parking. Of most importance is the supervision of the children when entering and leaving the school premises – children must stay with parents and not race or walk ahead. The building will be a tempting place for children to play and hide from parents.
We are planning to serve HOT school meals starting on Tuesday 9th December. On this day, hot meals will be served to our Early Years, Year 1 and Year 2 children only. On Wednesday 10th December, hot meals will be served to all children who normally have a school meal. Given some changes to meal arrangements since the fire, a letter will be sent home next week for parents to confirm their children’s meal arrangements from these dates.
Click here to view a copy of the letter sent home on Friday 28th November.
School Roof Replacement / School Meals
Progress in general has been somewhat slower than we might have expected at this stage as the City Council work behind the scenes to finalise plans for the replacement of the school hall roof and the installation of some temporary accomodation.
Plans are now being drawn up for the school roof to be replaced with a new roof rather than a temporary roof as first planned. This work is unlikely to start until January and will take up to 3 months to complete. We will, therefore, be without our school hall for most of the spring term.
At this stage, we are expecting our temporary accommodation to be installed during the week beginning 1st December. As soon as this facility is up and running, we will be introducing hot school meals again, phased over a few days. The installation of the temporary building (which will take up most of our car park) will require a road closure and other safety measures to be put in place. These are now being arranged through the City Council’s Highways department.
UPDATE and FUTURE ARRANGEMENTS
Work in School and Re-Opening on Monday 10th November
Planned weekend work in school has been completed ahead of schedule today with teams of people working to erect scaffolding in the hall so that work on installing a temporary roof can begin safely on Monday. Given that all classrooms have now been isolated and sealed from the hall, we will be reopening the school for all children on Monday morning. We will be offering all wrap-around care as normal. Unless I hear otherwise, this will be the final confirmation that school will be open on Monday. All parents will also be informed by text.
The weeks and months ahead are going to present significant challenges for everyone in school. Our school hall will be out of action for quite some time and this will affect the way in which we do many things, not least moving from one area of the building to another, particularly from the office area to classrooms. The children’s movements will be restricted to the rear of the building (classrooms and corridors) and any reasons for them to visit the office will be minimised. Children will be briefed on Monday morning about the situation and the new routines in place. It will take us a few days to get used to a new way of working, I am sure.
School meals will be served to all children from Monday. However, only sandwiches (and salad, dessert, biscuits, fruit and a drink) will be served (in classrooms) until we get our temporary accomodation on site next week or the week after that. If we can serve hot meals before that time, we will. We are waiting for portable serving trolleys to be delivered and have some concerns about the serving of hot food in classrooms. Parents who wish to provide a packed lunch from home can do so but we are aware of our obligation to provide free meals to all those who are entitled. Please note that only cold items (no soup) should be provided. We will determine who needs a school lunch on Monday morning.
Given the location of the school, there are difficulties in getting the temporary accomodation to us sooner rather than later as the Highways Department and Police will have to involved, including negotiating the removal of all cars from Lingard Road and Bazley Road for the delivery of the units.
We are asking for parents to support us in a number of ways …
The safety of all children, parents, staff and visitors whilst on site is our prime concern. The building is considered safe for use. It has been tested for air quality and working systems. There is still a slight smell of the aftermath of the fire, particularly in the Key Stage 1 corridor. This is much reduced since last weekend but will be particularly noticed by the children on Monday as they have not been on site. We are told that this is not dangerous and the smell will reduce over time.
The general environment will continue to be a building site for quite some time and all parents and children are asked to take extra care when on premises. This means ensuring that children stay with parents at all times and do not run ahead or play in the car park. In time, there will be temporary buildings and vehicles in the car park which will be a tempting play and hiding place for children. Parents are asked to be vigilant in the supervision of their children, keeping them close at all times, particularly when walking from the playground to the side gate (area running alongside Year 5 and Year 6 classrooms) towards the car park and when in the car park.
Year 3 Lessons
Given that Year 5 will be at Robinwood Monday-Wednesday of next week, it is planned that Year 3 will use the Year 5 classroom for those 3 days. This is simply to reduce potential noise disturbance from the hall when work hopefully starts on Monday.
Morning and After-School clubs will operate their normal hours from Monday. Parents are asked to ensure that they drop off their children to a member of staff at the side door. Children must not enter the car park unaccompanied nor be left alone in the car park before 8.00am. Our morning club starts at 8.00am and children must not be left waiting on their own before this time. Contractors have been given permission to deliver materials and prepare for works between 7.00am and 8.00am each morning. Children should not, therefore, be on premises before 8.00am. At this time, we are capping after-school places given the lack of space, not helped by the need to have everyone inside the building when it has gone dark.
Drop-off, Collection and Registration
Parents should ensure that children are dropped off at school safely and accompany children to the playground. A member of staff will be on duty at the front of the building each morning from 8.40am and again at the end of the day. Children MUST WALK with parents at all times. The side gates will be opened at 8.40am each morning and will remain open until 9.10am to allow children arriving just a few minutes late to enter via the side gates/playground rather than via the office. Registration will still close at 9.00am but late marks will be registered by class teachers up to 9.10am in classrooms rather than at the school office. Children arriving after 9.10am must report to the school office and may have to wait for a member of staff to accompany them safely to class.
All parents are asked to park away from Bazley Road at all times. This is very important and is a key way in which parents can support us. Parking and traffic management are going to be challenging enough, given the presence of contractors’ and delivery vehicles, without the added problem of managing parents driving into and manoeuvring cars on Bazley Road. We will be enforcing this by a polite written reminder to individual parents who choose not to support us and we have asked for the support of the police in this matter. They will be on site more often during the next few weeks and will intervene where necessary.
We will have no parking for staff in our car park for quite some time. We therefore ask parents to extend a courtesy to staff to enable them to park on Bazley Road if they can, given that they may have to carry children’s books and learning materials some distance in the rain. Most staff are parking away from Bazley Road. It is never particularly helpful when parents park and wait with their children some time before school starts simply to secure a convenient parking space on Bazley Road. Please support us with this matter. Parents must NOT park in the car park nor open the vehicle gates at any time. Please park away from school and walk with your child to school. Thank you.
Office and Payments
Parents are asked to minimise their time on site and at the school office. Office staff will be very busy and we have a schedule in place with contractors for when they can access the site safely. Contractors need to start work as soon as they can during the school day, given the lack of light in the late afternoon. The fewer additional people on site during the school day, the better. Parents are asked to pay dinner money and other things in advance, preferably via payment envelope (available in the foyer) or via ParentPay. Please telephone/e-mail the school office rather than call in person if you can. Our office staff will have little time in the coming weeks to engage in the social conversations we like to share with parents so please do not be offended if we cannot talk at length. Anyone needing to see a member of senior staff, including the Headteacher, at 9.00am may need to make an appointment, given the additional responsiblities of senior staff at this time. Again, thank you for your support.
Pupils Leaving/Arriving during the school day
It is going to be additional work for staff to arrange for children to move to and from their classrooms during the school day as all children must now be accompanied to the office via an outdoor route by a member of staff. Parents are therefore asked to minimise any disruption by ensuring that doctors and other appointments are planned outside of school hours where possible. We appreciate that hospital appointments cannot always be changed. Early collection from school before the end of the school day is to be avoided. Parents are asked to ensure that children have everything they need (packed lunches, musical instruments, PE kits, coats) at the start of every day. Any changes to pick-up arrangements need to be communicated to school well before the end of the school day.
PE Lessons and PE Kits
Given that the hall will be out of action for some time (February at least at this stage), this will affect the delivery of PE lessons. We are trying to arrange some indoor PE provision at the Manchester Health Academy (MHA) for some year groups. This will require transport to and from MHA on a weekly (but limited) basis. However, most PE lessons will take place at school outdoors, weather permitting. All children therefore need suitable PE kit for this – jogging/tracksuit bottoms, tracksuit or sweater top and training shoes (trainers rather than pumps) in order to do PE outdoors on a regular basis. Children can also wear a fleece if needed. PE kits need to be in school every day as we will have to take a flexible approach with our timetabling of PE lessons. PE lessons may take place on a different day to that planned so we can take advantage of good weather. Early Years children do not need an outdoor PE kit.
The planned extra-curricular activities will take place from next week. Football will have no indoor contingency and will therefore have to be cancelled if the weather is too poor to run the activity. Parents collecting children from extra-curricular activities are asked to wait outside the school entrance. Children will be accompanied to this point by a member of staff at 4.15pm. Unfortunately, we cannot accomodate parents waiting indoors.
Assemblies / Class Assemblies
Assemblies will obviously look a little different for a while. We are exploring the possibility of using St Hilda’s Catholic Church on Kenworthy Lane for a weekly assembly. The time at which we will be able to use this venue will depend on the church’s mass/event schedule. I am hoping to arrange some times by Monday. We will still present children with certificates each week. If these cannot be presented in an assembly, they will be presented to children in their classrooms. Unfortunately, we may not be able to accomodate parents at assemblies as we usually do. Class assemblies are yet to be confirmed.
As mentioned previously, the performance of Sleeping Beauty (visiting theatre company) will take place as planned next Friday (14th November). We will be walking the children to St Wilfrid’s CE Primary School immediately after registration. Anyone who can help accompany our younger children for this journey is asked to get in touch with our school office.
We are also planning to ask St Hilda’s Church if we can perform our Christmas plays and concerts in the church. This is to be confirmed. The school’s involvement in the Christie Christmas Concert (17th December at Gorton Monastery) will go ahead as planned.
Parents evenings will take place as planned on Tuesday 18th and Wednesday 19th November. Parents will have to access the building via the side gates or side door. Waiting areas will be arranged. Details will be shared by letter next week. We will only be able to offer a creche facility after 6.00pm on the Wednesday, given that we will have little additional space to do this and that the after-school club needs to operate as normal.
I will be writing to all parents with all of the above and more details on Monday.
Northenden Neighbourhood Forum (NNF)
There is a NNF meeting on Monday evening at the Cricket Club regarding school places in Northenden. Some parents have asked if this is connected to the school fire. It is not. It is a planned meeting regarding the need for more school places in Northenden as a whole.
And finally …
You can imagine how devastated we have all been since the fire and how hard we have worked during last weekend and last week to work with lots of people from a number of organisations to move us forward and get the building ready for use as soon as we could. We have also worked hard to think about all of the changes and challenges we now face. On behalf of Governors, Staff and myself, I want to thank everyone, particularly parents and staff, for their tremendous support and understanding during this time.
We look forward to seeing you all on Monday.
We had 90% of our Early Years children back on site today. Thank you for your support and to those parents who provided a packed lunch. We are sorry that we cannot have everyone back at the moment. I know some parents (and children for that matter) are finding this difficult. Hopefully, we will have everyone back together on Monday.
Now that forensic work is complete, contractors have been in school today to start clearing the hall. The plan is that scaffolding (for safety) will be erected in the hall during Thursday/Friday so that work installing a temporary roof can begin.
If we do return to school on Monday, we will only have sandwiches (and salad, cakes, fruit and a drink) available for those children who have a school lunch. These will be served and eaten in classrooms. We are hoping that plans for some temporary accomodation (to be located in our car park) for the serving of school meals will be finalised soon. Apart from the obvious changes to movement through the school, our main challenge will be the serving of school meals as we move forward. Once we have adequate and safe serving arrangements in place, we should be able to serve hot meals. Manchester Fayre, our catering service provider, are working hard to make this possible.
Please continue to look at our website for the latest news over the weekend. Some final decisions will be made on Sunday as whether or not all children will return on Monday. At this stage, we are hoping that this will be possible and everything is moving in the right direction to achieve that. We will confirm by text also on Sunday.
E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your continued patience and support. I would like to say a special “thank you” to two of our Year 4 children who have been raising money for the school during their time off!
We are still on track to open for Early Years children in the morning. We are aiming to open for all other children on Monday of next week.
Morning and After-School Club
We are able to offer morning club (from 8.00am onwards) and after-school club provision (3.00pm – 5.30pm) tomorrow and Friday for our Early Years children only. This will be in our Early Years unit rather than the usual room. Parents arriving for Morning Club must escort their children through the playground to the Early Years Unit. Parents collecting from after-school club should access the site via the side gate and proceed to Early Years via the playground. All parents are advised to take extra care when accessing the site, particularly when it is dark.
Please let Lana Leech-Martin (07806 425181) know at any time tomorrow if you require an after-school club place for Thursday and Friday and until what time.
It would be easier for the school if all children staying for lunch were provided with a packed lunch from home. However, we are aware of our obligation to provide a free lunch to reception children. Any child arriving at school without a lunch tomorrow, will be provided with a lunch from school. However, this will only be sandwiches which will be prepared and sent from another school. Please let our morning club or teaching staff know if your child requires a school lunch.
Morning-Only Nursery Children
Parents collecting children at 11.45am after the morning nursery session are asked to wait outside the main entrance of the school (we cannot accommodate parents waiting in the foyer as we do normally). The children will be accompanied to the car park by a member of staff. Parents collecting children from school at 3.00pm should do so as normal.
All parents are asked to PARK AWAY from the school and Bazley Road and to take extra care when accessing the premises.
Thank you for your continued support.
More progress has been made today with contractors on site preparing to begin work to erect a temporary roof. This work can start in earnest once the fire investigation teams from all interested parties have completed their work which should hopefully be tomorrow. It is planned that work will take place throughout the weekend, light and weather permitting.
Early Years Opening – Thursday 6th November
We have decided to allow our nursery and reception children only to return to school on Thursday of this week. Their building is self-contained and not affected by the fire. Whilst we appreciate this may not be ideal for some families (particularly with older siblings who will not be able to return), we want to offer some children, parents and staff a way forward sooner rather than later. We also feel that this will give us an opportunity to ‘phase’ the return of pupils to school and give us time to embed new routines and arrangements, of which there are many.
So, nursery and reception children may return to school on Thursday 6th November. However, parents will need to provide a packed lunch for their children (including all children entitled to a free meal at this stage) as we will not have our kitchen facilities up and running by Thursday. We feel that parents would rather have their child attend school with a packed lunch from home than not attend school at all. Parents should access the grounds via the side gate and proceed to Early Years as normal on Thursday. Please take extra care while on site. Additional supervision will be in place for the route.
Unfortunately, we cannot offer morning or after-school club on Thursday.
At this time, we are focussing our efforts on getting everyone else back to school on Monday of next week, including the school being able to offer school meals in temporary accomodation. I will know more tomorrow/Thursday as work hopefully gets underway in making the main building safe. We are getting there; it is really just the forensic and insurance work that is taking the time.
All staff will meet on site for the first time since the fire tomorrow (Wednesday) and will be working together to put plans in place to ensure that we can offer a safe and workable environment for pupils, parents and staff.
Once again, thank you for your support and understanding. We are so grateful for the many lovely comments we have received (including an email from an ex-pupil now living in Australia and a donation from a child’s grandparents) and for your patience.
Mr Beard’s meeting with colleagues from Manchester City Council (MCC) was very positive in that he has been assured of the full support of all departments. This has been demonstrated today by the number of MCC colleagues arriving on site to assist, including teams to check the electrics, alarm systems, boiler and the safety arrangements for when we return to school. The clean up operation (which is not that extensive) will begin tomorrow morning.
More progress has been made today as the work of the fire investigation team and insurance company is nearing completion. Surveyors and structural engineers have been at the school today and have made some recommendations to Manchester City Council as to how to make the hall roof safe for further work and protect the hall (and adjacent corridors) from the impact of heavy rain. At this stage, there is a limit as to how much work can be carried out on the roof given its poor condition. Work may begin tomorrow or Wednesday to put a temporary roof cover in place. Until this is in place, it is unlikely that we can return to school, given the risk of flooding to the hall and other areas of the school.
In terms of getting the children back to school, no decisions have been made about this today. Given that our classrooms are all intact and usuable, we are prioritising our efforts to try and get everyone back together at the school site as soon as possible. We feel this offers the best environment and solution for the children and is far more manageable for the school than dispersing children and staff (and management) to a number of different sites, all of which would be different and none entirely fit for purpose. There are many challenges and responsiblities involved in doing this, not least the need for safeguarding of the children, effective communications between sites, availability of resources, transport and parking, wrap-around care, cleaning and caretaking, appropriate/separate toilet facilities for staff and children, catering, first aid and safety checks. At this stage, we have not identified a single site than can accomodate children of all age groups (we would have to split siblings, for example) and offer the facilities we need to do this safely and effectively. We have had many offers but few offer an ideal solution for everyone. There is much to consider and the priority for MCC and the school is to work as hard as we can to get everyone back to school as soon as we can. We have been told that it is unlikely that we will return to school until next week. However, this may change as more decisions and progress are hopefully made tomorrow .
Thanks you to everyone who has offered help and suggestions. These are appreciated, as is your patience and supportive comments. Hopefully, we will have more information tomorrow or Wednesday. In the meantime, we apologise for the inconvenience this is causing. Please be assured everyone is working very hard to achieve the same goal – everyone back together at school as soon as possible.
Additional Notes (Class Visits)
Progress has been made today in moving the recovery operation forward. Insurance officers have visited the site and discussed the extent of the damage with senior staff. They have also authorised the start of the clean-up operation which will be undertaken by external contractors. Mr Beard will be attending a planning meeting at the Town Hall on Monday morning to work with Local Authority officers to put plans in place to get the children back to school as soon as possible – whether it be on the school site or elsewhere. We are considering alternative accomodation at a number of local venues but no decisions have been made at this time as we need to ensure that any alternative venue is appropriate and safe.
We are waiting now for safety officers/structural engineers to determine how safe the remainder of the buildling is for teaching and learning. If the building and its systems are regarded as safe, we will aim to have everyone back together on the school site as soon as we can. We do not have a timescale for this at the moment. The hall roof has suffered extensive damage and we will be without the use of the hall for quite some time. Given how central the hall is to the life of the school, this will present us with some challenges and the need for some changes in the way we work, including serving lunches, PE lessons, assemblies, performances, etc.
I will post more information on Monday evening.
We have today (Saturday) been in contact with senior staff at the Local Authority to ensure that the school receives the support it needs to recover as soon as it can from this serious incident. This includes support for buildings safety and repair, possible alternative accomodation (if required) and school meals. At this stage, we need Monday and Tuesday of next week to fully assess the damage to the school, start the clean-up and repair operation and to draw up realistic plans to re-open the school (albeit with some restrictions) or arrange for alternative accomodation for some pupils for later in the week. At this stage, the school will be closed to pupils on Monday (3rd November) and Tuesday (4th November) of next week. However, parents are advised to make alternative childcare plans for the whole week just in case.
The Police and Fire Service have undertaken some investigations this morning and want to reassure the community that this fire does not appear at this stage to have been started deliberately and that there is no evidence to link this incident with other fires which have occurred in the area in recent weeks.
I am sad to report that there was a fire at school on the evening of Friday 31st October. The fire started some time before 9pm and thanks to 999 calls made by our neighbours (thank you), the fire service was soon in attendance. Four fire crews took control of the blaze which was isolated to the roof of the school hall. The blaze was put out within one hour.
Thanks to the efforts of the fire crews, the damage appears to be isolated to the roof of the school hall which has pretty much been destroyed and is now left open to the elements. Surprisingly, the interior of the hall has been affected very little, other than smoke and heat damage, burnt debris which has fallen from the ceiling and roof, and inevitable water damage, mainly to the wooden floor and walls. Classrooms and the office areas appear to be unaffacted at this stage. Whilst this is a critical incident which will clearly affect the school for some time, we need to be thankful that no-one was injured, that we have not lost more of our school building and that the incident will not seriously affect (given a little time to clear up) our core purpose of teaching and learning.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage. Fire officers and the police will undertake an investigation during the weekend. There needs to be a thorough investigation by all interested parties, including the school’s insurance company, before we can move forward. Staff and governors have no information about the cause of the fire to share with parents and the public at this stage.
Arrangements for the Children – SCHOOL CLOSURE
The school WILL NOT be open to children on Monday 3rd November. Much work needs to be done in assessing the damage to the hall roof, to the fabric of other parts of the building and to the hall itself which has many uses during the school day, not least as a corridor to the office areas and main entrance. The floor of the hall has been damaged and needs to be made safe. A full risk assessment and checks of our electrical systems need to be completed before we can allow children, parents and staff back on the premises.
Parents are therefore advised to make childcare arrangements for their children for the entire week beginning 3rd November. However, please be assured that the Governors, Senior Leadership Team and the Local Authority will be doing all they can to get the school operating as normal as soon as we possibly can. If we can do so, once all risks have been assessed, we will open our classrooms for teaching but may not have use of the school hall for some time. Once open, we may need to have other plans in place to manage lunch times. Parents will be informed by text and via this website of any arrangements for re-opening the school.
Help from Parents
We are aware that some parents were at the scene on Friday evening and have offered to help with the clearing operation. At this stage, we are grateful for the offer of support but until we assess the damage and discuss options with all parties, we do not need help at this stage. As soon as we feel we can move forward, we will post news on this website.
I would like to thank all staff, governors and Mike Kane MP who attended the scene and offered their support to fire crews and the police.
All for now. I will keep everyone posted as soon as more information is available.