Harlow School That Needs Rebuild is Safety Risk in ‘Extreme Weather’

A secondary school will need to be rebuilt because of concerns it would not withstand an extreme weather event, the government has said.

Sir Frederick Gibberd College in Harlow announced on Monday it would not open for the new term in two weeks.

Conservative education minister Nick Gibb said a survey revealed issues with its “modular mode of construction”.

The school site opened in 2021 and its building contractor is no longer operating.

Mr Gibb told BBC Essex the Department for Education (DfE) requested a structural survey because of pre-existing concerns about the construction company.

“It identified issues that related to the structural integrity of the buildings, weakening its ability for example to withstand extreme events such as high winds or a big snowfall or indeed a collision from a vehicle,” he said.

Asked if the buildings could collapse because of a weather event, such as a winter storm, Mr Gibb said: “That’s the risk and we are not prepared to take any risk with children, or teachers or staff’s lives in a school, and that’s why we intervened very quickly.”

A “tiny number of schools” in the UK, understood to be three in total, were affected by the same issue, said Mr Gibb.

Sir Frederick Gibberd College, which caters for children aged 11 to 18, was opened in 2019, but pupils were taught at its parent school for two years – Burnt Mill Academy – while construction continued.

The school said the situation was “extremely stressful for us all” and said the DfE was responsible for commissioning the project.

Local Conservative MP Robert Halfon, also an education minister, said the revelation was “shocking” and said the DfE would “fund the rebuild of the school”.

He said there was a plan to set up remote learning and find temporary teaching facilities by Monday 18 September.


Source: www.bbc.co.uk