Burst pipes wreak havoc at Norfolk schools
At least 17 Norfolk schools have been flooded during the Christmas holidays after freezing temperatures caused pipes to burst.
The county council's insurance department has so far received a total 19 claims from the schools which include Ashleigh Infant, at Wymondham, King George VI Primary, at Great Bircham, near Sandringham, and Mundesley Junior School.
A spokesman said the problem was due to the 'prolonged sub-zero temperatures that we have been experiencing' and had affected 17 of the 434 schools the council was responsible for.
The headteacher of Toftwood Infant School, near Dereham, was called to the School Lane site by the holiday club who had discovered a leak in the roof outside the year one classrooms.
Joanna Pedlow, who lives nearby, said when she got there she found herself ankle-deep in water.
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'I told them to put a bucket underneath and I would get there as soon as possible,' she said. 'They said they didn't think a bucket would hold it. When I got in, it was like a waterfall to be honest.'
A cold water pipe had burst and was flooding into a connecting corridor as well as running down the walls of the year-one classrooms.
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Mrs Pedlow said: 'More worryingly, our ICT suite was also flooded from above and we suspect there is damage to a great deal of the ICT equipment.'
The school's nursery will be closed for the first week of the new term - re-opening on January 10 - to allow the 90 children in year one to use the room, along with the library and main hall, as a temporary classroom.
Staff, governors and parents have been told about the problem through the school's text-messaging service and the headteacher stressed that only the nursery would be closed when term begins on Wednesday.
Mrs Pedlow added: 'It could have been worse. If the holiday club had not been in, we might not have discovered it until we went back for a training day on Tuesday.'
In Norwich, George White Junior School, Crome Road, could be closed until the middle of January after a pipe burst on Christmas Day.
Flooding has caused extensive damage to the building. Headteacher June Sewell said her deputy had gone to the school to try to switch off an alarm.
She added: 'She couldn't turn the alarm off and then realised there was something not quite right. It smelled funny, it felt damp and when she went through into the main body of the school, away from the entrance area, it was just a scene of chaos.
'We have ceilings that have come down, we have floors that are lifting, we have no electricity, we have no heating, we have no telephone lines. I doubt very much if the computers are working.'
Workers were at the George White Junior School today, removing carpets and installing dehumidifiers to dry out the building.
Parents are advised to keep an eye on the emergency school closures list on the county council website in case the building can be re-opened early.
A county council spokesman said: 'The risk and insurance department historically has always issued advice regarding preventative action to be taken over the Christmas holidays. This information was re-issued earlier in December.'
Teachers and children will return to their schools after a fortnight's holiday next week.
The full list of schools affected by burst pipes are:
Ashleigh Infant, Wymondham; Wymongham High; Caston Primary, near Watton; Old Buckenham Primary, near Attleborough; Toftwood Infant, near Dereham; Brockdish Primary, near Diss; St Martin at Shouldham Primary, near Downham Market; King George VI, Great Bircham, near Sandringham; Eaton Primary, near Norwich; Tunstead Primary, near Coltishall; The Clare School, Eaton, Norwich; Bawburgh School, near Norwich; Anthony Curton Primary, Walpole, near Wisbech; Thomas Bullock Primary, Shipdham; Mundesley Junior, near Cromer; George White Junior, Norwich; Great Massingham VC Primary.