Search

‘Uncertainty’ for schools as construction of new sites on hold due to virus

PUBLISHED: 13:32 03 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:32 03 April 2020

Norfolk schools face delays to the construction of their new sites after the county council suspended all its building works due to the coronavirus outbreak. Pictured, schools have closed due to the virus. Photo: PA

Norfolk schools face delays to the construction of their new sites after the county council suspended all its building works due to the coronavirus outbreak. Pictured, schools have closed due to the virus. Photo: PA

Norfolk schools face delays to the construction of their new sites after the county council suspended all its building works due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Pupils, teachers and parents at the affected schools are facing renewed “uncertainty” after the projects were put on pause.

Sites at Hethersett Woodside Primary, Trowse Primary and St Edmunds in King’s Lynn were expected to be completed this summer ahead of a September opening - but the pandemic has seen workers forced to down tools.

The county council said the measure was a necessary step to keep “construction workers and the wider community safe”.

And one headteacher insisted students’ education would not be compromised, despite the challenge of accommodating rising pupil numbers.

A total of 31 county council building projects have had to be abandoned during the outbreak, with 15 schools, including works on smaller scale projects, affected.

And Norfolk County Council said other schools may also face delays to works where they have directly employed contractors.

READ MORE: Consultation over music service cuts put on hold due to coronavirus

A spokesperson confirmed while there were no brand new schools opening in September, the three affected were all set to move in for the new school years.

They added: “The children are in existing school buildings where they can be accommodated in the short term. We are currently contingency planning with schools to ensure learning will not be compromised by this delay. “

John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services said: “Due to the pandemic we have taken the decision to temporarily suspend building works on school sites, in line with social distancing advice, to keep construction workers and the wider community safe.

“We do not know how long these measures will be in place and the health of Norfolk’s residents has to be our first priority.

“We won’t know the impact until we know how long the current restrictions are in place but would like to assure parents that every child in Norfolk will have a school place in September.”

READ MORE: Norwich school teachers create protective equipment for NHS staff

Stuart Odell, headteacher at Trowse Primary, said: “We’ll have to change our plans because it’s very likely that the new school building won’t be open in time for September - but that’s assuming we’re open in September.

“We’ll use the space we’ve got available to house the children - we’ve got more and more children that want to come here. In time, that won’t work but we can probably squeeze people in.”

He said the school was discussing “four to five different ideas” about how to manage the situation but said there was no room on site for mobile classrooms due to a lack of field and playground space.

And he said rotating students in the morning or afternoon was “not being discussed” and added: “We’re certainly not compromising hours of education. We have a duty to provide 190 days of school.

“That isn’t in question.”

While a parent at Hethersett Woodside Primary said the uncertainty was likely to further “unsettle” children.

REAd MORE: Three quarters of parents worry about coronavirus impact on children’s education, survey says

The parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “While I totally understand there really is no alternative, for a lot of parents this will create a lot of uncertainty in terms of where their child will start school in September.

“It’s already been quite a difficult process to explain to very young children, some of whom are likely to feel unsettled enough by the move as it is.

“This certainly won’t help.”

Hethersett Woodside Primary and St Edmunds did not respond to requests for comment.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press