Braintree: Hopes that fire-destroyed John Ray Infants school will be built bigger

More than 30 firefighters tackled a blaze at The John Ray County Primary School in Braintree at 16:4

More than 30 firefighters tackled a blaze at The John Ray County Primary School in Braintree at 16:43pm on Saturday 31st August.The incident commander reported that the fire involved the infants section of the school. - Credit: Archant

Council chiefs hope the rebuilding of a school destroyed by fire will allow them to construct a bigger building to cope with rising pupil numbers.

John Ray Infants School in Braintree was gutted by a blaze on August 31 last year, days before its 280 pupils were due to return after the summer holidays.

The fire shocked the community and left parents wondering where their children would go. Initially, they were transported to Roseacres in Takeley, the former site of Takeley Primary School, but more recently pupils have been housed in temporary cabins on-site.

Now Essex County Council has put forward proposals to build a bigger infants school and expand the junior school next door at a cost of £7million.

Its cabinet is due to discuss the plans next week and has been asked to approve moves to appoint a contractor for the design and build elements of the project.

According to a report prepared by Ray Gooding, cabinet member for education, the authority is currently in discussion with its insurers, Zurich, to recover the replacement cost of the infants school, and intends to finance the expansion of both schools from the Braintree Basic Need allocation.

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The council is currently consulting on expanding both schools from three to four classes per year group and, if this is approved, will have to provide a third more accommodation in both school buildings.

Its says combining the rebuild of the infant school with expansion to the junior school will minimise the disturbance on-site for the children also achieve “procurement efficiencies”.

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It is proposed that the project will go to market to procure a contractor in February and that the new infant building will be completed by September 2015. It is hoped the expansion of the junior school will be finished for the start of the new school term in September 2016.

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