Fire-damaged school ready for new term

THE headteacher of a fire-hit school vowed everything was on course for today's start of term as engineers began tearing down the blaze ravaged building.

THE headteacher of a fire-hit school vowed everything was on course for today's start of term as engineers began tearing down the blaze ravaged building.

Laurie Robinson, from Copleston High School in Ipswich, refused to be downbeat about the work saying it represented a new step forward.

He was speaking yesterday as experts from CDC Demolition Ltd used machinery pull down the first floor of the central school building which used to house a staff room, offices and science lab.

The fire, which happened on Sunday August 27, is believed to have been started deliberately.


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New pupils from Year Seven and those in the Sixth Form are set to return this morning while those in Years 10 and 11 will start on Monday and those in Years Eight and Nine on Tuesday.

Mr Robinson said: “Hopefully the demolition should be completed today [Tuesday] but even if it continues it is still safe for children to return.

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“The exclusion zone is designed to make it safe to have people on site while the work takes place and there is nothing for parents or children to worry about.

“The temporary classrooms will be delivered on Thursday and Friday and all is going as planned.

“I see it [the demolition] as progress. The days of feeling sad are over now and the next stage is moving forward. We are already excited about designing a more modern facility to replace the older one.”

Mr Robinson said the school still did not know the cost of the damage although it is more than the £100,000 previously reported.

“Following the demolition of the first floor we will have to make an assessment as to whether the ground floor is stable or if the building needs to be reduced to foundation level,” he said. “Obviously this will have a sizeable impact on the cost however what I can say is that £100,000 is a massive understatement and it will be closer to half a million.”

Mr Robinson added: “I would like to say 'thank-you' on behalf of the whole school community for the hundreds of cards, letters, emails and phone calls we have had since the fire.”

Water damage also means the school bell is not working so teachers are using an old air raid Second World War warning machine to let pupils know when lessons have finished.

“I think it adds to the feeling of Dunkirk spirit in the school,” Mr Robinson said. He also urged parents and children to only telephone the school in emergencies because it currently only has one phone line up and running.

n An 18-year-old man has been arrested and bailed in connection with the suspected arson attack.

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