Fire-hit school rallies for new term

A CRISIS management team was formed yesterday as a major operation gets under way to prepare a fire-hit school for the new term.Flames devastated part of Ipswich's Copleston High School late on Sunday night, leaving a repair bill likely to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

A CRISIS management team was formed yesterday as a major operation gets under way to prepare a fire-hit school for the new term.

Flames devastated part of Ipswich's Copleston High School late on Sunday night, leaving a repair bill likely to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

An aerial photograph taken from the Suffolk police helicopter today reveals the scale of the blaze, which was largely confined to a first floor staff room, offices and a science lab.

Despite the massive task faced by the recovery team, education bosses last night remained confident the site should be safe for pupils to return in time for the new term, which begins next Wednesday.


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Although a number of offers have been received from people wishing to help with the clear-up, a Suffolk County Council spokesman said this is not necessary at this time.

"Senior staff at the school have formed a small crisis management team to tackle the immediate problems of getting the school ready for the start of term,” he said.

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“Contract cleaners and electricians are on site, as are insurance assessors and structural engineers. Lots of people have phoned and arrived at the school to offer help and support but, at this very early stage, it is best if the school team is left to its task. The offers of help will be very welcome later."

Laurie Robinson, head of the school, cut short a family holiday in Yorkshire to survey the scene.

And he thanked pupils, former pupils, staff and parents who have all pulled together in the wake of the suspected arson attack.

Mr Robinson said: “When I arrived at school, I was met by a whole crowd of pupils and former pupils who came up to me and said 'I want to help - put my name down on the list'.

“It was a lovely moment. It's great that the pupils care about their school. We have had excellent support from the fire service and Suffolk County Council, as well as from the staff of the school and students and parents.”

He said a final decision on whether the school will be open for the start of term will not be made until talks had taken place with the fire service and structural engineers.

Around an inch of water remains in the corridors around the worst hit areas, as does the dank smell left by the inferno.

Mr Robinson said it could be the water that causes the biggest challenge in reopening the school for the start of term.

Speaking as the fire service pulled out of the school, assistant divisional officer Paul Seager, said there was no “obvious cause” but added he was “reasonably satisfied” it was started deliberately.

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

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