Ipswich: Primary school opens without heating

PUPILS at a primary school wrapped up in their winter woollies for class yesterday after the school was left without heating for a day.

PUPILS at a primary school wrapped up in their winter woollies for class yesterday after the school was left without heating for a day.

St Margaret’s Primary School in Bolton Lane, Ipswich was left shivering after a delivery of oil, ordered around 10 days ago, failed to turn up last week because of the heavy snowfall.

But with the promise of oil arriving yesterday, head teacher Kim Kelway took the decision to stay open after a similar incident last year.

Mrs Kelway said when the school’s boiler broke down last year and the school closed for the day, the heating was back up and running within the hour.

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“Last year our boiler broke down and we had one day off, I made the decision to close and it was mended within an hour and a half,” she said last night.

“We felt it was better to have school go ahead and not shut the school for no reason.

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“We had 11 electric heaters spread throughout the school and the children are all wrapped up so we were all warm.

“We were onto the oil company every day last week and we were assured we were going to have our oil delivered.”

At the time of going to press the school had still not received the delivery of oil but were hoping it would be in time for the start of school today.

Meanwhile, a teaching union has raised concerns about the level of pressure being put on teachers and schools to stay open in severe weather after the majority of schools remained open in spite of the heavy snow fall last week.

Graham White, the Suffolk secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said he was concerned the pressure on schools from the local authority had caused headteachers to rethink.

He said schools have strict rules and regulations regarding boiler malfunctions, stipulating schools must be able to heat up to 18C within an hour of opening.

“I am concerned about the attitude of the authority over severe weather, putting pressure on schools not to close, even if it is very snowy.

“I think there is a perception amongst schools that they can only close in exceptional circumstances.

“I think if pupils need to wear coats inside that is cause for closure.

“I would be concerned that pupils are having to sit still in the cold classrooms.

“We need to go back to the situation before where headteachers made a decision about whether to close or not without the pressure from the authority. Schools do not take the decision lightly.”

Despite concerns from the NUT, Mrs Kelway said she did not feel pressurised into staying open.

Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for children, schools and young people’s services, said: “We strongly encourage schools to make every effort to remain open during periods of severe weather and we have provided schools with practical advice to assist them to do this.”

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