by Martin Currie
St Catherine’s School will not open at the start
of September due to asbestos contamination. The material was disturbed
during work on the roof over the summer. The whole school has been
sealed off, and there is the real possibility that furniture, equipment,
books, records and children’s work may have to be destroyed
as they have been contaminated.
The school governors, Headteacher, LEA and the Diocese
of Hallam have succeeded in finding another school to move into
for the time being. Hemsworth School, Blackstock Road (close to
Norton Water Tower) was closed in July 2003 and is awaiting demolition.
More local accommodation would have meant splitting the school
up, so the intention is for coaches to move children and staff from
the St Catherine’s to Hemsworth and back each day, a 45-minute
journey in morning traffic.
Urgent efforts are being made to clean and equip the deserted Hemsworth
School but it will not be ready by the start of term on 2nd September.
Pupils will therefore have the windfall of a few extra days holiday.
Nursery children stay at home
Unfortunately there are no plans as yet for the nursery so these
small children will have to stay away. Liz Smith, a local parent
and childminder sends three of her own children to St Catherine’s,
and will be caring for a number of children unable to attend the
“Given the circumstances, the staff and governors
have managed to turn around a potentially disastrous situation into
something that will be a positive learning experience for all involved.”
Her daughter Victoria aged 7 did not seem too concerned. Her response
to an extra week on holiday was simply “Hurrah!”
Questions are being asked about the handling of the work over the
summer, as to whether the contamination could have been avoided.
It is hoped the St Catherine’s site will be reopened by Monday