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Pupils at fire-ravaged Catherine Junior school to be sent elsewhere in Leicester


Pupils and staff at a fire-ravaged school are being sent elsewhere while the city council works on a permanent solution.

Catherine Junior School's gym was destroyed in a blaze last week and the rest of the building was smoke-logged, with harmful asbestos released into the air at the site in Brandon Street, Belgrave.

The blaze was started accidentally by workmen fixing the roof.

The council has now announced that from Monday the school's 380 pupils and its teaching staff will be divided between Taylor Road Primary, in St Matthew's, Rushey Mead primary and secondary schools and Soar Valley College, in Rushey Mead.

Parents were told yesterday.

Chris Hassall, head of Taylor Road, which is taking 94 pupils, said: "We have three spare classrooms at the moment which will be used by year three pupils from the school until the end of term.

"It's an awful situation for them to be in, but we're more than happy to help.

"I'd like to think that if the same ever happened to us, our neighbouring schools would step forward in the same way.

"We're staggering start and finish times so that there isn't congestion.

"Pupils from Catherine Junior will start 15 minutes later and finish 15 minutes later than Taylor Road pupils.

"It's going to be a unique experience for them and we want to make it as pleasant as possible."

Mr Hassall will be meeting parents from the junior school tomorrow morning to discuss the changes.

Pupils will remain at all four schools until the new term starts in January, when they will be relocated to temporary mobile classrooms on Abbey Community Primary's playing fields, in Belgrave.

Debra Bailey, head of Rushey Mead Primary, where 100 pupils are being sent, said: "We're lucky we have a large site and are able to turn areas into extra classrooms.

"We'll be using a teachers' work space and community room to do that and they will even have their own dedicated entrance.

"This is about ensuring the welfare of youngsters who need to continue their education."

Mel Berry, head of Soar Valley College, which will take in 98 pupils, said: "We're delighted to be helping them out. We all need to pull together."

An asbestos decontamination project will have to be carried out at the Catherine Junior School site.

Councillor Vi Dempster, the council's assistant city mayor for schools, said: "I'd like to thank head teachers, governors and pupils of all the schools for coming together and offering practical support.

"This is evidence of the strength of collaborative working here in Leicester.

"The fire itself has obviously caused significant disruption, but we have made these alternative schooling arrangements with the co-operation of all the schools involved.

"We look forward to helping ensure as best we can that the situation returns to normal and pupils can continue their lessons unaffected."

Pupils at fire-ravaged Catherine Junior school to be sent elsewhere in  Leicester

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