£29m Harlow school at risk of collapse is forced to close again after thieves steal power cables

The Sir Frederick Gibberd College in Harlow has had to close its doors again. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A school that was forced to shut because of building safety concerns has closed again after thieves stole power cables worth tens of thousands of pounds from its temporary classrooms.

The break-in at Sir Frederick Gibberd College in Harlow, Essex, happened over the weekend and left the school without power, meaning all pupils have reverted to being taught online.

It was described as "a well-planned, sophisticated theft" by the school's trust, BMAT, which said the school was working with the Department For Education and its insurers to replace the equipment as quickly as possible.

Essex Police has confirmed officers are looking into the theft and has appealed for witnesses, while the college confirmed it would re-open on Wednesday.

Sir Frederick Gibberd College opened in 2019 and has 440 children aged 11 to 19.

The Sir Frederick Gibberd College in Harlow has closed after power cables were stolen over the weekend Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Department of Education (DfE) advised that the school should close in August after contractors highlighted structural building concerns in its new £29m modular-style building.

Large cracks in the walls, flooding and black mould were found in the building, including the sports hall.

The Department for Education closed the school with immediate effect while repairs were carried out.

In a letter to parents following the cable theft, Helena Mills, chief executive of BMAT Education, said: "We are now putting in place with the Department For Education additional CCTV, security personnel, as well as fencing around the generator to minimise the chances of this happening again".

Sir Frederick Gibberd College in Harlow was built at a cost of £29m. Credit: Caledonian Modular/YouTube

A full timetable of online learning continued while the school was closed.

Ms Mills added: "I am very disappointed that our school has been targeted in this way after all the setbacks of the past few months. We are conducting reviews and working with the relevant authorities to get to the bottom of how this was allowed to happen."

A spokesman for Essex Police said: "We received a call shortly after 5.30am on Monday reporting the theft of cabling from an address in Tendring Road, Harlow.

“Our inquiries into this incident are ongoing."

The £29m college was built by Newark-based contractor Caledonian Modular, which went into administration in 2022 and was later bought by another building firm, saving around 200 jobs.

The college opened on 2 September 2019 and moved into its current site two years later.

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