'Failed, outraged and cheated': Somerset parents worry as students can't return to 'unsafe' building

  • ITV News West Country's Bob Cruyws' report on the outrage of parents

Parents at a school in Somerset fear their children will be missing out on education as the school building has been deemed potentially unsafe by structural engineers.

Haygrove School in Bridgwater was ordered to close its building by the Department for Education last month.

The site, which was only built in 2020, will be wrapped entirely in scaffolding. 

A five-metre exclusion zone has also been set up around the building and temporary toilets and porter cabins have been brought onto the school's basketball courts to serve as office space.

More than 1,000 pupils should be returning to Haygrove School next week to start the new academic year, but there aren't enough classrooms to accommodate them all.

The school has staggered the start of term and space has been made at the nearby Bridgwater and Taunton college for Year 11 students to return next week.

Year 10's will return on 18 September, but for year seven, eight, and nine classes, it has not been determined when they can come back to school, leaving parents feeling as if they've been failed.

Mother Shona Howes told ITV West Country: "Once the enormity of the situation became clear, I realised that actually, I'm not sad, I'm angry.

"It's crazy that we've endangered our children's lives, thousands of children's lives in a building that's absolutely not fit for purpose and that makes me very very angry."

Mother Angie Spurgeon added: "I feel failed, I feel outraged and I feel cheated. It's our taxes that pay for this.

"They built something on the cheap and now they are going to have to spend a lot of money to put it right. We've all been cheated."

Headteacher Aaron Reid has worked at the school since 2012.

He said: "Our priority is to make sure the children get the best possible education, we're a really successful school, and we've got brilliant relationships families, with children.

"It's hugely frustrating. We want to be teaching, we want to be doing what we do best. We're working really closely with the DfE. It's quite a complex process.

"These are the moments when you realise there are great people in education really pulling together so I'm really grateful."

The Bridgwater school is one of three across the country to have closed under similar circumstances

They were all built by the same contractor Caledonian Modular, which has since gone bust.

The firm also started to build two schools in Cornwall - Newquay Primary Academy and Launceston Primary School - but they had to be torn down partway through construction when the firm collapsed.

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