UPDATE – MILFORD JUNIOR SCHOOL: Safety will always take precedence as school building is closed
PARENTS and carers of children who attend Milford Junior School in Yeovil were told today (Friday, August 26) that the school building will need to shut indefinitely after concerns were raised during a recent survey.
Regular building surveys are carried out at all Somerset schools to monitor the conditions of the buildings. A recent survey was carried out two weeks ago on the Milford Junior School site with the findings received last week. The report established there are concerns with the structure of the school building.
In the best interests of pupils and staff, the Milford Junior School building has therefore closed with immediate effect with alternative education provision being put in place for staff and over 400 children.
The Huish Academy Trust, Department for Education and Somerset County Council are doing everything within their powers to establish a temporary building solution which ensures the children can be brought back together on one site as soon as possible.
Due to these circumstances, and in order to give staff further time to adapt and plan, children will return to face-to-face education slightly later than planned. All Milford Junior School children will return from Monday, September 12, and education provision will be delivered via alternative nearby school sites.
From September 1, children will access educational provision via online learning.
Cllr Tessa Munt, executive lead for children’s services at Somerset County Council, said: “The safety of children and staff always take precedence. I’d like to thank the school staff, our DfE partners and County Council staff who moved so quickly after receiving news that there were health and safety building concerns at Milford Junior School.
“While 400 children won’t be able to enter their normal school building next week, alternative educational provision has been put in place and every one of the pupils will return to face-to-face learning in a classroom, albeit in a different location, from Monday, September 12 – quite a feat! I’d also like to thank our neighbouring schools who have stepped forward so diligently to offer their support in this challenging time.”
A joint statement from Huish Academy Trust chief executive officer Pauline Price and chairman of trustees Jackie Bachrach said: “Milford Junior School joined the Huish Academy Trust in 2019 and since then, the Trust has worked tirelessly with school staff to ensure our children have the best educational environment that we can provide.
“Safety has always been our primary concern and has long been a key priority. Due to these concerns, we made an application for a new school build to the DfE in April, and we are hopeful that this will move forward quickly. Following a visit to survey the structure by further specialist DfE structural engineers, a decision was made not to open the site to staff or children.
“We have worked very hard to ensure all children will receive face to face teaching in school environments with their own teachers and support staff as well as specialist SEN support, while we work, at pace, with the DfE and Somerset County Council to create a new temporary school, complete with hall and playing areas, to be ready by the end of the autumn term.
“We will continue to work with the school and local community over the coming weeks to ensure all transitions to schools are managed as seamlessly and carefully as possible. We are sorry for the disruption this will cause to our children and their families, but the safety and the wellbeing of our pupils and staff has driven the decisions we have had to make over a very short space of time.”
Claire Laverty, headteacher at Milford Junior School, said: “We know that the children have suffered during the last couple of years which is why we have worked hard to provide face to face teaching from Monday 12th September. All our staff are ready to support the children and ensure they are comfortable with the arrangements we have made.”
As a precautionary measure only, further and more detailed checks and inspections are taking place at Milford Infants School - although no concerns are evident from the initial findings of its most recent survey which took place at the beginning of the summer holiday.
Again, due to these structural assessments, children at Milford Infant School will also return to face-to-face education slightly later than planned. All children are expected to return from Monday, September 12. If able to reopen the Infant School building sooner, the school will do so and notify parents accordingly.
From September 5, Milford Infant School children will access educational provision via online learning (similar to during the Covid pandemic).
Wendy Chant, head of Milford Infants School, said: “We are disappointed that our start to the academic year has been postponed but the safety of our children and staff is paramount.”
Milford pre-school is not affected by the above and will continue to operate as normal.
Earlier news about the school closure building can be found on this link - https://bit.ly/3Knkm1W