A primary school in Leicester has been forced to close due to a concern over the structure of the building. Mayflower Primary School, in Evington, will close from Monday, April 24.
Parents were told of the closure in a letter from head teacher Luke Whitney, dated Thursday, April 20. A recent survey of the building brought to light the concern, and the school was subsequently advised to close the building so further surveys could be undertaken, he said.
Mr Whitney added that the school, which is maintained by Leicester City Council, is working with the authority and the Department for Education to continue its pupils’ education. It means children might have to return to remote learning if classrooms cannot be found at other sites, he said. The closure could also impact SATs tests in May for Years 2 and 6, he added.
Mr Whitney wrote:
“It is with great sadness that I need to write to you about a conversation that took place this morning with the Department for Education (DfE). A recent survey of the school building has resulted in the identification of a potential structural concern.
“Professional advice has recommended that for health and safety reasons, the building must close from Monday 24th April 2023 to all pupils and staff whilst more intrusive and extensive surveys are undertaken. This cannot be done safely whilst the school is operational. Currently, I am unclear about when we will be able to reopen, but we are exploring, at pace, options that allow pupils to return to face-to-face education at the earliest opportunity. Before I outline our early management plan, it is very important that I apologise to you for the huge impact this is going to have. As a community, we have faced adversity before, and I know that we will be able to rise up to the many new challenges ahead.
“A school closure, even on a temporary basis, creates many difficulties, but the most important matter is the safety of children alongside the continuation of education. In partnership with the local authority and DfE, we are looking at all available options, and hope to have some firm news soon. In the first instance, it is likely that remote education will be available, but if buildings can be found for our children, even if they are spread across a number of different sites, this is preferable.
“At Mayflower, we also know that some of our children are vulnerable, or have additional needs, which makes daily attendance at school so critical. I have already had contact with two local facilities who may be able to help, and if we can arrange this, we will write to these families as soon as we can. When other spaces become available, we will be in touch, and my hope is that classes or even year groups can be taught together. Please be assured we are working very hard to make sure our children can continue to receive high-quality education alongside their teachers and peers.
“Despite the school building being closed, there remain many things that we can do together, and part of our curriculum provision will be a strong focus on bringing the children together regularly. Good examples of this are Forest Schools in Year 5, swimming in Year 4, the Reception visit next Friday, Wellies and Worms in Year 1, all of our sporting commitments, and other exciting activities that your children will be able to attend. We share your view that social isolation is the biggest challenge our children will face, and timetabled weekly activities such as these will really help.
“Finally, we need to consider the SATS in Years 2 and 6. Given the impossible position the school has been placed in, we understand how outcomes could be affected. This letter is not the correct forum for a detailed discussion about this, but I will write again to parents in both year groups to outline what will be done. Please do not worry and look out for my reassuring letter tomorrow.
“All that now remains is for me to apologise once again for what has happened but if COVID-19 has taught me one thing, it is that in times of crisis, strong communities come together, we support each other, and collectively look forward to a much brighter future ahead.”
A city council spokesman said:
“The DfE notified the council and Mayflower Primary School of the findings of a planned survey yesterday. The survey indicated structural concerns and it was agreed that the school should close as a precautionary measure to enable further investigations and remedial work to be carried out.
“The headteacher and staff are working very hard to put plans in place for remote learning in the short-term, and we will be supporting him with this and in looking for a longer-term solution that enables face-to-face learning. We are working to ensure that vulnerable children who need to be in school have a classroom provided in another location as a priority.
“We understand the difficulties this will cause for families, many of whom are today celebrating Eid, but we know the school community will pull together to make this work under the leadership of their headteacher and with our full support.”
LeicestershireLive asked the city council for further information on the nature of the structural concerns and is awaiting a response.