Primary school forced to close after asbestos discovery

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ASBESTOS forced a primary school in South Yorkshire to close for emergency works yesterday.

Children at Whiston Junior and Infant School in Rotherham were sent home from school and will now be taught at different venues, including the Magna Science and Adventure Centre and another nearby primary school, until after the Easter holidays.

The school building was due to be refurbished over the break but preparatory work found “some traces of asbestos in a small part of the building”.

Headteacher Jackie Williams said last night: “Clearly we do not take the decision to close the school lightly, but the safety and well-being of staff, pupils and visitors is always our first priority so we have taken this precautionary step while work is completed.

“Initial tests that have been carried out do not indicate any health risks and further tests and work will be completed to ensure that the refurbishment work can continue safely for all concerned.

“While all that happens we must unfortunately close the school and we realise there will be short-term disruption for parents, but we hope the alternative provision being organised will mean that disruption is kept to a minimum.

“We hope that the use of Magna, particularly, will actually become an exciting chance for our staff and pupils to learn in a different environment and we intend to make the best of that opportunity.”

From today, Year 6 pupils should be brought to Whiston Junior and Infant School as normal, but will be taken by staff to nearby Whiston Worrygoose School.

Children in other year groups, meanwhile, are off school today, and from Monday will be taken by bus to Magna.

Joyce Thacker, strategic director of children and young people’s services at Rotherham Council, said: “We would like to thank Whiston Worrygoose and Magna for their support and we would ask parents to bear with us on Friday while the school staff finish preparations, so that lessons can continue as soon as possible.

“The council does have monitoring procedures in place for its public buildings, including schools, and it is through this work that the issue has been identified here and action taken immediately.”