Partial Closure: Information re Heating February 25th2019
Many thanks to all those parents who were affected by the partial school closure on Monday. Your understanding was much appreciated.
Why did the school partially close?
Simply put, the school has a series of boilers to heat the different areas of the building. Unfortunately, the boiler feeding the heating in Ashbourne block failed on Monday morning and temperatures fell well below regulation. Despite attempts to get an engineer out immediately, one could not be sent until the afternoon.
Could the children not have simply put their coats on?
Alas, it is not that straight forward. The Education Premises Regulations 1999 / DfEE 0029/200 makes it clear that classroom temperatures must not fall below 18 degrees Celsius. Even when applying standard Health and Safety in the Workplace Regulations, the loss of heating resulted in temperatures well below that allowed. In the Ashbourne block, the coldest room was 12.5 degrees Celsius and the warmest 14.1 degrees Celsius. Whilst we did ask the children to sit in their coats initially, a decision was made to close the rooms affected once it was clear an engineer was not imminent and no short-term change would occur.
It was pointed out to me (in good humour) that the Sun was shining. Indeed it was; temperatures outside were warmer than usual, but this was not the case indoors. Lack of clouds in February is not an indicator of classroom temperature, especially in a Victorian building. The irony was not however lost on me.
Could you not have put the children in other classrooms?
On this occasion no, as a total of 5 classrooms (162 children) were affected. Had the heating failure impacted on a small number of children, this would have been an option. Filling classrooms with of 50+ pupils is neither safe nor conducive to good learning. Had this strategy been employed it would have impacted on all children, not some; let alone breached many safety requirements.
Common sense steps.
As Headteacher I take very seriously the school’s commitment to remain open whenever possible, therefore a decision to close at any level is well considered. We appreciate and understand the impact this has on individuals, however I cannot ride rough shot on regulations and laws – I am legally accountable for my duty of care. What I can do is give as much notice as possible and keep all those affected up to date. I also made the decision to allow siblings to go home from other classes to minimise disruption for those travelling to and from school over longer distances.
Will this happen again?
Inevitably any engineering system can fail on occasion; however, the heating system is now functioning as intended and there are no indications of long-term problems.
Once again, many thanks for your understanding.
Mr Peter Seargent B.Ed (hons), NPQH.