By Bruce Sinclair
SENIOR councillors are expected to back a call for pupils from a fire-ravaged school to continue to be taught at a nearby community hall while their school is rebuilt.
Manorbier Church in Wales VC School and its adjoining school house was severely damaged by a fire on October 11, which broke out in the school roof space.
Pupils and staff were successfully evacuated with no injuries.
Since then, a ‘school from school’ has been successfully set up in Jameston Village Hall, after a brief period of sanctuary at the nearby Buttyland caravan site.
Pembrokeshire County Council’s insurers say the fire was accidentally started while ‘hot works’ were being carried out to renew an adjacent flat roof.
A report for members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting on March 13, says discussions with parents on options for the pupils’ education, which include using other schools in the area have been undertaken.
“The school has occupied the Jameston Community Hall since October 17, and work has focused on minimising the disruption to learners, maintaining education provision, ensuring pupil and staff wellbeing and that proper safeguards are in place.
“In meetings held with parents/carers and the governing body, there has been no appetite for the provision to continue elsewhere, specifically, either St Florence VC School or Tenby VC School.”
Jameston Community Association is keen to continue to support the school, the report states, adding council officers are in the process of negotiating a licence agreement and rent to allow this occupation to continue until the school is rebuilt.
Cabinet members will hear the council’s insurer says that works on the school “should progress as a matter of urgency;” and that a policy excess of £200,000 will need to be met from the council’s insurance reserve.
The report concludes: “The preferred option is to undertake a full reinstatement of the school with a view to returning it to its pre-fire condition.
“Furthermore, and in order to minimise any further disruption to pupils’ learning and wellbeing, it is proposed that the school will continue to operate from Jameston Community Hall until such time as the reinstatement works have been completed.”
It is recommended to Cabinet the school remains at Jameston Community until the rebuilt school is complete.
It also recommends that a feasibility study is undertaken in order to determine approximate costs, with a budget of £25,000 set aside, which will be used in preparation of a business case to formally invite and evaluate a ‘direct award’ tender for a contractor to rebuild the school.
Since the fire, the school has suffered from two break-ins in mid-January and mid-February, intruders also gaining entry to the ‘school house’.