Harlow MP Robert Halfon issues statement over closure of SFG College

News / Mon 21st Aug 2023 at 01:59pm

THE MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon (who is also a minister of state for education) has issued a statement following the news that Sir Frederick Gibberd College has been forced to close due to problems with the structure of the building.

Mr Halfon said: “It is shocking to learn that, following advice from structural engineers and the Department for Education (DfE), the main school building and sports hall block at Sir Frederick Gibberd College must be closed with immediate effect.

“Since being informed of the news a few days ago, I have held meetings with Sir Frederick Gibberd school and the school building team in the Department to understand what has gone on and ensure everything possible is being done to remedy it. I have offered my full support to find a solution which will pose the least amount of disruption to students, families and the teaching and support staff at the school.

“This is an extremely complex situation which will mean that the school will no longer open at the beginning of term. It is important to note that neither Sir Frederick Gibberd nor BMAT Education Trust, bear any responsibility for what has occurred. The Education Department issued advice following a report by technical consultants working for them which identified structural irregularities.

The Government is taking full responsibility for resolving the situation and will fund the rebuild of the school and the temporary measures that BMAT are having to put in place. The DfE will continue to work closely with the school and the Trust throughout this process.

“I offer my full support to the school and the wider community as they tackle the challenges ahead. Our objective must be to restore face-to-face education for all pupils as soon as possible. The school is working with the DfE and with the support of Harlow District Council, and Essex County Council to put in place interim measures, including remote learning and in-person teaching, ahead of students moving into temporary accommodation in the middle of September.

“This interim period will commence as soon as possible after September 6th. The current planning assumption is that all pupils will be back at school, in person, and in temporary facilities, by Monday 18th September.

“I apologise to the students and families who I know, were looking forward to the start of term in a new school. As the situation evolves, I understand the school will be communicating further with parents and will aim to set out a clear plan for the year groups affected later this week.

“This is a very trying time for the whole school community, and I would like to acknowledge the tremendous work of the school staff, who have already gone above and beyond to work at pace with the Department to find solutions to the ongoing situation. I also want to acknowledge the difficult times ahead faced by parents and pupils going forward.

“I offer my heartfelt support and if anyone has any individual issues or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected].”

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13 Comments for Harlow MP Robert Halfon issues statement over closure of SFG College:

2023-08-21 14:31:50

Halfon's apology is pretty meaningless. The start of school in chaos, kids missing out, parents having to urgently find childcare and huge amounts of public money wasted. What I want to know from Mr Halfon is who will be held responsible for this disaster. Ministerial heads should roll.

Bev scriven
2023-08-21 16:31:44

So the school wasn’t built to the required standards, who awarded the contracts and to whom. More government mismanagement or outright corruption.

Alderman Durcan
2023-08-21 17:24:58

Can’t wait to read the politic spin on this disaster. Surely the Harlow Tory leader has to come out and condemn the minister and call for his resignation. Multi million pound failure and all we get is silence. No new hospital and now no new school. No local leadership as the sinking ship of the Tory government is more important that young people education.

James Leppard
2023-08-21 22:58:24

Alderman Durcan, you didn't tender your resignation when you paid £ millions to consultants for failed projects by Harlow Council such as the old Lister House when you headed Regeneration. It may have escaped your attention (as do most things) that Robert Halfon was not a Minister when SFG Academy was built. He has already stated that the DfE will foot the bill. When is Harlow Labour going to foot the bill for all the Harlow taxpayers' monies they wasted on failed projects? Try to set an example, painful as it must be.

2023-08-22 08:48:11

So Halfon is saying they take responsibility for fixing the issue but neglects to say who caused it in the first place. Sure he will come in when it’s rebuilt and try to be the hero. Shocking they have let kids and teachers be in a building they know is unsafe since April.

Kim Oconnor
2023-08-22 09:23:15

James Leppard,,, what exactly is structural irregularities,, as what your calling it......... what has gone wrong....exactly..???

James Leppard
2023-08-22 09:26:52

Kim O'Connor, I have not mentioned anything about 'structural irregularities'. I am not an architect or construction engineer so I, like many others, am not qualified to opine on the technical aspects. I fail to see why you would think otherwise.

Margaret Owen
2023-08-22 09:37:40

So, who was responsible for monitoring the build? Who gave it a completion certificate, Harlow Council or an outsourced body?

2023-08-22 09:42:41

To reply to the above comment, Harlow has been conservative for many many years including 2019. The recent election history for Harlow. CON 2019 General Election Conservative Hold Majority 14,063 Electorate 68,078 Turnout 63.7% CON A simple google search will tell you. I would like to know if there will be an independent inquiry into these failings, also with the cost of living crisis how are parents expected to cover the childcare they now need and also book time off work? will there be a package to cover these costs for parents? The department of Education like to come down heavy on those parents who have an attendance below something like 85% with fines, visits and court proceeding but it seems already they are blaming "a company no longer in business" so no-one can be held accountable. Seems like one rule for us another for them.

Tom Jung
2023-08-22 09:53:06

Here we go again halfon opening his gob without engaging what little brain he has. He states, and i quote, The government is taking full responsibility for resolving the situation and will fund the rebuild of the school. Well excuse me for thinking but surely the cost of this rebuild will come from the already highly over taxed members of the public that had put these clowns in office as the party of low taxation. Some serious investigation must now take place to find out who should be made accountable for this error and the report must be made public with no redaction. This whole episode stinks of backhanders and halfon, in the role of minister, must get to grips with these so called civil service cretins that are constantly wasting public money. This government stinks of corruption and the sooner the election comes the better so that we can get rid of these clowns as in harlows case the only thing on halfons mind is himself as he has no interest in us what so ever unless it is for a photo opportunity. Also, by the way, you labour lot should not get to smug about the forthcoming elections because you will have to follow the party line directed by captain flip flop starmer that has not got a clue about anything and is only where he is today because he is in the pockets of his trade union masters. God help us. What this country needs right now is for someone strong enough to stand up to this woke brigade of weak politicians, like halfon, and to kickstart this country again. Sunak and his tory chums are only in it for what they can gain themselves whilst starmer and co do what the unions tell them do do

Alderman Durcan
2023-08-22 16:28:30

Loving the political spin from JL ,always able to defend the indefensible. If in doubt deflect and avoid. Typical Tory response. Still no statement from the Tory leader of Harlow council but expect a photo opportunity pending. No wonder no one trust politicians.

Anon Anon
2023-08-22 19:59:54

I've worked for the BMAT Trust - corruption and nepotism is rife throughout the leadership at the most senior level. I am not surprised about this news - I know Halfon states that the Trust bear no responsibility for the build of the school, which is fine I guess - but poor leadership breeds poor decisions, perhaps there is a link there somewhere? Mayhap the fact Halfon champions an educational Trust that is corrupt and a terrible place for educators to work is one such link? I think the falling down of their newest build is a fitting metaphor for the poor quality of leadership the Trust has. It's sad really, there are many great kids and teachers that would thrive in schools in Harlow, if only someone can come in and expose the Trust for the damage it is doing to the educational landscape.

2023-09-12 16:34:59

An hour a go Children advised they cannot start back tomorrow,, new date Monday 18th...What a farce,

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