Robert Halfon MP issues statement on new arrangements for SFG College

Education: Secondary / Wed 23rd Aug 2023 at 06:33pm

HARLOW MP Robert Halfon has issued a statement following the announcement of new teaching arrangements for Sir Frederick Gibberd College.

Mr Halfon said: “Since the shocking news was published that Sir Frederick Gibberd College would be closed, I have worked continuously with the school and with the Department for Education to understand what happened, and to establish the next steps and plans for the affected year groups.

This afternoon, I met again with officials in the Department and the school, and I am pleased to share further information and updates for the affected pupils, families and wider school community.

  1. Year 7 pupils will be placed in Mark Hall Academy from the start of the school term on 6th September. A free bus service from the Sir Frederick Gibberd site will be provided. 
  2. Sixth Form pupils will be placed in BMAT STEM.
  3. Years 8, 9, 10 and 11 pupils will be placed in temporary accommodation, similar to professional exhibition structures. These will be equipped with a full suite of classrooms, windows, carpeted floors, fully-functional IT, furniture and all the required educational resources. Toilets, catering, and a sports space will also be provided. Construction of these will begin imminently with pupils expected to return to them from 11th September.
  4. Longer-term temporary classrooms will also be built swiftly and are expected to open for pupils by the end of the Autumn Term, if not sooner. 
  5. For children with special educational needs, the Trust and the school are contacting parents directly to discuss the additional requirements which will be established for their children. If you have not yet been contacted, please do reach out to the school directly. 
  6. A number of parents have also contacted me about the Greenwell school site. Although Caledonian Modular was involved in the initial planning, their engagement did not even reach the final design stages and a new firm has since taken over. As already planned, the temporary site for Greenwell will open this September (on Commonside Road), with the new site on Tendring Road due to open in September 2025.

“Late last week, the Department received the final report from two engineering firms commissioned to investigate the building structure. After considering the findings of the reports, the results and the decision to close the school were communicated to Sir Frederick Gibberd on Friday 18th August. The Department is currently conducting further investigations to decide whether to repair, or to rebuild the school, and will also be investigating all aspects as to what happened, as well as the potential for reclaiming the costs from parties who are involved. 

I know this is a deeply worrying time for parents and for the school community. Like myself, I know everyone is responding at pace to prioritise the return of school pupils. These are early details, and the school has sent more detailed information to parents this evening.

I would like to thank again, the incredible Headteacher, teaching and support staff at the Sir Frederick Gibberd College and BMAT Education Trust who are continuing to go above and beyond to ensure that clarity and support is provided to parents as quickly as possible.

“I will be holding a Special Surgery Meeting for parents affected by the College closure on Thursday 24th August. From 4.30-5.30pm, I will host a Town-Hall Zoom Call, and from 5.30-6.30pm, I will be holding an in-person surgery. For any parents wishing to attend either of these sessions, please do contact me directly at [email protected] in order to receive the zoom link, or the location for the in-person event”. 

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21 Comments for Robert Halfon MP issues statement on new arrangements for SFG College:

Cllr James Griggs
2023-08-23 19:33:46

Nice ‘cut and paste’ job of the SFG statement plus a bit of the usual ‘I’ve been working hard blah blah blah’ Laughable were it not so serious and hugely disruptive to everyone involved. Given the previous experience with the two similar schools in Cornwall, why was SFG not closed in April when concerns first arose? Such reckless behaviour is unforgivable. Well done to SFG management for rising so swiftly to an unenviable challenge.

2023-08-23 19:52:57

"Staggering incompetence" about sums it up. ‘Staggering incompetence’: DfE under fire as new school buildings closed https://www.theguardian.com/education/2023/aug/23/staggering-incompetence-dfe-under-fire-new-school-buildings-closed "The Liberal Democrats’ education spokesperson, Munira Wilson, said: “Parents, staff and pupils at these schools will be horrified at the government’s staggering incompetence. Ministers must apologise to them for putting them in danger, disrupting their start of term and flushing millions of pounds down the drain.”" Not only the schools in Cornwall, Buckton Fields primary school in Northampton, which opened two years ago, was advised not to reopen. There could be at least 15 other schools affected.

Mark Ingall
2023-08-23 20:01:56

It seems that Mr Halfon has eventually been shamed into meeting parents. Readers will note that Labour's Chris Vince had previously arranged to meet, talk to parents and share information when Mr Halfon was nowhere to be seen. Mr Halfon's smug comment in this article that he is pleased to announce measures to fix a mess that never should have been made in the first place speaks volumes.

2023-08-23 20:24:54

It’s strange he doesn’t mention this was a conservative built school, like he and the conservatives don’t want the credit they deserve here. There also seems to be a lack of a sincere apology, yet he is taking all the credit for trying to fix the issue.

Luke Burton
2023-08-23 20:51:48

Why did you (i.e. the government in which you are a Minister of State in) put innocent children inside a ticking time bomb? What did they do to you, Mr Halfon to deserve this?

Luke Burton
2023-08-23 20:53:44

You are a Minister in the Department for Education. No fan of Labour's messaging, but quite frankly, if the people of Harlow elect you back in despite putting innocent Harlow children inside a crumbling building I'd be pretty disgusted.

2023-08-23 20:59:06

I find this completely rubbish. How did they not close it in April like the two other schools? It'll be more worse for the students if they're in a temporary accommodation. Also, the fact that they're probably the only school in England that opens for students that late in September. Shameful.

Mike O
2023-08-23 23:27:05

I feel really sorry for the children and the families who will be affected by this. And the staff too who are no way to blame for this awful situation. As for Robert Halfon, the Department for Education and the Government - I have always said that cuts have consequences, and this Government have made so many cuts to the education budget (as well as everything else) that its no surprise that corners were cut when this school was built. Private schools get tax cuts because they are apparently classed as "having charitable status"; while state schools have faced "the worst cuts in a generation". Do you really honestly think that this Government and its Ministers really care about our children?? Disgusting! See the following link https://metro.co.uk/.../eton-college-gets-80-tax-break.../

2023-08-24 06:47:25

Same old labour nonsense accusing the Tories again ! It’s terrible what’s happened but this isn’t Robert Halfons fault ! Labour time and time again moan and accuse - but they need to stop and look at their own track record ! We would be a disaster under their leadership

2023-08-24 07:28:07

Well done for a quick short time solution- stop moaning, free transport laid on, building a temporary build school in meantime, blame the naff builders that had mucked up other projects in uk

Matthew Saggers
2023-08-24 08:03:47

Mark Ingall, meet with parents? Sorry my invite must have got lost or is it only for the select group? James Griggs I think the term is called joint statement so that everyone is saying the same message to reach as many as possible as the only people who really count at the moment in time is the support staff, hard working teachers, parents and the children. There is a lot of work being done day and night to ensure that as the children have minimal disruption and that everyone pulls together for the children, I suggest that you put down you keyboard and pick up the phone and ask how can I help . Happy to open up the can on local planning controls etc and who was overseeing that but the child education is #1 here and that's all that counts.

2023-08-24 08:07:16

This issue stem from self regulation building control, and the total lack of supervision during construction. Who checked the structural engineers details? Who checked the modules manufactured off site? Who checked the on site construction and assembly? There are now 4 schools around the country that have now come to light as not fit for purpose, I understand that three have been or are about to be demolished. Building control needs to be managed by the LA as it was prior to self certification. Self certification is also a reason that the house building industry is turning out such poor quality homes and has been for the last 30 years. It begs the question as to how good building control has been during the self certification time?

Kim Oconnor
2023-08-24 09:08:07

The last bit of your conversation is spot on Alan.

Kim Oconnor
2023-08-24 09:15:50

Mr halfon, I know you never comment on your own forum... Bit you should be making children with learning disabilities, top of your priorities, because any disruption to theses children s, routine s ,is very unsettling to them... .. You haven't mentioned this..

2023-08-24 11:49:31

As these buildings are not fit for purpose it is now becoming abundantly clearer neither is our local mp. This man has only ever had one thing on his tiny little mind and that is how much he can benefit from others with as little as possible personal input from himself. I already can sense a near future photo shoot where he has crawled out of a dark hole and states how well he has done. The good people of harlow have seen this stunt many times now and have become aware of your infantile tactics. HALFON GO NOW

2023-08-24 12:08:44

Kim O'Connor, please go back to school and educate yourself or stop posting on these sites, when you clearly cannot spell and your grammar is seriously lacking

2023-08-24 12:49:21

Kim O'Connor, double check point 5. It says that they are speaking to parents of children with SEND directly. They will be looked after xx

Kim Oconnor
2023-08-24 16:58:44

Maz, and mysa,,,, I all ready know of one parent who has not been informed... and as for my spelling, its not the best, but I can assure you I'm very well educated. You should not believe every thing you read my dears.

Cllr James Griggs
2023-08-24 17:36:20

Poor Matthew Saggers, jumping in with both feet when you haven’t bothered to establish the facts. I’m happy to stand on my record of work for and within the community, I take no lectures from you on this. Given your mistakes today you’d serve your community and your party better if you went nowhere near a keyboard. Nowhere in his cut and paste job does your puppet master Mr Halfon refer to a joint statement, it’s a clear attempt to mislead and make it look like he’s leading the charge to resolve the mess caused by the failures of the Tory Government and his own department. As for your assertions made elsewhere regarding building control, you’re going to have a very large serving of egg on your face when you realise you’re talking utter rubbish. The Tories can attempt to divert the blame all they like but the truth will not escape anyone other than the most deluded. Lives have been recklessly put a risk and £millions have been wasted with more waste to come from 13 years of failure at national level which is now being echoed at local level by your party who, yet again, know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

2023-08-24 18:39:59

I notice that Mr Halfon has not mentioned this in his twitter feed. Surely this would be a way of communicating with his constituency on a very important issue in the Town. Or maybe he saves that for government business and is avoiding being publicly associated with the disaster presided over by the DfE which he is a minister for. Of course I may be cynical.

2023-09-12 16:37:40

An hour ago Children told they cannot start back tomorrow,, new date Monday 18th...what a farce....

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