Sir Frederick Gibberd College: Hopes of starting on Wednesday dashed as vital safety checks continue

News / Tue 12th Sep 2023 at 04:28pm

THE start of term for Sir Frederick Gibberd College (SFG) students has been delayed again.

Year 8 to 11 students were hoping to get into their new temporary classrooms on Tendring Road but once again a late afternoon letter to parents has left parents, carers and children disappointed once more.

All previous correspondence has always been qualified with “hope to”, “aiming” etc in case there were further delays and sure enough, there are forced to delay re-opening again.

In a letter seen by YH, chef executive of BMAT, Helena Mills and headteacher, Dee Conlon have explained that “the Department for Education (DFE) technical team are here (at SFG College) , together with Technical Advisers and our own in-house team, conducting very important regulatory checks in relation to health and safety.

“These are a legal requirement to ensure the facilities are safe and meet all the relevant standards. They must be complied with, for very good reasons.

While this process is progressing well, it is not yet complete. This means the school will not be open for Years 8-11 tomorrow, Wednesday 13th September. I am sorry about this.

“We are still very hopeful it will open this week, but I am advised by the DFE and our contractors that it is possible re-opening could be as late as Monday 18th.

“All I can do is be fully transparent and ask for your patience and understanding while we continue to proceed at pace to re-open the school. Please be assured everybody is working very hard to achieve that as soon as possible and we are deeply aware of the impact on you all and our pupils.

“We will keep you informed in coming days, as we know more”.

More follows.

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5 Comments for Sir Frederick Gibberd College: Hopes of starting on Wednesday dashed as vital safety checks continue:

2023-09-12 16:58:50

Yet again I'm left scrabbling for childcare, as Halfon's DfE make yet another last minute change to my child's return date. Why has this been so last minute?

David Forman
2023-09-12 17:27:26

I am sure that Mark would want to be certain that any temporary structures are safe to use, especially as autumn is upon us, as does BMAT. My experience of inspection & testing is that as defects are discovered the sample rate has to be increased which in turn uncovers more defects leading to delays.

2023-09-12 17:55:33

You are of course right David, however its a shame (perhaps scandalous is more appropriate ) that Mr Halfon and the DfE did not apply such rigour to signing off the structural integrity of the newly built school in the first place, or indeed in the selection of a competent building contractor ( the architect having flagged the concern by resigning!!). I sincerely hope the school can get up and running as best as it can soon, no thanks to Mr Halfon or his inept government.

2023-09-12 19:54:06

David, of course I want the temporary buildings properly safety checked, but I also want as much notice to changes in childcare as possible. An inspection team if this size with these skills doesn't just turn up. It takes several days to organise. The team will know how long this sort of inspection takes. So when the team was booked parents could have been told that the return date had slipped giving us more time to make arrangements. It's all so very last minute, that's what is unacceptable.

David Forman
2023-09-13 07:40:18

Mark, the inspection team will have a rough idea how long the inspection will take, but this is not an inspection they will have encountered on a regular basis. I know from experience of inspecting secondary schools, factories and hotels for electrical safety that estimates are just that and actual time frames can be shorter or longer than planned.

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