Letter to Editor: Pupils of SFG College let down again

Politics / Sat 14th Oct 2023 at 12:30pm

Dear Editor

CLASSROOMS in tents were provided for most pupils of SFG College when their two year old building was condemned as being unsafe. New year 7 pupils were to be bussed to Mark Hall for a term. This was to be an emergency, temporary measure to last a couple of months only, and I think most parents were satisfied with the arrangements on this basis.

The DfE, where Harlow’s MP, Robert Halfon is a Minister, promised that these very temporary buildings would be replaced with more substantial temporary classrooms in November and that Year 7 would be back on the SFG site by the Autumn half term too. 

Earlier this term, the November date was pushed back until January for Year 7 to return – the school said it would be “less disruptive” to move at the end of term rather than part way through.

Yesterday things were pushed back further. The school confirmed that Year 7 would continue to be bussed to Mark Hall for the rest of the academic year, returning to SFG in September of 2024. Meanwhile the rest of the school’s pupils would remain in the tented classrooms until spring. The move into more permanent temporary classrooms, being delayed until spring and this only if there are no further delays.

There has been no comment on this from Conservative MP and education Minister Mr Halfon, who remains silent on other serious questions. So I will ask again.

Who in the DfE chose to use a company that was not a member of the modular builders trade body to construct a £27 million modular built school?

Did any member of the Conservative party, or their family, friends or donor’s benefit from this contract?

Who signed off the building as being fit for purpose, allowing pupils to attend school in a dangerous building for two years?

And finally, as parents are making their choice.of secondary school, when exactly will pupils be moved out of classrooms in tents into more permanent temporary classrooms and when will reconstruction of SFG begin?

I won’t be holding my breath for an answer, because Mr Halfon has repeatedly ducked these questions.

Yours sincerely

Mark Ingall

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12 Comments for Letter to Editor: Pupils of SFG College let down again:

Mike Price
2023-10-14 14:25:22

I have asked all these questions re what is the actual safety issue but apparently Dept of Education not yet finished their findings (perambulation ?) Proper toilets were promised, but disgusting events toilets on site

2023-10-14 16:55:05

Totally Unacceptable to expect children to work in tents for the winter. Also this is effecting markhall students as they now have less classrooms.

2023-10-14 18:19:08

My daughter is year 7 and this is the first I’ve heard of this

Mark Ingall
2023-10-14 18:45:08

Dolly, you should have received an email from SFG detailing these further delays. All parents should have received one.

Nick Gunning
2023-10-14 20:36:27

Lots of the schools to which they can be bussed are now in the hands of academy trusts- so the chances are that building standards and health and safety, decoration etc have been left out except for areas where the Academy gimmick is on display. Hardly safer than what they left behind. I've seen one or two. Having been a H&S officer there are places I've seen that would definitely taped off until made safe. In one, light switches falling apart for example, at a loo, where no hand dryers or towels are provided- wet hands/mains electricity???

2023-10-14 20:57:50

They are not tents they are heated double glazed and more than likely in better condition than other schools

2023-10-15 07:42:10

Here begs a question, or two, as above... The staff and head are working in extreme conditions, the students even more so. Parents were promised a guided tour, did that happen? certainly not for me as a parent. The November Phase 2, was deferred, and only reported by email at the 11th hour, surely a face-to-face is the better way to conduct things. The following are true: 1) Should BMAT as a Trust be touting for a new year intake for SFG, surely this should all be suspended until rectified? 2) The toilets leave a lot to be desired, and the emptying is to behold, I am told. 3) The generator goes offline. 4) The acoustics is poor when windy and the classes next door are a disturbance. This was questioned at the beginning of this process. Also no heating on at the moment, luckily it has been very mild, but this will change with a vengeance soon. 5) It is unfair on MH students and staff, as well as the new year intake to sustain this long-term. 6) Some half-truths were presented Saturday, at the open day not even held on the site where prospective pupils will be. (see 1 above). 7) Where is Mr Halfon in all this, out for a photo opportunity with a cheesy grin no doubt? Regards

Save Our Schools
2023-10-15 09:30:34

Perhaps hire the Glaxo building that's been mothballed at the Pinnacles and set up schools there? Or the government could buy a large barge another Bibby Stockholm and sail it up the Stort!

2023-10-15 11:51:14

Although none of this affects me but believe me this is shocking and i feel for the parents and their children,but i love the comment from save our schools about the barge. 👍it really made me laugh,great.🤣🤣

2023-10-16 09:14:01

As a parent of s child in yr7 I can say that my child is not suffering at all with the current arrangements. A permanent building for a year in MH is better than a temp building and they are not mixing with the MH students, neither are they disrupting them as the school is not at full capacity so they have the room for the SFG students. I don’t think we can blame the head or teachers as it is completely out of their hands. They too are making the best out of an unfortunate situation and were also at risk working in the SFG building the last two years. I do fully agree that the DFE need to confirm the situation with accommodation going forwards and the temporary buildings need to be sufficient for their learning and the cold weather.

Corroll Diane
2023-10-17 18:09:39

My grandson said it’s absolutely freezing cold and had to wear his gloves all day. He’s feet were so cold he couldn’t wait to get home. They cannot go through winter freezing cold as they cannot concentrate properly.

Diane corroll
2023-10-17 18:10:11

My grandson said it’s absolutely freezing cold and had to wear his gloves all day. He’s feet were so cold he couldn’t wait to get home. They cannot go through winter freezing cold as they cannot concentrate properly.

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