SFG College: Delay to school re-opening after half term due to safety issues

News / Fri 20th Oct 2023 at 03:23pm

SIR FREDERICK Gibberd College will not be re-opening after the half term break due to on-going safety issues.

The chief executive of BMAT, Helena Mills has written to parents to explain the reasons and the possible challenges going into November and beyond.

Mrs Mills said: “We have reluctantly had to take the tough decision to delay the start of the second half of the school term after the autumn break. School shall now no longer be starting back on Monday 30 October. We shall be able to update you towards the end of next week as to when teaching will resume.

We are sorry we have had to make this decision, but we have very little choice. It will allow the DFE time to improve and upgrade the current facilities on-site at Sir Frederick Gibberd College so they are ready for the winter months. Re-opening to face-to-face education is dependent on the DfE making the necessary enhancements to the temporary buildings so that students are safe and comfortable in school.

We do not take this decision lightly, but it is clear that the safeguarding and welfare of the children must come first. The Department for Education (DFE) is ultimately responsible for the buildings onsite, and we are working extremely hard with them to make sure facilities at SFG are safe and suitable for face-to-face education to resume.

The teaching arrangements of our Year 7’s will not be changing, and they will resume term as planned at Mark Hall Academy on Monday 30 October. In addition, pupils in Years 8-11 can access work via EduCake and MathsWatch.

Furthermore, we have been advised that throughout the winter, in order to ensure the safety of pupils and staff, there might have to be days where learning will have to switch online. This decision to switch to online teaching will only be made when it is absolutely necessary to do so, and BMAT staff are working to draw up plans to ensure the best possible education is delivered, and students welfare is safeguarded. We will ensure all pupils have laptops.

I encourage any parent who has not yet responded to the school about access to a laptop and Wi-Fi, to do so as soon as possible. Should you have any questions email: [email protected] and use the form linked below for laptop requests:

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank sincerely all the SFG teaching staff who continue to work outstandingly hard under incredibly difficult conditions, and your continued support through what is an undeniably hard time for the school community. We continue to liaise with the DFE to ensure everything possible is being done for SFG. All I can say is I hope we can all do our best to support each other while the situation is sorted out”.

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23 Comments for SFG College: Delay to school re-opening after half term due to safety issues:

Mike W
2023-10-20 15:40:59

If feel sorry for the staff as it is not their fault. The Dept of Education and whoever are responsible should hang their heads in shame. Its a bad enough that schools are having to shut because of the RAAC issue. But this is a brand new school. Outrageous!

Michael Price
2023-10-20 16:22:05

Mike W. SFG School is NOT closed due to RAAC, but due to unsatisfactory modular construction. What an utter, disgraceful and inexcusable chaotic situation caused by total lack of inspections during construction. No doubt financial persuasions were involved.

Mark Ingall
2023-10-20 17:01:37

How on earth are working parents supposed to manage when they don't know when the school will open after the holidays and what days the school will go to online learning?

2023-10-20 18:03:40

I don't understand how this has been allowed to get this bad. These pupils need their education. No matter which way you look at it nothing is an acceptable alternative. Can the empty Smithkline building be used during this time? Or how about for the new hospital?

Mike W
2023-10-20 18:23:15

Michael. Yes, my comment may not have been clear, but I'm aware that the problem at SFG school isn't because of RAAC. Its because of incompetence! Shocking!

2023-10-20 19:10:54

Seems to me another load of lies year 7 parent worried how long my child will attend a real school and settle when will things be normal when my child is year 10/11 honest answers would be a start

Tony Edwards
2023-10-20 20:05:46

Where is the statement by Robert Halfon he is after all a Minster of State in the DFE? His silence is deafening! What went wrong? Why are these temporary structures not "safe and comfortable" or "ready for the winter months"? The temporary buildings were only erected approximately six weeks ago. Surely even the DFE would have known that winter follows autumn and it gets windy, wet and cold in winter (National Curriculum Key Stages 1 and 2). There are no excuses! The pressure on the school staff, pupils and their families is simply unacceptable The Government must take responsibility, apologise and rapidly fix the problems!

2023-10-20 20:06:07

My Nephew attends and is in year 11. He has ADHD and needs help via sends. Finally we have been able to get him engaged since a visit to Harlow College where he is now focused on getting his grades. However, e learning is a problem to him. Just as we had hope the carpet is pulled from under us. Where is Robert Halfon? The letter puts the blame solely at the feet of the DFE which he is a minister. You are ruining children’s lives. This needs to be sorted and quickly. My question is directly to Mr Halfon… what are you going to do? We want to know now. Mr Halfon talk to us and don’t destroy the chances in this final year 11. I demand a response. We’re waiting……..

2023-10-20 20:17:32

In addition, would it not make more sense for year 11 to be educated at Mark Hall as it’s a crucial year? In a safe environment where they can get maximum attention and focus on their grades? Also any year 11 child that needs special help can receive this especially if they have special circumstances to achieve this. No disrespect to year 7 but surely it’s common sense. Come on Mr Halfon get this sorted. You should be totally ashamed of yourself. We want answers………. Come on speak….

2023-10-20 20:18:09

In addition, would it not make more sense for year 11 to be educated at Mark Hall as it’s a crucial year? In a safe environment where they can get maximum attention and focus on their grades? Also any year 11 child that needs special help can receive this especially if they have special circumstances to achieve this. No disrespect to year 7 but surely it’s common sense. Come on Mr Halfon get this sorted. You should be totally ashamed of yourself. We want answers………. Come on speak……

Year 7 parent
2023-10-20 20:49:54

Feel sorry for all students at SFG my child is in year 7 and I feel that year are the forgotten lot if they wanted to minimise transition from year 6 to year 7 putting them in a different school at the back of mark hall not feeling apart of a school, or should I say the forgotten year my daughter went to early morning prep for netball & music on different days only to be there for 10 minutes because having to get the coach the teachers are trying their best but for a year 7 parent this isn’t good enough xx oh and not a bloody word or a meeting with our MP Robert halfron I’m sure he only pops up for a photo opportunity from a very unhappy year 7 parent

2023-10-20 21:01:08

Here, here year 7 parent. The teachers and staff are not to blame. Come on Halfon where are you? Let’s hear what you have to say. Now you you impacting on our next generations education. Grow a pair and speak up. A united front is now needed from all those children and parents effected by this. So comment on here “we agree” if you want to hear from the local MP! Let’s hear you you………”we agree” and maybe we will hear from the MP!!!!

2023-10-20 21:12:16

Agreed here. Speak up

2023-10-20 21:17:27


2023-10-20 21:18:06

Absolutely agree

Julie Longman
2023-10-20 21:39:14

Absolutely agree. This is outrageous. Haven't families got enough to worry about without the additional stressors of not knowing whether our children are going to school or not. I expect it must be difficult to empathise if you do not have children of your own. We maybe greeted with a wall of silence by the DoE and it's ministers and representatives now therefore we need to make our voices heard at the general election of 2024

Lexie jones
2023-10-21 03:58:58

Yea abouslote shambles if you ask me its disgusting how these poor children are being pulled back wards and forwards and where is this so called Mr halflon useless he is

Concerned Parent
2023-10-21 14:36:28

The year 10 have had it really rough. Home taught for year 6, then 1 year in Burnt Mill in temporary accommodation (Porta Cabins year 7). Now disruption at the start of year 10. So year 10 and 11 are in a bad place. Bet the DFE won't take this into consideration come exam time. It Is very likely that exam grades will drop due to all the disruption, which is a big concern as a parent. Consideration should be put into place to suspend any further year intakes until the issues are resolved completely. To reiterate also where is that waste of space MP Haflon (or Teflon as known locally), no photo opportunity no show? I agree that years 10 and 11, plus 6th form should be in proper schools within BMAT, as these need to be using proper facilities in the run up to exams. I aslo feel for any SEN students that get anxious when not in a constant stable routine.

2023-10-21 19:55:06

Well said Phil 👏 year 11’s should be taught at Mark Hall too. It’s a crucial year for them and as you say not everyone can learn at home but need face to face. How has it got to this….a brand new school??? Someone needs to answer questions

Another concerned parent
2023-10-22 21:41:50

Concerned parent I also have a child in year 10. I know it is not the teachers fault but I do feel that maybe online learning until the issues are resolved, I know online is no where near as good as face to face but I also think the constant change of how they are learning is far worse. There is plenty of community buildings around can’t the DofE look into these

Luke Burton
2023-10-23 09:24:31

Meanwhile on another YourHarlow article published today, Mr Halfon is celebrating and enjoying himself at the local fee-paying school while state schools crumble. It's clear he only values the lives of those who are able to afford private school fees. Do not forget that Halfon is a Minister of State at the Department for Education. That's his policy now - to celebrate fee-paying schools at the expense of state schools.

Robert Furber
2023-10-23 14:42:32

I find it astonishing that a man like Robert Halfon who has devoted himself to improving and expanding tertiary education is silent about the flip flopping of his Department’s assurances and work. The pupils deserve some immediate attention not the sulvinley ( spell ) ‘head down’ wish it would go away type of ministerial ‘No comment’. Do Tory MPs only comment on shallow photo opportunities not in the injustices being handed out to their constituent’s children?? Do you fight for Harlow or yourself Robert now you have regained ministerial office???

Y10 Student
2023-10-24 22:55:15

Thought it might be interesting to hear a student’s point of view. I’m in Year 10 at SFG, so I was at the Burnt Mill site for the first year. I was only able to enjoy an actual school building for 2 years, and being back in temporary builds feels like it should be a massive set back, but I think our community as a school has kept it stable. I’m honestly so grateful for all of my teachers and being able to continue like normal, and especially grateful to Miss Conlon. I’m usually not a huge fan of her - I think the school policy is a bit too strict, but then again, when is a student going to actually like the rules of a school - but its so obvious that she’s working hard to help us, and that she doesn’t want to let go of what she’s built. After reading some of the comments, I’ve noticed a lot of remarks about Robert Halfon, and I’m disappointed in our MP, since he has shown little to none support. I really think he ought to take his time to ask both teachers, students, and parents in the SFG community what he can do to help, therefore actually getting involved.

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