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Council 'abandoned' school devastated by fire

PUBLISHED: 12:55 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:52 07 September 2010

Parents and teachers at Rosary School

Parents and teachers at Rosary School

Susanna Wilkey CHILDREN at a Hampstead school are being denied a proper education because Camden Council has abandoned them, say parents, teachers and governors. Rosary Catholic Primary School on Haverstock Hill was hit by fire last summer and 49 receptio

Susanna Wilkey

CHILDREN at a Hampstead school are being denied a proper education because Camden Council has abandoned them, say parents, teachers and governors.

Rosary Catholic Primary School on Haverstock Hill was hit by fire last summer and 49 reception pupils have since been forced to learn in cramped conditions in a portable cabin which does not meet legal requirements.

Headteacher Isobel Gaffney, together with parents and governors, says the school has been ignored by the council's education bosses who will not commit to funding new facilities.

"We cannot sit back and let time tick by," she said. "It is worrying and frustrating because we need to know. The children are lovely and deserve the best.

"We have done everything we can and all the plans are ready. We just need funding."

Two reception classrooms, a book room, a special needs room and a food servery for the nursery burned down last July.

Special needs has moved to the school's library, denying the rest of the school full access.

The reception has moved into the portable cabin and the book room and kitchen have both moved into a shed. All 49 reception children have to use just three toilets.

Parent-governor Gigi Rosenberg said: "We do not want a new building, we need a new one. We feel like we have been scraped under the carpet.

"It is unacceptable for us not to be given any type of funding. Our children are being denied a proper education with proper space and a proper environment.

"We are an inner city school and many of these children do not have gardens and we have lost so much playground space because of the portable cabin that they do not have anywhere to run around and play."

The school is begging Camden Council to include them in the first wave of the government's £60million Primary Strategy for Change (PSC) funding.

But a council spokeswoman said: "Whilst we understand the fire has created a more immediate need for building improvements at Rosary, seven Camden schools have already been chosen to receive the first few years of funding from the Primary Capital Programme.

"The council understands it has been a difficult time for parents, teachers and pupils and there will be further opportunities for discussion between the council, the diocese and the school in the near future."

The rebuild would cost around £2million, almost half of which has been secured from other sources including £500,000 from the diocese.

In March, when the insurance runs out, the portable cabin will cost the school £28,000 a year to rent.

Chair of the governors Ray Morris said: "No one from the council has been here since the fire and they have had all our information since September. They have not acknowledged that our needs are very different now."

Jane McGrath, who has two children at the school, said: "We cannot afford to miss out this time because we have lost two classrooms and it will be five years before we get the chance to do it again in the second wave. We feel like we have been abandoned."

The council is set to rubber stamp the seven schools on the first wave of PSC schools on February 24, including the Edith Neville and Frank Barnes merger which is yet to be agreed.


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