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Staff and pupils stranded abroad after volcano eruption

PUBLISHED: 11:58 22 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:56 07 September 2010

CHILDREN and teachers across the borough enjoyed an enforced extension to their Easter holidays courtesy of an Icelandic volcano. Around 170 staff from across Haringey s schools were stranded across the globe following the clo

Joanna Lowy & Rhiannon Evans

CHILDREN and teachers across the borough enjoyed an enforced extension to their Easter holidays courtesy of an Icelandic volcano.

Around 170 staff from across Haringey's schools were stranded across the globe following the closure of British airspace by volcanic ash spouting from Eyjafjallajökull, as well as hundreds of pupils.

Headteachers at two local primaries - Coleridge in Crouch End and Campsbourne in Hornsey - were stranded abroad, missing the beginning of term.

The worst hit senior school was Alexandra Park, which had around 10 per cent, or a dozen, of its teaching staff missing, forcing it to bring in rolling class closures.

Pupils in Year 9 were asked to stay at home on Monday, Year 8 on Tuesday and Year 7 on Wednesday, in a bid to cope with the lack of teaching staff, who were stranded in several places ranging from China to the USA.

Headteacher Michael McKenzie said the school was "managing well". "The school is functioning as best as can be expected and are mucking in well together," he added.

Highgate Wood School had 14 teachers missing and Hornsey School for Girls had missing 15, but both schools remained fully open. Fortismere lost around 20 teaching staff to the crisis, but was more affected by the closure of the school's south wing by the discovery of asbestos.

Headteacher at Coleridge Shirley Boffey, herself stranded in America said: "In common with many schools across the UK, Coleridge primary has pupils and teachers affected caused by the volcano in Iceland. The school has 59 pupils and five teachers stranded abroad."

Writing from Canada headteacher at Campsbourne Angela Ryan said: "There are approximately 30 children who have not returned from travelling aboard over the spring break.

"I am in touch with the school via emails and phone calls and have plenty of paperwork to get on with." She added that children stranded abroad can visit the school website for suggested activities to keep them busy.

Other primary schools who were lacking staff following the grounding of flights included Muswell Hill Primary, Our Lady of Muswell, Rhodes Avenue and St James CE Primary in Muswell Hill.

Administrator at Coldfall Primary School Rita Bartlett said: "We've certainly got quite a few children off. Over 30 families have been in contact, but there are more off as well. We've also got five teachers off, but we've been able to cover their absences.

"The number of teachers missing is limited, and we're carrying on, but obviously the children's education is going to be affected the longer they're away - some of them might not even be able to get back until this weekend.


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