Six-month wait for response to flood-hit Tipton St John Primary School

Firefighters and parents joined children and teachers clearing up Tipton St John primary school on M

Firefighters and parents joined children and teachers clearing up Tipton St John primary school on Monday. Ref sho 15-16 5695. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

Staff and governors at Tipton St John Primary School are calling for action to push forward with long-term plans to move it off a flood zone.

The site was hit again following rain over the Easter holidays, leaving dirty water and mud over its playground and pathway.

Members of the community and firefighters from Sidmouth rallied together for the second time in three months on Monday to clean up the grounds before the children returned to school.

The school reached the last round of the Government’s Priority School Build Programme last February, but was unsuccessful in winning any funding to relocate it above the flood plain.

School governors have submitted a flood risk assessment to be considered by the Department for Education and East Devon MP Hugo Swire has spoken to Lord Nash, Secretary of State for Schools. The school has received no response.

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Colin Butler, executive head of the Otter Valley Federation for Tipton and Feniton, reiterated the threat the school faces if heavy rain was to fall during term-time.

He said: “It’s the 21st century, it is not right that children are in an environment that is such a problem. The amount of time that we lose to this, rather than education, is significant, which makes the results we get even more amazing.”

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Mr Butler thanked volunteers and the fire crew for their efforts to get the school back up and running.

“The problem seems to be definitely getting worse,” he added. “This is already the second time this year we have had to hold a major clear-up. We are just so fortunate to have a community that will keep turning out to help.

“So far we have been extremely lucky and the worst flooding has happened overnight or in the holidays. My greatest concern is that there will be a flooding event during school time and children’s safety could be threatened.”

He added that the wooden premises could only withstand a certain amount of flooding - and the wait for a response from government officials is ‘hard to deal with’.

Mo Mylne, community foundation governor for Tipton St John, added: “As a governor, I am tired of listening to the weather forecast with a dread of hearing ‘heavy rain in the South West’, knowing that will be causing stress to school staff, whether or not it results in flooding. If flooding does occur, as a minimum, we will be relying on the goodwill of the local community and fire brigade to get the grounds and equipment usable again, but could be looking at a lower site out of action for a prolonged period and serious disruption to children’s education.”

County councillor Claire Wright said: “Lord Nash has failed to even reply to the school’s funding request for a new building out of the flood zone, which was received [by Lord Nash] at least six months ago.

“At the very least, this is disrespectful to the children. I very much hope we hear from him soon on this urgent issue.”

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