Tipton St John school 'sees no future in flood risk village'

Sidmouth firefighters helped cleaning the playground at Tipton primary school. Ref sho 0511-01-16SH.

Firefighters helped to clean the playground at Tipton School when it flooded in 2020. - Credit: Archant

Ottery St Mary town councillors were updated on the ‘sorry state’ of Tipton St John Primary School at the full council meeting last night (August 1). 

It follows last month's news that the school had, once again, missed out on funding from the Government's Schools Rebuilding Programme.

Cllr Lisette Johnston said she and Cllr Jess Bailey met with the school governors and toured the site, finding the school in a ‘sorry state’.

The school governors told the councillors: ‘We aren't coping well at all with the floods, and can't see a future for the school in Tipton St John. This would mean relocating and merging with nearby Ottery St Mary Primary School.’ 

The land Tipton St John School is on is owned by Devon County Council, allocated for education premises, so if the school moved to Ottery St Mary, the land of the old school would have to still be used for education purposes.  

Cllr Johnston said: “We met with governors there and basically, we had a tour of the school and just looked around to see the state of the damp and how they are not coping well with the flooding and what was going to happen. 

“It was quite difficult to see the situation that they're in and I think that having spoken to them I got the sense that they would very much like to move to Ottery. 

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“We haven't got a working group anymore, and I can't see how we can move forward with them because they don’t seem to have any other option other than moving to Ottery.” 

For many years Tipton Primary was automatically excluded from the Government’s Schools Rebuilding Programme because flood risk was not included in the funding criteria. Instead, the decision-makers prioritised the schools whose buildings were in the poorest condition

But after a public consultation last year, the Government accepted that other factors could be taken into consideration, including significant flood risk that poses a health and safety issue.

However, when the latest round of School Rebuilding Programme funding was announced in July, Tipton Primary was not on the list.

The school's flood risk is being assessed by the Department for Education during the summer holiday.