Barking primary renting rooms at other schools after serious building faults found

St Margaret's Church of England Primary School. Picture: Ken Mears

St Margaret's Church of England Primary School. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A Barking primary is renting classrooms at other schools after surveys exposed serious dangers with its building.

St Margaret’s Church of England Primary School in North Street was found to be “defective” and “without relevant documentation”, according to works commissioned before April last year.

Year 3, 4 and 5 pupils are being taught in facilities loaned from nearby Northbury and Gascoigne schools.

Parents received a text from St Margaret’s on February 6, warning Year 5 would be closed the following day “due to health and safety concerns”.

Nearly three weeks later, they were sent a letter from interim headteacher David Huntingford, who described “investigations” into the building relating to “fire safety and structural issues”.

Another letter, signed by Mr Huntingford and sent last week, gave more detail.

In it, he said an independent survey carried out a structural engineer and staff at Synergy Construction and Property Consultants LLP raised “a number of concerns which required intrusive investigations to take place”.

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“It was a recommendation not to have the children on site at this time,” according to the letter, dated Wednesday, March 14.

The school then appointed Hampshire-based Inertia Structures Ltd for surveys.

Their report noted “key concerns” with work needed to the doors, walls, windows and – “most importantly” – the roof, read the letter.

Mr Huntingford added that the school sought tenders from “reputable companies” to make the building safe, and that pupils in Years 3 to 5 would remain off site “until at least May half term”.

Genesis Education Trust, which St Margaret’s formed in April 2017 with federated schools St Mary’s and St Saviour’s, both in Walthamstow, said firm Synergy was currently drawing up plans to fix the building.

The trust said building works were commissioned before the academy trust was set up and that the school is working with council support.

Asked whether children were allowed in the building following the first critical reports, Genesis at first did not address the question.

Instead, Mr Huntingford said: “Quality of teaching and learning and safety remains our key priority for students.”

After this article was published, a spokesman told the Post pupils were taken out “as soon as” problems were found.

A request for comment to Northbury went unanswered, with Gascoigne headteacher Jo Preston telling the Post to contact a council spokesman. The council declined to comment.