Teachers raise funds to remove asbestos….

PAY-Ash-Lea-special-school-mainAccording to the Mirror, teachers at a run-down school have launched a charity website to raise £1million after the Government refused funding to improve facilities.

Children at Ash Lea school in Cotgrave, Notts, are taught in asbestos-riddled classrooms which should have been demolished a decade ago.

The special school is still rated as “good” by education inspectors despite not having wheelchair access or toilets fit for purpose.

Teachers have complained there are also no cooking rooms, IT facilities or science labs for pupils.

The school hall does not have doors wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and some lessons are taught in the corridors.

Spending plans to upgrade the site were rejected after the Ministry of Education said the school is in a “reasonable state of repair”.

Staffs and parents have now launched a fundraising drive to save their school – which they say has been abandoned by the Government.

Headteacher Dawn Wigley said the online donation page was a “last resort” to give the pupils a proper education.

“Our main buildings are not really fit for purpose because there are no wheelchair facilities and the ceiling has asbestos in it,” she said.

“Schools should not have to appeal for money to buy hoists for children that need them or make the toilets acceptable for basic use.

“Raising £1 million is just the tip of the iceberg for what we need but it will cover the basics.

“Setting up the donation page is our last resort because we simply have to raise the money for the sake of our pupils.

“The children here have needs that are so complex and challenging that the authority has not kept up and we are left just doing what we can.

“The truth is that the children here deserve better than what they have got.”

The school hoped it would be granted a new build as part of the Government’s priority school building programme.

But their bid was thrown out because the authorities said it was in a “reasonable state of repair”.

Ash Lea School has 79 pupils, aged between three and 19, with a range of disabilities and learning difficulties.

It has ten basic classrooms – not designed for children with special needs – with six of them outside in temporary buildings.

The school was awarded an excellent Ofsted rating in 2002 but lost it due to accommodation which did not meet the needs of all pupils.

Ms Wigley added: “We have three temporary classrooms which were supposed to have a lifespan of five years and they have now been here about 15 years.

“We applied for a complete rebuild to the Government but we were not successful and the council says it just doesn’t have the money to help.”

Parent Kerry Pine, 35, said: “I find it really disappointing that the council cannot do more to help and it has come down to fundraising.”

Fellow mum Tess Nowicki added: “Any changes the school needs should be funded by Government but that isn’t what is happening.

“There is such a big need because some of the children have some huge physical disabilities and struggle for space with their equipment.”

Matthew Rooney, from Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We submitted an application on behalf of Ash Lea for a new building to the Department for Education.

“However, because the fabric of the building is in a reasonable state of repair, we were unsuccessful in our bid.

“We have earmarked a significant amount of money to replace the mobile classrooms at Ash Lea School.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Funding for the priority school building programme is targeted where it is needed the most and according to the size and condition of individual school blocks.”

ALS are trusted providers of asbestos management including the surveying, identification and analysis of asbestos containing materials to the education sector and are the only SafetyMark approved asbestos consultants. For more information on asbestos in schools, please visit the Asbestos in Schools section of our website.

Envex Health Safety and Risk Consultants (part of RSA Environmental Health)
Unit 6 Blotts Barn,
Brooks Road,
Tel: +44(0)1933 626444
Email: enquiries@envexconsultants.co.uk
ALS-Envex is a wholly owned subsidiary company of PHSC PLC
Copyright © RSA-Envex 2018