School opening delayed

By Ross Findon

Published on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 09:00


JUST WEEKS after the headteacher of a new £32 million school claimed the project was running to schedule, the Isle of Wight Council has admitted it will not be ready on time.

Cowes Enterprise College will not open until the second half of the autumn term, according to a statement issued today (Wednesday). Until then children will be taught in the old school.

Several sources recently contacted the Isle of Wight County Press, concerned the school would not be ready for the start of the school year.

Concerns have been raised that the project, which has been paid for by a government grant, had run out of money, however these were denied by the Isle of Wight Council.

Two weeks ago Mr Russell told the County Press that as far as he was aware the project was running to schedule and the school would be open in time for the new school year.

But an Isle of Wight Council spokesman said today: "It had been hoped the state-of-the-art school would be available for the start of the autumn term but the sustained period of wet weather has affected works on site and pushed the completion date back by a short period.

"Because the move from the adjacent former building to the new facility needs to be done out of term time, the final transfer of equipment and furniture to the new building will be undertaken during the half-term holiday break at the end of October.

"The first day pupils will be taught in the new surroundings will be during the first week after the half-term holiday break. The college will provide information on the final arrangements to all parents by the end of September."

Earlier this week college principal, Jonathan Russell, declined to speak directly to the County Press about the ongoing concerns.

However, in a statement issued via the Isle of Wight Council today, he said: "Both I and my staff fully support the decision of the college trust and governing body not to rush through handover.

"While we and our students are eager to reap the benefits of what will be one of the country’s most outstanding educational environments, this small delay allows us the opportunity to effectively familiarise our students and staff with the new building prior to our full occupation."

Janet Newton, Isle of Wight Council deputy director of schools and education services, said: "We are confident the building will actually be ready to handover in September but we have to plan around a school holiday to transfer all the necessary equipment and furniture. It would cause too much disruption to do this in term time.

"I am sure that most people, given the bad weather, will appreciate the reasons for this small delay. We have managed to keep on schedule in our other main current school rebuild projects – at Haylands Primary School and St Francis and Ventnor – but the complexities and size of the scheme means there have been some unavoidable delays at Cowes."

Rachael Fidler, chair of Cowes Pathfinder Trust, said: "While we are excited about using the college’s new building with its exceptional facilities for business education, performance and community use, this short delay is not surprising given the complexity of the new building and the adverse weather conditions during the spring and early summer."

Alan Wells, chair of the college governing body, said: "We are sure the college staff will manage the delay with no impact upon the education of students and that the time will be effectively used to introduce all to the new building prior to the October handover."


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