School opening delayed

By Ross Findon

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


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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Displaying the last 10 of 11 comments - Show All Comments

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by Stephen Sephton

16th August 2012, at 13:21:37

Teacher, to a great degree he has to do as asked by the Local Authority or face the consequences – but who is truly accountable amongst these, our public servants? How much longer will this Island put up with their inability to deliver any major project successfully on our behalf? They would be unlikely to survive in the private sector.

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by Stephen Sephton

16th August 2012, at 13:18:02

Janet Newton is quite right to say “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.” She is now saying the transfer of all equipment and stock from the old building to the new will occur in the October half term. What she fails to mention is the Local Authority insisted the staff at Cowes pack their departments before the end of last term ready to be moved across during the summer break. Since it is inconceivable that the Local Authority officers did not know 4 weeks ago that they would require at least another 10 weeks to have the new build ready for occupation and teaching, this was an absurd waste of time in order to maintain a public relations façade. Presumably the staff at Cowes will now have to unpack everything again in order to be able teach in a fortnight’s time, then repack it all 6 weeks later.
The deception that has gone on is not the fault of the new Head Teac

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by Alan Bennett

15th August 2012, at 23:05:11

In addition to my comment below; I note Janet Newton blames the weather for the delays in the new Cowes build, but then proudly tries to vindicate the Council by praising the other builds on the Island that were completed on time. So did they get more rain in Cowes than Haylands or Ventnor? Or is it that Pihl were not involved In those projects? Bears thinking about doesn't it.

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by Iain Cross

15th August 2012, at 22:55:47

Please tell me someone will be held to account for this monumental foul up? If you are telling us that the Principle thought his new School was going to be ready, as he stated last week in the CP and now, 7 days later it is a half term behind, is he fit to run this new flagship School? This stinks of cover up and leave the bad news as long as possible. I have also heard of serious problems Pihl have, which I won't mention here, but once again the smooth tongues of the Pathfinder Trust, Mr Russell and the IOW Council will just sit tight and wait for it all to blow over. Meanwhile the students suffer seven weeks of disruption to their learning, how can you teach them in a School that is packed and ready to go? David Web has it right below! when is our Council going to get something right? I know who I will be voting out next year.

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by Sue Tribe

15th August 2012, at 21:24:40

"Both I and my staff fully support the decision of the college trust"

Should we not expect the college principal, Jonathan Russell to be able to speak or write English correctly?

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by Richard Taylor

15th August 2012, at 18:02:00

Schools half finished, roads half surfaced, who in IOWCC monitors the contracts it awards?

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by Alan Bennett

15th August 2012, at 15:49:10

Why does it have to be 2 weeks before the new School was due to open before it is admitted that it will not be ready on time? It has been blindingly obvious for months to everyone that it was a long way from being finished, just by driving by. Any reputable construction company has regular progress meetings on a project of this size and we are supposed to believe that it was not until the 13th August before it was discovered that the School was well behind schedule? Having a delayed opening after three years of anticipation is bad enough, but not telling parents of students until a couple of weeks before the start of the new School year is unforgivable.

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by Jake Gully

15th August 2012, at 15:09:45

Tina - the old school will remain open for the students and after half term (assuming all goes to plan) they will open at the new site.

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by G Day

15th August 2012, at 12:15:13

Judging by the looks of the site another 7 weeks isn't going to help them much - even more so if they can't work in bad weather (this is England after all); and only allowing 7 days to transfer a school full of equipment and resources! They'll be getting all the children to carry stuff across on the first day back after half term. Why don't they just be realistic and say it will be functional in January.

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by Paul Strauss

15th August 2012, at 12:01:45

Will the school give itself detention for being late?

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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