Schools in Somerset and Northamptonshire add to list of modular schools forced to rejig autumn term plans

Three schools built by Caledonian Modular have now been ordered to close by the government over structural safety fears.

The 1,200-place Haygrove School in Bridgewater, Somerset, and the 50-place Buckton Fields Primary School in Northampton are the latest two told to close by the Department of Education.

It comes after the 630-place Sir Frederick Gibberd College in Harlow was told to shut after technical surveys found the school’s main building and sports hall were structurally unsafe.

Buckton Fields school

Buckton Fields Primary School in Northampton

Caledonian built all three schools between 2020 and 2021, with the Harlow and Bridgewater schools built under a £38m deal awarded through the government’s £3bn modular schools framework.

Haygrove School said it had been told to close its main building, which replaced the school’s former two-storey building, after 12 months of engagement with the Department of Education (DfE).

In a statement on the closure, the school said: “Since we first occupied the main building, we have been assured by the DfE that it was safe for our students and staff. 

“However, it is with huge disappointment that we today informed our school community that the DfE has decided, following its surveys, that we are not able to use the main school building until further notice. 

“This means we are in need of alternative arrangements for the new school term in September.”

The school said the DfE had promised to build “high-quality temporary accommodation” on the school site as soon as possible, but had given no clarification on when this would be provided or on long term plans for the main building.

The statement said this could result in a delay to the start of the autumn term, adding: “This is far from an ideal situation and not what our valued colleagues and students deserve.”

Haygrove described its former two-storey school building as “inefficient, difficult to maintain, inaccessible and not able to provide the best environment for learning”.

Facade specialist Wetherby, which worked on the rebuild, said the “new and improved” modular block had allowed the project to be completed while the school remained open and caused “minimal” disruption to students.

Buckton Fields Primary School has also made alternative arrangements for the start of the autumn term, according to the BBC.

Preston Hedges Trust, which operates Buckton Fields Primary, told the broadcaster that pupils would be moved to a space at its school in Pineham Barns until the October half-term.

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The trust’s chief executive, Paul Watson, said: “We were naturally shocked to be told by the Department for Education that we were unable to use the school building at Buckton Fields at the start of this coming new school year.”

He added that a temporary building will be put in place by October while inspections and repairs take place on the existing building.

Sir Frederick Gibberd College has confirmed that its autumn term will start later than planned while staff arrange plans for how teaching will be delivered.

Caledonian Modular went into administration in March 2022 after 60 years of trading with pre-tax losses of £2.8m, and was later purchased by concrete frame specialist JRL Group.