Quality And Safety Concerns Over New School Building

The amphitheatre collapsed shortly after the opening of the building in 2011

The amphitheatre collapsed shortly after the opening of the building in 2011

The new Five Islands School is “a poor quality building.” That’s how minutes from a governors’ meeting describe the £14m project, which was opened in Autumn 2011.

Governors heard concerns about the quality and safety of the site at the last school Finance Committee meeting, during which former Acting Head Teacher Liz Duffy Griffiths highlighted several problems, including poor design, uneven paving and the state of the playing field.

They also received a fault list that included nine health and safety-related issues such as gas leaks and unsafe shelving, both of which have now been rectified.

Chair of Governors, Ben Julian, said two years after opening, the school is still going through a snagging process with the contractors.

The School Project Board, led by the Council and with representatives from the school, community and diocese, is urgently trying to sign off the build and complete the process, but the snags are holding this up, says Ben.

He added that the governors want to be sure they take over a building that conforms to specifications and is fit for purpose, because once it’s signed off, running costs and maintenance will be their responsibility.

Ben says the health and safety concerns are “fairly mundane,” such as the poor state and lack of lighting in the Nowhere car park, missing lights in roof spaces and rubber flooring in the nursery area breaking up.

The gas leak was very minor, he says, but obviously potentially serious and was dealt with as a matter of urgency.

The other issues are being pursued by the project manager with the contractor, Kier, and are expected to be resolved fairly quickly.

Since opening in September 2011, the school has experienced a number of problems, including subsidence and the collapse of the amphitheatre. The playing field was also unusable because of the uneven surface.

A spokesperson for Kier says they haven’t received a copy of the report submitted to the governors so are not in a position to comment at the moment.

We also contacted the Council on Friday to ask when the building would be signed off and what they were doing to fix the problems. They promised a reply by Monday but it never came.

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