Sunday, 25 Oct 2020

'Devastating' blaze rips through primary school building

A primary school has been destroyed by a ‘devastating’ fire, forcing 300 children to go back to learning from home.

The blaze ripped through the St Mary’s School in Darley Abbey, Derbyshire, in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

Pictures showed classrooms have been gutted and the roof of the building has fallen in. 

It’s not known what caused the fire to break out. Urgent work in now under way to figure out what to do with the pupils who should be in school on Monday morning. 

Headteacher Amanda Greaves said: ‘We are absolutely devastated and want to reassure our staff, parents and families that we are still very much a community and we will come through this together.’

People in the local area have been left shocked by the fire. Up to six engines were called to the school site as fire fighters battled all day to try to save what’s left of the building. 

Local resident Alex Baxter said: ‘I’m devastated. My brother used to go to the school and loved it there. It’s just awful news, sad for the community.’


Local councillor Martin Repton described the events as a ‘sad day for Derby’. In a statement, he said: ‘I am shocked and saddened by Saturday’s fire. We must now all work to minimise the negative impact this dreadful fire will have on the 300 pupils’ education and day-to-day lives.

‘We must put into place immediate plans to get these children the premises where their schooling can continue.’

Gavin Tomlinson, chief fire officer at Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, appeared to blame the lack of sprinklers for the blaze. 

Describing what he said was ‘another devastating school fire’, Mr Tomlinson tweeted: ‘We need to protect vital buildings like this with sprinklers…I will continue to lobby for sustainable change within legislation.’

It’s understood the children who attend the school will be taught from home this week while provisions are made to continue their education elsewhere. 


Sean McClafferty, chief executive of the St Ralph Sherwin Catholic Multi Academy Trust, which runs the school, said: ‘The fire which broke out at St Mary’s in the early hours of Saturday has caused extensive damage to the building. As a result, it is not safe for staff and pupils to enter.

‘The school will be closed from Monday and we are putting plans in place for home learning from Tuesday this week and the school has been in contact with all staff and parents/carers to inform them of this.’

He added: ’We are discussing provision for pupils going forward and we will be in touch with families as soon as we can to let them know what our plans are.

‘As a Trust, we are working closely with St Mary’s, the Diocese of Nottingham, the local authority and the emergency services. An investigation is being carried out by the fire service to determine the cause of the fire.

‘Our thoughts are very much with our school community at this incredibly difficult time and we will be doing everything we possibly can to support everyone affected.’

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