Saturday, 15 Aug 2020

School is forced to SHUT after travellers set up camp in car park

School is forced to SHUT after travellers in six caravans set up camp in car park outside as pupils are told to stay at home

  • Unauthorised camp ‘compromised’ access to school in Hampshire’s New Forest
  • Travellers occupied Ringwood Health and Leisure Centre car park yesterday 
  • To ensure students’ safety, school has stayed shut with pupils working remotely
  • Head teacher said they are working with police and council to resolve matter 

A school has been forced to shut after travellers in six caravans set up a camp in a car park outside as pupils are told to stay at home.

The unauthorised camp was set up in a car park yesterday, blocking a road and  ‘compromising’ how students can get to class.

To ensure their safety, the secondary school in Hampshire’s New Forest has decided to stay shut with pupils working remotely while staff figure out with police and the council how to reopen. 

Ringwood School in Hampshire’s New Forest has been forced to shut after travellers in six caravans set up nearby outside (pictured: the travellers’ vehicles in a car park)

A police officer seen approaching a vehicle leaving the car park. Head teacher Leanne Symonds said the school is working with the police and council to resolve the issue

The ‘large group’ of travellers have occupied the car park of Ringwood Health and Leisure Centre as well as an access road to the Parsonage Barn Lane secondary school.

In a letter to parents, head teacher Leanne Symonds said: ‘On Sunday 28th June a large unauthorised encampment accessed the car park of Ringwood Health and Leisure Centre and the access road into Ringwood School.

‘Upon school staff attendance with Hampshire Constabulary and New Forest District Council, access to the school was compromised.

‘It is now possible to access the school however operational difficulties and the potential impact on students and staff arriving at school were considered and the school have made the decision to close on Monday 29th June 2020.

‘The school continues to work alongside Hampshire Constabulary and New Forest District Council to resolve this matter as promptly as possible to ensure our students can return to the emergency school provision and planned Face to Face sessions for Year 10 and Year 12 on Tuesday 30th June.

‘We understand the impact this will have on our local community and appreciate your understanding.’

The school also published a statement on Facebook, saying: ‘To ensure student safety and safeguarding the police have advised that we shut the school on Monday 29th June. 

‘Therefore if your child was due in school, please stay at home where they can work remotely instead.’

Ringwood secondary school, pictured. Ms Symonds said: ‘We understand the impact this will have on our local community and appreciate your understanding’

The entrance to the leisure centre car park, located close to the New Forest national park in Hampshire. The unauthorised camp ‘compromised’ access to the nearby school

Ringwood Health and Leisure Centre. The ‘large group’ of travellers have occupied the car park of the health centre as well as an access road to the Parsonage Barn Lane secondary school

Secondary schools have remained largely shut with only some pupils in year 10 and year 12 allowed to meet with teachers before the summer holidays ahead of exam years. 

The Government is now targeting a full return of all school pupils in England in September.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told LBC that going back to school will be compulsory and that fines could be issued to parents who keep their children at home because of safety fears.

‘It is going to be compulsory for children to return back to school unless there’s a very good reason, or a local spike where there have had to be local lockdowns,’ he said.

‘We do have to get back into compulsory education as part of that, obviously fines sit alongside that.

‘Unless there is a good reason for the absence then we will be looking at the fact that we would be imposing fines on families if they are not sending their children back.

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