Blaze hit school ‘will be open for start of term’

Date:20th August 2015. Picture James Hardisty. Fire at Freeston Academy School, Normanton, near Wakefield.
Date:20th August 2015. Picture James Hardisty. Fire at Freeston Academy School, Normanton, near Wakefield.

A school which was badly damaged when a fire broke out just as pupils were arriving to collect their GCSE results will be fully open for the start of term next month.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to Freeston Academy, in Normanton, at around 9.10am on Thursday.

More than 50 firefighters from across the county were called to the incident and spent most of the day at the scene.

But Mike Tarr, acting principal at the school, said the site will be safe for children to return after the summer break.

He said: “I’d like to reassure parents and students that the Academy will re-open as scheduled after the summer holidays on Wednesday, September 2.

“The block affected might look a mess but the site will be safe and secure for the return of our students. That is a priority.

“The fire affected less than 10 per cent of the school site and was not on the scale initially reported.”

The fire damaged the school’s library, two ICT classrooms, a learning support room and a hospitality and catering suite, with its industrial kitchen and canteen area.

Mr Tarr said: “We’ve lost the books in the library but the impact on students is minimal because, while the ICT rooms have been destroyed, their work is stored on our central server which is housed elsewhere rather than the individual computers.

“The incident is not what we would have wanted but at least it is during the holidays and is something we’re able to cope with.

“I’d like to thank the staff who’ve come in to help out and Wakefield City Academies Trust for its support during this difficult time.”

The Freeston Academy will join Wakefield City Academies Trust on September 1.

Alan Yellup, WCAT’s chief executive, said: “The important thing is that nobody was injured.

“While The Freeston Academy does not formally join us until September, we are fully committed to it and won’t let an incident like this deter us from our long term aims and ambitions for the academy.

“Colleagues have been on site working with its senior management team to ensure everything will be as normal as it can be for its re-opening on 2nd September.

“I’d like to thank everybody who has come together to ensure there will be continuity for the students.”

Fire investigators continue to examine the cause of the fire but a spokesman said they “do not believe it to be suspicious.”