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Gorleston school evacuated after building fears

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 November 2010 | UPDATED: 13:06 19 November 2010

Peterhouse Primary School in Gorleston has been transformed following the completion of a £3.8m rebuild.

Peterhouse Primary School in Gorleston has been transformed following the completion of a £3.8m rebuild.

Archant

MORE than 240 pupils and staff from the new Peterhouse Primary School in Gorleston were evacuated after 15 broken windows and a metre-long crack were discovered in its new £3.8m building.

Anxious parents collected their youngsters yesterday afternoon after receiving a text message from the Gorleston school requesting they were picked up as soon as possible.

Headteacher Martin Scott at first said the issue was one of “subsidence” but after an inspection by a county council surveyor the cause was said to be “thermal movement in the windows” and “plaster drying” - which had caused the cracks in the wall.

He said: “The building had to be evacuated because all that concerns me is the safety of the children.”

Mr Scott was informed the south-facing windows in the hall were shattered at around 8.30am. By the time of evacuation, all 15 of the windows were cracked. The cracks were in the south side of the building, facing the school field.

He added: “I checked with my caretaker and we monitored those cracks by marking them with sticking tape.

“At around 10am we went to have another look with the chairman of the Interim Executive Board, as the cracks in the windows had grown, and there was a long crack in the plasterwork.”

It was at around 1pm, and after contacting Norfolk Property Services, that it was decided the 248-pupil school school for those aged between three and 11, should be closed.

The building, which boasts touch screen learning, digital displays and wireless networks among its facilities, was opened to students at the start of term.

Adrian Grey, 58, has a son in year three. He said: “When I got the text I was wondering what was going on as we were all told to come and pick up our children – it’s terrible to be honest.”

Emma Carter, who has a niece at the school, added: “I’m shocked and angry at what could have happened.”

The site, which was clear of children by well before 3pm, was then checked by a county council surveyor.

Kate Gooding, a spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “We were made aware that cracks have appeared in part of the Peterhouse school building.

“The school was closed as a precautionary measure. We will be working with those involved in the project to try to resolve it as quickly as possible.

“Our building team has worked quickly, in partnership with NPS and the builders, to assess the cause and are pleased to say that the school is safe and will reopen tomorrow.”

She added: “We would like to thank parents and carers for their patience.”

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