This page will be updated regulalry with the latest news from Robert Halfon MP in relation to the ongoing situation at Sir Frederick Gibberd College in Harlow.
Statement from Robert Halfon MP - 23rd August 2023
Since the shocking news was published that Sir Frederick Gibberd College would be closed, I have worked continuously with the school and with the Department for Education to understand what happened, and to establish the next steps and plans for the affected year groups.
This afternoon, I met again with officials in the Department and the school, and I am pleased to share further information and updates for the affected pupils, families and wider school community.
- Year 7 pupils will be placed in Mark Hall Academy from the start of the school term on 6th September. A free bus service from the Sir Frederick Gibberd site will be provided.
- Sixth Form pupils will be placed in BMAT STEM.
- Years 8, 9, 10 and 11 pupils will be placed in temporary accommodation, similar to professional exhibition structures. These will be equipped with a full suite of classrooms, with windows, carpeted floors, fully-functional IT, furniture and all the required educational resources. Toilets, catering, and a sports space will also be provided. Construction of these will begin imminently with pupils expected to return to them from 11th September.
- Longer-term temporary classrooms will also be built swiftly and are expected to open for pupils by the end of the Autumn Term, if not sooner.
- For children with special educational needs, the Trust and the school are contacting parents directly to discuss the additional requirements which will be established for their children. If you have not yet been contacted, please do reach out to the school directly.
- A number of parents have also contacted me about the Greenwell school site. Although Caledonian Modular was involved in the initial planning, their engagement did not even reach the final design stages and a new firm has since taken over. As already planned, the temporary site for Greenwell will open this September (on Commonside Road), with the new site on Tendring Road due to open in September 2025.
Late last week, the Department received the final report from two engineering firms commissioned to investigate the building structure. After considering the findings of the reports, the results and the decision to close the school were communicated to Sir Frederick Gibberd on Friday 18th August. The Department is currently conducting further investigations to decide whether to repair, or to rebuild the school, and will also be investigating all aspects as to what happened, as well as the potential for reclaiming the costs from parties who are involved.
I know this is a deeply worrying time for parents and for the school community. Like myself, I know everyone is responding at pace to prioritise the return of school pupils. These are early details, and the school has sent more detailed information to parents this evening.
I would like to thank again, the incredible Head, teachers and support staff at the Sir Frederick Gibberd College and BMAT Education Trust who are continuing to go above and beyond to ensure that clarity and support is provided to parents as quickly as possible.
I will be holding a Special Surgery Meeting for parents affected by the College closure on Thursday 24th August. From 4.30-5.30pm, I will host a Town-Hall Zoom Call, and from 5.30-6.30pm, I will be holding an in-person surgery. For any parents wishing to attend either of these sessions, please do contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to receive the zoom link, or the location for the in-person event.
Statement from Robert Halfon MP - 21st August 2023
It is shocking to learn that, following advice from structural engineers and the Department for Education (DfE), the main school building and sports hall block at Sir Frederick Gibberd College must be closed with immediate effect.
Since being informed of the news a few days ago, I have held meetings with Sir Frederick Gibberd school and the school building team in the Department to understand what has gone on and ensure everything possible is being done to remedy it. I have offered my full support to find a solution which will pose the least amount of disruption to students, families and the teaching and support staff at the school.
This is an extremely complex situation which will mean that the school will no longer open at the beginning of term. It is important to note that neither Sir Frederick Gibberd nor BMAT Education Trust, bear any responsibility for what has occurred. The Education Department issued advice following a report by technical consultants working for them which identified structural irregularities. The Government is taking full responsibility for resolving the situation and will fund the rebuild of the school and the temporary measures that BMAT are having to put in place. The DfE will continue to work closely with the school and the Trust throughout this process.
I offer my full support to the school and the wider community as they tackle the challenges ahead. Our objective must be to restore face-to-face education for all pupils as soon as possible. The school is working with the DfE and with the support of Harlow District Council, and Essex County Council to put in place interim measures ahead of students moving into temporary accommodation in the middle of September.
This interim period will commence as soon as possible after September 6th. The current planning assumption is that all pupils will be back at school, in person, and in temporary facilities, by Monday 18th September.
I apologise to the students and families who I know, were looking forward to the start of term in a new school. As the situation evolves, I understand the school will be communicating further with parents and will aim to set out a clear plan for the year groups affected later this week.
This is a very trying time for the whole school community, and I would like to acknowledge the tremendous work of the school staff, who have already gone above and beyond to work at pace with the Department to find solutions to the ongoing situation. I also want to acknowledge the difficult times ahead faced by parents and pupils going forward. I offer my heartfelt support and if anyone has any individual issues or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.