Renewed calls for school funding as pupils set to relocate for the second time

Thomasson Memorial Special School was badly flooded after a pipe burst during the 2021/22 Christmas break.

The school relocated to the Halliwell UCAN Centre to allow a major clean-up operation to remove asbestos materials that were dislodged during the flooding.

National guidance is clear that all schools built before 2000 are likely to contain asbestos, but these materials pose a negligible risk unless they are disturbed.

But in a fresh blow to the school, a recent routine inspection revealed newly discovered asbestos fibres within a ceiling cavity.

Following the advice of experts, the school will once again relocate to Halliwell UCAN while work is carried out to make sure the fibres do not pose a risk at any point in the future.

Making the case to rebuild:

Thomasson Memorial Special School is one of very few schools of its kind, supporting children from 13 different local authorities, some of whom have very complex needs. 

After the flooding, parents and the National Deaf Children’s Society submitted a 486 signature petition calling for the school to be completely rebuilt.

Beyond the ongoing maintenance issues, they cited broader problems with the layout and lack of space that mean the building is no longer fit for purpose.

Working closely with these stakeholders, Bolton Council submitted a case to the Department for Education to include Thomasson in the next round of the school rebuilding programme.

Following a visit by DfE inspectors in September, the application was unsuccessful.

However, the decision has been appealed and the recent discovery of further asbestos has prompted renewed calls for the government to revisit the case for rebuilding Thomasson.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said:

“The existing building has a number of shortcomings which for now are being compensated for thanks to the hard work and dedication of the teachers.

“However, we believe everyone at Thomasson deserves a purpose-built facility designed to meet the needs to today’s pupils.

“This most recent issue strengthens our case to have the school included in the next funding round, and we will be working with the other local authorities to urge the DfE to reconsider.”

“Thank you” to Halliwell residents

The first pupils are expected to move into the UCAN Centre after half term.

Shortly afterwards, temporary units will be installed on the nearby playing field to allow the rest of the school to relocate.

The council will make every effort to minimise the amount of space taken up, so that as much of the field as possible can remain in community use.

Repair work is expected to take 37 weeks, but this may change as the project progresses.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said:

“We would like to thank the residents living near the Halliwell UCAN for their patience and understanding when the school first used the facility.

“We are sure they will be equally accommodating following this most recent issue and every effort will be made to keep disruption to a minimum.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button