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Newts make school late for the children

Hertswood pupils will not be able to move into the new upper school at the beginning of the next academic year because of a colony of newts.

Building at Holmshill School, which is to become Hertswood's senior school site, is now behind schedule, following the discovery of the newts last year.

Work had to be delayed while netting was erected around a pond to protect the great crested newts, and recent bad weather has also hindered progress.

Headteacher Ian Lucas this week said he hoped pupils would be able to move in towards the end of September, but that no firm date had been decided upon.

"The last thing I want to do is to move there when builders are still on site it is better for us to remain at Hillside," he said.

The delays at the upper school site follow similar problems at the lower school site, the old Hawksmoor School in Cowley Hill, last September.

Students moved onto the lower site two days late, and some building work had to be completed while they were attending school.

Mr Lucas said he was keen to avoid the same situation, and said pupils would remain at Hillside until work at the new site is completed.

The building project at Holmshill involves a new classroom block, including laboratories and computer rooms, and an extension to the dining hall.

Eventually the upper school site will cater for around 850 year ten to 13 pupils, although around 700 are expected to move in this year.

Mr Lucas said some pupils moving to the upper school this year would initially have to go to the Hillside site, where the upper school is temporarily based.

In light of this, he said it might make sense not to move onto the Holmshill site until the start of the spring term in January 2002.

Mr Lucas is planning to make a decision about the move during the summer term, after asking parents for their views.

The next academic year is due to start on September 3, although contractors at Holmshill estimate their work will not be finished until September 17.

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