CHILDREN have been playing alongside heavy machinery at an Oxford primary school, according to their parents.
Bayards Hill Primary School, in Waynflete Road, Barton, is in phase two of its £5.2m refurbishment but parents are concerned the playground is a building site.
The school reopened for the new term on Wednesday.
Father and builder Kieran Carton said he does not believe the school should be open.
Kieran Carton with daughter Annie, five
He said: “That is crazy. I’ve been working on building sites since I was a teenager and I know there’s no way the kids should be in here – it shouldn’t be open, it’s unsafe.”
His five-year-old daughter Annie has just joined the school and said: “It’s really noisy – it’s bang-bang-bang, clatter-clatter.”
The work, taking place around the newly completed classrooms, is to build office space and the school’s kitchen.
The building work is fenced off using temporary wire panels which can be moved to let construction staff in and out.
One mother, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s a wreck, it’s like a war zone.
“There are humungous holes in the playground and the surface hasn’t been set.”
Seven-year-old pupil William Meecham said: “They’re knocking down buildings. It’s really dusty inside and it’s all noisy. I want the builders to finish.”
Some parents are pulling their children out of classes until changes are made.
Hayley Davies’s son Jonas, 10, did not go to school yesterday because of the work.
Mrs Davies, 45, of Headington, said: “It’s disgusting – I’m appalled. I’m not letting Jonas come in. No-one’s asked me why he’s not there yet.
“We got a text on Tuesday saying the school was open. I thought it was going to be safe for them to go in.
“I understand it might not be completely finished, but you can’t teach in this.”
Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for business and customer services Nick Carter said: “There is absolutely no question of children’s safety being compromised as a result of Bayards Hill School opening this week.
“Construction work has been taking place at the school over the summer holidays.
“There were concerns up to the start of term that this phase of construction work would not be completed for the school to open this week.
“However, all checks and measures have been taken to ensure the site is safe.
“Staff from the council’s property team have visited the site today to reassure parents who have raised concerns.”
The school’s acting headteacher Sylvia Hawken seemed unaware that parents were not sending children in, saying: “No-one has told me they’ve taken their children out of school because of this.”
Acting headteacher Sylvia Hawken
She dismissed the concerns, and said: “There are lots of schools where building work is going on. It’s quite normal.”
Following questions from the Oxford Mail, Oxfordshire County Council, which is responsible for the construction work, completed an emergency inspection yesterday.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “Parents have a right to know that their children are safe at school.
“It would have been better if things could have been organised to avoid this worry.
“If the school does close, then I hope any days lost will be made up, because every day counts in a child’s education.”
'Is this a joke?'
- Bridget, mother of Gina, nine, said: “It’s disgusting. I’m not sending Gina in tomorrow. It’s hazardous for the children.”
- Laura, mother of Joshua, five, said: “It’s quite dangerous from a child’s point of view. I can’t take him out. I’ve got no other childcare options when I’m at college.”
- Sam has a grandson in Year One. She said: “Is this a joke? There’s no way that school is ready for the kids.”
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