CHILDREN have been forced to wear jackets, gloves and hats in class as temperatures dropped to 10C due to heating problems.

Headteacher of Oxford’s Rose Hill Primary School Sue Vermes has said in the last two months, five classrooms in the old part of the 415-pupil school have fallen below the required temperature of 18C.

She said: “We shouldn’t be teaching in these conditions.”

Oxfordshire County Council admitted the situation was unacceptable and said it had offered the school temporary heaters.

In October the council paid for two new boilers for the school in The Oval, but one of them broke down on Thursday and they’ve had problems since December.

Year Six pupil Sebastian Gill, 11, said: “It gets really cold and sometimes it’s distracting.”

Sebastian’s mother and former Rose Hill pupil Vicky Gill, 34, said: “It’s quite disappointing, there’s been a half attempt improving it but the windows were there when I was at the school and that was some 20 years ago. There’s money going into other schools and this place has been missed out.

“They need to sort out simple things like heating.”

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Mrs Vermes said it was costing them a lot to try to keep the classrooms warm.

She said: “Our site manager said that in the cold months we’re spending about £3,000 a month on heating alone, and that’s money that could be spent on other things like education and resources.”

She said the school was set to be rebuilt under the Primary Schools Building Project in 2010, but the project was scrapped when the coalition government came into power: “We’ve been speaking to the county council about replacing the windows or insulating the roof, which they’re considering.

“But this won’t be done until the summer.

“I don’t really blame the council, as the spending is limited and they have to spend money elsewhere as well, but for us this is a priority.”

County council cabinet member for business and customer services Nick Carter, said: “Staff from the council’s contractor Carillion have been working with the school to resolve a number of issues relating to a new heating system which was installed in October.

“Staff have been on site today to review the entire heating system, identify and correct any faults.

“Temporary heaters have been offered to the school in the meantime but this is clearly an unacceptable situation and we are doing all we can to get the system working properly, as swiftly as possible.

“We are also aware of the school’s concerns over single-glazed windows and request for roof insulation. We hope to be in a position to allocate funding to address these issues, though as always, this will need to be prioritised against the ongoing competing demands of schools across the whole of Oxfordshire.”

Labour MP for Oxford East Andrew Smith said he had written to the Education Secretary about the issue: “It is totally unacceptable for children and staff to be working in temperatures several degrees below the 18 degree limit.

“The county council is between a rock and a hard place, because they face massive Government cuts and huge pressures in several vital areas of service. “But the public rightly expect keeping children warm at school to be a priority.”

County councillor for Rose Hill and Littlemore Gill Sanders, said they were “letting the children down”.

Councillor Melinda Tilley, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families, said she was worried about the children: “If the children are in this situation it’s not going to do much for their learning.”

Last night the Department for Education (DfE) said councils were responsible for the condition of schools.

A spokesman said: “Since April 2010, the county council has received £35m of funding support for maintaining and improving its school buildings.”

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