A PRIMARY school in Oxford was forced to close today due to a 'total power outage.'

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Headington, which teaches 413 children, sent pupils home this morning after its power supply was shut down due to safety concerns.

Its headteacher Sue Tomkys sent a message to parents at about 11am, urging them to collect their children as soon as they can.

The school rarely closes and is one of the few that stayed open during the heavy snow in February and even after the 'Beast from the East' snowfall last year.

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In a post on the school's website entitled 'urgent school closure,' Mrs Tomkys wrote: "The school is being closed with immediate effect due to a total power outage.  

"Please arrange to collect your child at the earliest possible opportunity.  

"All school telephone lines and computer systems are down.

"Very many apologies for the inconvenience."

Oxford Mail:

St Joseph's in Oxford. Pic: Google Maps

The school is located in Headley Way and the power problem is limited to the school site, and has not affected surrounding businesses or properties.

Mrs Tomkys told the Oxford Mail that this is the second time this year the power has caused issues at the school, explaining that the system had overheated.

She added: "The electricity needed to be switched off to prevent fire.

"I'm a little bit concerned that this is the second time, and I think more action will need to be taken than last time."

The headteacher said power company SSEN was called out to St Joseph's on February 12 to fix the same issue, but the same thing had happened today.

She said in February school staff did an 'amazing job' and were able to provide sandwiches despite the power cut, and the school stayed open.

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As today is a Monday, however, she explained there was not enough food on hand to ensure that the school could provide enough lunches.

The problem was detected at about 9.30am and Mrs Tomkys and her team had to then discuss whether or not it was possible to stay open, but concluded it was not.

As well as the issue of food, the power outage has also left the school without heating.

Staff remain at the school today despite the lack of electricity, and Mrs Tomkys said sandwiches and off-curriculum classes have been provided to about 30 pupils whose parents were unable to collect them.

She said they hope the school will open tomorrow but it hinges on whether or not SSEN can fix the problem in time.

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SSEN confirmed to the Oxford Mail that it shut off the school's power at 9.39am this morning, after staff reported that the fuses had become warm.

A spokesperson said the move was a 'precautionary measure', adding: "We are so sorry for any convenience caused but safety does come first.

"We have sent our engineers to investigate and we do expect to have that work completed today."

The closure has been logged on Oxfordshire County Council's school closures page, which advises parents to check the school's website for updates.