Killinghall classroom reopens after asbestos ceiling collapse

Pupils at Killinghall School celebrate the opening of their new classroom. (1405143AM4)
Pupils at Killinghall School celebrate the opening of their new classroom. (1405143AM4)

After a ceiling containing asbestos collapsed, the eight month refurbishment of a reception classroom at Killinghall Primary School is now complete.

When the ceiling fell in September 2013 every piece of furniture and teaching equipment was lost and temporary toilets, a staff room, and the classroom were located in Portakabins on the playground.

Closed off from that time until April, the classroom is now fully remodelled and extended, giving the reception children a new learning environment.

Headteacher Sarah Bassitt told the Harrogate Advertiser series: “After all the disruption caused to the school it was lovely for the whole community to come together in celebration for the opening of our refurbished area.

“When the ceiling fell down none of the children were in there and it was before school, but as soon as we realised it was asbestos we made the call to close the school.

“Health and safety came down and we closed the school on the Friday and reopened on the Monday, but the whole area was cordoned off.

“The reception classroom was closed but it affected all the kids because they lost a lot of their playground too.”

Despite this level of disruption, Ms Bassitt said she is happy with the work carried out by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC).

“I said to NYCC, if we have lost everything can’t we look to improve it while we are at it?

“They took all the walls down and redesigned the building,” she said.

“It was about making it better for these kids who had been in a Portakabin for eight months.

“I didn’t think we would get there but we did, and they have done a fantastic job.”

As well as the temporary buildings, the decontamination units set up to deal with the asbestos in the affected part of the school were also placed in the playground.

The work carried out in these units was supposed to be finished in December, however due to the bad weather and storms at that time this too was disrupted.

Coun Arthur Barker (Con) NYCC executive member for schools.

He said: “The staff and pupils have moved back into the refurbished areas and we are delighted to be able to celebrate the opening of them with the pupils, staff, parents, and the community.

“The county council is grateful to the pupils, staff, and parents at the school, and to the community in Killinghall, for the cooperation that has been shown during the course of the project.

“Whilst every effort has been made to minimise the disruption caused to the school, it is inevitable that undertaking a project such as this has an impact on the operation of the school.

“NYCC has worked closely with the school, and particularly Ms Bassitt, to limit that impact.”

In December, pupils were invited to watch Sleeping Beauty, Harrogate Theatre’s 2013 pantomime, as a result of the collapse.

The theatre’s Hannah Draper, who runs drama classes at Killinghall, entered the school into a draw to win a trip to see the 2013 show Sleeping Beauty and meet the cast.