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Toxic pollutant removal progressing well at Stafford school

Pupils and staff are expected to return to Flash Ley Primary School’s site in September after work to remove formaldehyde is completed

Repair work aimed at eradicating a toxic pollutant from a Stafford primary school is ‘progressing well’ and the building is expected to reopen to staff and pupils in September – almost a year after closing on safety grounds – according to Staffordshire county council.

Flash Lea Primary School has been closed since October 2015 on high levels of formaldehyde were discovered inside the building

Flash Lea Primary School has been closed since October 2015 on high levels of formaldehyde were discovered inside the building

The main site of Flash Ley Community Primary School and Nursery on Hawksmoor Road has been closed since October 2015 on safety grounds after the chemical formaldehyde was found present inside the building, which caused a strong odour.

Around 20 pupils at the school were reportedly affected by the toxic compound, which is often used as a disinfectant but can cause skin irritation as well as breathing problems, sore throats and vomiting. Formaldehyde is also commonly used in buildings and internal furnishing.

An investigation by the school and the council revealed the building’s insulation foam to be the culprit, a problem which occurred as a result of remedial works to floor ducts at the school last summer.

As a result, repair work began in March 2016 to remove the foam and address issues with the flooring. The school is also set to undergo a deep clean and redecoration before pupils’ expected return in September for the new 2016/17 school year.

Flash Lea Primary School said in a statement: “The removal of the foam from the duct in the trial area has been successful and has been completed within the anticipated timescales, there are now two teams on site and work is progressing well and to date is on target.”

“The removal of the foam from the duct in the trial area has been successful and has been completed within the anticipated timescales, there are now two teams on site and work is progressing well and to date is on target” – Flash Lea Primary School

Flash Lea Primary School

While the main school building is closed, children have been educated at the nearby Chetwynd Centre, Tillington Manor Primary and Stafford Manor High and will continue to do so for the remainder of the 2015 school year.

Staffordshire county councillor Ben Adams, cabinet member for learning and skills, said: “Our priority has been to return the children back into school, in their local community, as soon as it is safe to do so.

“We have been working with school leaders, contractors and the Health & Safety Executive for some time to find a solution to the complex situation at Flash Ley School. I’d like to once again thank the entire school community for their patience and understanding during this time.

“Having investigated the cause and considered all possible solutions, we are now taking decisive action to remove the substance causing the formaldehyde, and fix the flooring in the building.

“The site will remain closed until the new school year to allow remedial works to be completed and full testing to be done. Children and staff will only return to the building once extensive tests show that is safe to do so.”

Head teacher at the school, Simon Barker, said children, parents and staff were all “delighted” with news they would be able to return this year and that the focus now was on ensuring a smooth transition back to the Hawksmoor Road site.

He said: “I would personally like to thank the children, parents and staff for their support while we have been temporarily moved. We can now look forward to safe school to educate our children.”

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