Replacement for fire-hit Derbyshire school had no internet or phone services for months

The replacement for a Derbyshire school which was destroyed in an accidental blaze has been without internet and phone services for months.

Harrington Junior School in Long Eaton was accidentally destroyed during refurbishment works on May 28.

It was replaced with a temporary school unit built out of an array of modules in August, to provide the school with a home in time for the new school year in September 2020.

However, the Local Democracy Reporting Service can now reveal that staff have been left using their own mobile data in order to access the internet for classes.

A parent who contacted the LDRS said this has held back remote learning.

With a lack of a phone line, teachers and other school staff have also had to use their own mobiles to contact parents and carers.

The school’s head teacher has said the school now finally has internet access, as of Friday, January 8. The vast majority of the 250 pupils are no longer in the temporary school unit until lockdown is eased.

Head Rachael Wilmot said: “Getting all the technology destroyed in the fire back up and running has been a big job and we’ve done everything we can, working with our internet provider, to ensure our communications have continued, including adding a mobile phone number for everyone to use.

“All lessons are on our website every day for children to access, and we have had some good feedback from parents.

“Following the connection of our new internet service last Friday, we expect to be fully up and running in the next couple of days.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their support over these difficult last few months, including teaching and support staff, parents, carers as well as the children.”

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A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “We’ve been supporting the school following the fire which destroyed everything.

“The headteacher and staff have worked incredibly hard in difficult circumstances and we’d like to praise them for their hard work and commitment.”

Derbyshire’s chief fire officer has said that sprinklers would have saved the junior school, had they been in place.

Its temporary replacement, set to remain in place until summer 2022, also does not have sprinklers.

A permanent replacement is set to cost £5.5 million.

The council has refused to say which of its schools have sprinklers, citing a risk of arson – a claim rejected by the county’s fire chief.

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