A primary school where pupils were forced to wade through raw sewage and breathe in toxic fumes after a £2.7million refurbishment may have to be demolished.
Russell Scott Primary School in Denton, Greater Manchester, has been plagued by a number of issues over the years after the construction group Carillion completed work on the school in 2015.
In the months after the disastrous refurbishment, schoolchildren had to be evacuated after classrooms were flooded with raw sewage and the playing field, which is now littered with rubble, craters and dangerous materials, was fenced off.
The Tameside school, which had to be closed six times due to building issues, also failed fire safety checks.
Now, headteacher Steve Marsland, 62, has said the 19th century building may have to be knocked down completely and rebuilt following the botched refurbishment six years ago.
Russell Scott Primary School in Denton, Greater Manchester, has seen its classrooms flooded with raw sewage
The primary school had to be closed six times due to building issues after a £2.7 million refurbishment by the construction group Carillion
He said the year after the building work was carried out work attendance went down from 95 per cent to 60 per cent as a result of illness from sewage fumes.
He told The Mirror: ‘For five years since the construction finished, some of the kids have been through their whole school life having never been on the grass.
‘They’ve had to be evacuated because of sewer gas, paddle through sewage with rain pouring in, get sent home due to floods. You name it, they’ve had to endure it.’
He added: ‘People who see it are absolutely flabbergasted. It’s like a war zone. The clowns who have done the construction work have made it a place not fit for children.’
Headteacher Steve Marsland, 62, said the 19th century building may have to be knocked down completely
Mr Marsland said he also discovered that the building did not comply with fire regulations on the first day children returned to the school after the refurbishment in 2015.
He told the Manchester Evening News: ‘On the first day we actually got back in school, we found out that the building did not comply with fire regulations.
‘The children have been sent home on numerous occasions for all sorts of problems with the building, from floor to ceiling.’
Despite never previously having issues with flooding, the school has been flooded on six occasions since the refurbished building was opened.
The school also suffered sewage leaks, which Mr Marsland says was down to the old sewage system remaining in place despite the refurbished school being bigger than the old building, while a new ‘hyper-efficient’ energy system has also ended up costing the school an extra £30,000.
Mr Marsland said: ‘The contractor was saying that everything was fine, while we were being flooded and even tested for explosive levels of sewer gas.
‘We had sewage coming into the classrooms, we had to evacuate the building because we were paddling around in filth.
‘Since then we have had numerous closures for various non-compliance with building regulations, fire regulations and six floods.
‘We are continually monitoring the building. As soon as it rains the sandbags come out.
‘In early summer we were flooded again – every time it rains heavily the school is under water. It costs tens of thousands of pounds to replace resources.
‘It’s only going to go from bad to worse, and we just don’t know what is round the corner.’
The playing field was fenced off after it was left with rubble, craters and dangerous materials
After the refurbishment, the school has been closed six times as a result of flooding
Local Labour MP and former Russell Scott pupil, Andrew Gwynne, has raised the issues affecting the school in the House of Commons
Carillion was the company which carried out work on Russell Scott Primary School, in Denton, from 2013 to 2015 – just over two years before it went bust.
Tameside Council have had the school examined by experts and Mr Marsland, said it may now be cheaper to demolish the school completely and rebuild it.
Mr Marsland added: ‘All the reports from structural engineers, architects, various experts – they have come to the same conclusion that it’s not worth continuing to put a plaster over it.
‘Building a new school would be millions of pounds, on top of the millions of pounds it cost for this building.
‘It’s not just our school that was left like this [by Carillion].
‘There are other buildings in Tameside and across the country, and it is coming out of public money.
‘We are not the most salubrious area, we are in north Denton with a diverse population and 30 per cent of children on free school meals. This is coming out of our taxes – putting right what the contractors have ridden roughshod over us.’
Local Labour MP and former Russell Scott pupil, Andrew Gwynne, has also raised the issues affecting the school in the House of Commons.
He told Education Secretary Gavin Williamson that repairs for the school have so far cost around £670,000 and another £5 million would be needed.
Mr Gwynne added: ‘Even then Tameside Council isn’t convinced that the building will be fixed. It’s serious.’
Baroness Berridge, parliamentary under-secretary of state for school system, is now set to meet with Mr Gwynne to discuss the issues at Russell Scott.
A Tameside Council spokesperson said: ‘Following completion of a £2.7 million refurbishment of Russell Scott Primary school in 2015, the school, the community and the council have been left disappointed after the works carried out by Carillion were found to be of poor quality.
‘The council has worked and continues to work closely with Russell Scott Primary School to ensure any immediate and remedial works were carried out so that there is no risk to pupils and staff.
‘The council has sought advice from the Department for Education (DfE) on potential solutions given that school condition allocations are unlikely to meet the cost of resolving the issues.
‘Unfortunately, there are no immediate funding solutions but officers will continue to work with the Complex Projects Team at the DfE to address the obvious funding gap.’