Dear Sir Oliver,
Thank you for your email.
Further to my previous update, the Risk Protection Arrangement for schools (RPA) has now confirmed that King James Academy will receive full reinstatement cover.
Scaffolding has been put in place to make safe the cladding on the affected building, and this has allowed the trust to use of the remainder of the school site for Years 5, 6 and 11.
You will be aware that Years 7 to 10 are currently being educated off-site by making use of a local church hall and accommodation on a wilderness park. They are also attending the school site twice a week on a rotational basis.
Our shared priority is to return all pupils to face-to-face education on the school site as quickly as possible. It was therefore agreed that temporary accommodation will be arranged by RPA while repairs to the roof take place.
Specifications for sixteen temporary classrooms have been agreed with the school and issued to suppliers. The quotes are due back from the suppliers by 2 February and will be progressed immediately. This will also allow us to communicate an indicative timescale for delivery of the temporary classrooms to the school. Ground works for the temporary accommodation have also begun to ensure no delays in installation once contracts are awarded.
We are considering whether a phased release of temporary classrooms would be possible, to allow pupils currently being taught off-site to return to school as soon as possible. Our first consideration is always whether this can be achieved safely, whilst the remaining temporary classrooms are brought into use.
In the interim, my colleagues within the DfE are continuing to explore alternative accommodation options that could allow more pupils to return to full face-to-face education more quickly. Officials will discuss any and all potential options with the school and trust.
Yesterday, DfE officials and representatives from RPA, including the loss adjustor, met with the trust and school to provide a progress update. Starting from this Friday, RPA will lead weekly stakeholder meetings with the loss adjustors and school to maintain momentum on the project. Officials from both Regions Group (my team) and the DfE Capital Directorate (which oversees matters to do with school sites) will continue to attend to support this process.
The school and trust have made every effort to minimise disruption and deliver continuity of education. This is by no means an easy ask and we understand that they will feel anxious about the timescales for returning pupils to the main school site. I want to reassure you that all parties involved are doing everything they can to ensure this happens as quickly as possible.
I hope this email provides you with some assurance. I have asked colleagues here to update me on progress with the procurement of temporary classrooms after quotes have been received later this week. I will ask my team to ensure that you are updated about that too.
With best wishes,
East of England, Regions Group