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Denton primary school evacuated six times due to "potentially explosive sewage gas"

Russell Scott Primary School, situated on Clare Street in Denton, is in desperate need of repair as it closes six times due to worrying levels of “potentially explosive sewage gas” and flooding.

Headteacher Steve Marsland claimed that, despite the school building not being fit for purpose, building control signed off documents remotely from their Wolverhampton offices without ever stepping foot onto the premises.

“It’s a scandal,” Steve said.

“If you asked anyone what the most precious thing in their life is, they’d say their children and yet you’ve got children paddling in sewage, rain pouring through the windows. They’re our future and they need to be looked after, not put in buildings that are unsafe.”

Staff at the school said they have wheelbarrows filled with sandbags for when the inevitable sewage floods happen. 

“Anything the water touches is foul. We’ve had lines of skips outside school before now, full of books, felt tips, skirting board, white boards – anything this stuff touches has to be destroyed.” 

Eight years ago, the 150-year-old school building underwent a multi-million-pound refurbishment however Carillion, the company contracted to carry out the repairs, left the school with an array of new issues, including alarms that had been wired wrong and faulty fire doors.

Carillion has since gone bankrupt and left the primary school deteriorating for almost a decade until it reached the current critical point, jeopardizing the safety and well-being of students, staff and teachers alike. 

In 2022, Steve said he received a letter from the Secretary of State for Education, saying that the school would be rebuilt, but he is still waiting on news in regard to what the work will begin.

The most recent sewage issue took place last Thursday, January 18, as Steve labels it “a nightmare”. 

He continued: “We put up with it for years, teaching and learning in a building not fit for purpose, because we thought we’d be coming back to a shiny, new school following the renovation but it’s absolutely dreadful.

“They rushed moving us back in here because Carillion would have incurred penalties if it wasn’t ready when they had predicted it would be.

“We’ve paid a lot of money to get expert views on the state of the building, even employing our own architects and surveyors.

“This issue is a result of poor workmanship, bad organisation and people not being held to account. They’d rather push it under the carpet and blame each other, instead of getting something sorted and playing the blame game after that.”

When Panorama contacted the DfE, it said the school would have “a detailed programme plan to review” by the end of January 2024 and would be more “deeply engaged” by the department from that point onwards, according to BBC Panorama.

Headteacher Steve Marsland

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