Cwmcarn pupils in limbo as asbestos school stays shut

Cwmcarn pupils in limbo as asbestos school stays shut

CLOSED: Cwmcarn High School yesterday Fears for education as asbestos school pupils may have to move

NOTICE: A statement from Caerphilly council at the gates of Cwmcarn High School

UPSET: Kayle Garkut

TRADE DOWN: Liz Howells

First published in News

● No end in sight to asbestos closure
● 900 pupils with nowhere to learn
● Parents want answers from council
● Cleaners claim they’ve been sacked

CWMCARN High School’s 937 pupils are set to be in limbo for at least a week as Caerphilly council tries to find them temporary accommodation while asbestos concerns are investigated.

Parents reacted with anger and confusion to the uncertainty yesterday, with one pupil saying “educations are at risk”.

Cleaning staff claimed they were also laid off yesterday, raising concerns that the building may be shut for an extended period.

Kevin Lloyd, a cleaner at the school, claimed: “We came in today and asked our manager what was going on and he tells us we are sacked.”

A spokesman for Caerphilly council said the cleaners are employed directly by the school, so it was not involved in the decision. No-one at the school was available to comment on that yesterday.

Cwmcarn High closed on Friday, with Caerphilly council saying it was to safeguard the “health and wellbeing” of pupils following a structural report.

It released a statement yesterday, saying it is working with the school’s senior leadership team and governors to explore alternative arrangements for pupils and staff.

The statement added: “This is unlikely to be resolved this week. Every effort is being made to accommodate pupils in Years 11, 12 and 13 as a priority.”

Year 13 pupil Nikki Smart told the Argus she found it “distressing” that pupils only found out about the closure on Friday evening’s news.

She claimed there has been a disregard for pupils, saying: “The asbestos has been a known problem since I can remember.”

Kayle Garkut has two children at the school, 15-year-old Darren, and Lauren, 12.

He said: “My main concern is my 15-year-old, who is studying for his GCSEs. Will they be able to use another school temporarily or will they re-open the more modern blocks for those at important stages?”

Heather Jeremiah moved to the area to get her children into the school, and said: “It’s a very unnerving time for them. They may have to move to another school.”

Liz Howell, who runs the local post office, said trade is down in local shops, as there are no children about.

Michael Gray, chairman of governors at Newbridge School, said its head teacher has been in touch with Caerphilly council and officials for the site are willing to help the situation in any way they can.

Parents' anger at closure

PARENTS have reacted with anger to the closure on our website: Darky69 said: “I am furious in the way that this matter has been dealt with, my daughter is currently in Year 13 and is about to resit A levels Which I paid £40 for on Thursday.”

Alexman1: “The school said they didn’t hear about the asbestos until Friday. My son has said they closed one of the departments for 2-3 weeks because of it (asbestos).”

JWG1967 claimed: “Anyone who lives in the area knows how much the local council dislike this school.

“Despite having good results it never gets any good publicity.

Does anyone really thinks it’s a coincidence that the head was called into a meeting quarter of an hour before the end of school on a Friday afternoon.

“Thus taking the control of the situation and preventing the school notifying parents itself.”

Comments (10)

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10:57am Tue 16 Oct 12

R_Adams says...

Will the council release detailed results of the tests? I'd like to know the level of risk to which my children have been exposed. How much higher than background are the airborne levels they have recorded?
Will the council release detailed results of the tests? I'd like to know the level of risk to which my children have been exposed. How much higher than background are the airborne levels they have recorded? R_Adams
  • Score: 0

11:07am Tue 16 Oct 12

sherrie says...

I believe as parents of children who attend Cwmcarn we should have the right to know exactly what level of risk our children have been exposed to. Without a doubt we should have access to the test results!
I believe as parents of children who attend Cwmcarn we should have the right to know exactly what level of risk our children have been exposed to. Without a doubt we should have access to the test results! sherrie
  • Score: 0

12:56pm Tue 16 Oct 12

mikeyd says...

Schools built in the 60's while all the skilled tradesmen have been sat at home unemployed for the last 4 years! Governments got a lot to answer for.
Asbestos is dangerous if crushed, cut, drilled or physically moved without dustmasks etc. Still not comforting to the parents and pupils.
Also there are thousands of houses and garages still standing built with asbestos within the structure!!
Schools built in the 60's while all the skilled tradesmen have been sat at home unemployed for the last 4 years! Governments got a lot to answer for. Asbestos is dangerous if crushed, cut, drilled or physically moved without dustmasks etc. Still not comforting to the parents and pupils. Also there are thousands of houses and garages still standing built with asbestos within the structure!! mikeyd
  • Score: 0

1:25pm Tue 16 Oct 12

R_Adams says...

Asbestos is not a risk unless the fibers are airborne (ie the material containing asbestos fibers has broken down or become damaged). Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and fibers are present in the air anyway: we all have some level of exposure. I want to know how much more than background was recorded inside the school thus be able to have some understanding what level of risk my kids were exposed to. At the moment all the information we are hearing is comment and conjecture. I want details. I have just learned that new EU regulations concerning the control of asbestos came into effect in April 2012. More info here: http://www.hse.gov.u
k/asbestos/regulatio
ns.htm Not sure if this triggered the asbestos assessment at the school??
Asbestos is not a risk unless the fibers are airborne (ie the material containing asbestos fibers has broken down or become damaged). Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and fibers are present in the air anyway: we all have some level of exposure. I want to know how much more than background was recorded inside the school thus be able to have some understanding what level of risk my kids were exposed to. At the moment all the information we are hearing is comment and conjecture. I want details. I have just learned that new EU regulations concerning the control of asbestos came into effect in April 2012. More info here: http://www.hse.gov.u k/asbestos/regulatio ns.htm Not sure if this triggered the asbestos assessment at the school?? R_Adams
  • Score: 0

1:50pm Tue 16 Oct 12

Jane Em says...

Parents received letters informing them of the closure on Saturday morning. They were sent second class! How could we have possibly got the letters so quickly if the decision was only made on Friday afternoon?! My daughter also told me weeks ago that part of the school was closed off because of asbestos that was considered "Immediately dangerous"
Parents received letters informing them of the closure on Saturday morning. They were sent second class! How could we have possibly got the letters so quickly if the decision was only made on Friday afternoon?! My daughter also told me weeks ago that part of the school was closed off because of asbestos that was considered "Immediately dangerous" Jane Em
  • Score: 0

8:24pm Tue 16 Oct 12

bobmech1 says...

This is the opera unity that Caerphilly council has been waiting for to close the school.
They have been trying to do this since the school has been independent.
Why haven't they shut the other schools in their area which are having asbestos removed from them.
They state that there are 30 or so schools which have asbestos in them but only Cwmcarn is shut!
This is the opera unity that Caerphilly council has been waiting for to close the school. They have been trying to do this since the school has been independent. Why haven't they shut the other schools in their area which are having asbestos removed from them. They state that there are 30 or so schools which have asbestos in them but only Cwmcarn is shut! bobmech1
  • Score: 0

8:50pm Tue 16 Oct 12

berryboyxo says...

I'm a pupil at Risca Community Comprehensive, there are 500 pupils at our school, and it the past the numbers were as high as 1200, the school could take on most of the pupils in cwmcarn such as year 10 & 11 I have been at the school four years and it never gets any good publicity.
I'm a pupil at Risca Community Comprehensive, there are 500 pupils at our school, and it the past the numbers were as high as 1200, the school could take on most of the pupils in cwmcarn such as year 10 & 11 I have been at the school four years and it never gets any good publicity. berryboyxo
  • Score: 0

9:43pm Tue 16 Oct 12

Careful says...

Jane Em wrote:
Parents received letters informing them of the closure on Saturday morning. They were sent second class! How could we have possibly got the letters so quickly if the decision was only made on Friday afternoon?! My daughter also told me weeks ago that part of the school was closed off because of asbestos that was considered "Immediately dangerous"
I can only speak from my personal experience. Individual letters were received in respect of my children on Saturday morning. The letters issued by CCBC were dated 12 October and each one was in a separate CCBC envelope franked with the same date.
They were clearly mailed first class on Friday!

There are questions that everybody needs an answer to:

1) How was it possible for the Council to draft, mail merge, print, envelope stuff and frank c.950 letters to learners in the time between telling the Head of the School's closure at 2.45pm Friday afternoon, and getting those letters in the post before they were collected. I am of the firm opinion that the letter printing task had already been instructed by the Council prior to informing the Head, and her hands were totally tied as the School day ends at 2.55pm - some 10 minutes after she was told of the Council's decision! It was therefore impossible for the Head and Board of Governors to lead on this important PR matter and inform the staff and learners in a controlled, timely and professional manner, that I am sure they would have done had she been informed of the decision at the same time that the Council themselves acted on their decision by going ahead and printing almost a thousand individual letters!

IMHO the above reflects badly enough on the Council already, for Jane Em to claim these letters were decided upon much earlier, if her claim is found to be correct, has much greater implications for the Council's PR function and its concern over pupils' health and safety.

Perhaps someone can also ask the highly relevant questions: 1) At what time the Council's Health & Safety Officer met with the Asbestos Consultants?; 2) At what time was the Officer informed of the gravity of the problem?; and 3) At what time did he/she inform the Director?
[quote][p][bold]Jane Em[/bold] wrote: Parents received letters informing them of the closure on Saturday morning. They were sent second class! How could we have possibly got the letters so quickly if the decision was only made on Friday afternoon?! My daughter also told me weeks ago that part of the school was closed off because of asbestos that was considered "Immediately dangerous"[/p][/quote]I can only speak from my personal experience. Individual letters were received in respect of my children on Saturday morning. The letters issued by CCBC were dated 12 October and each one was in a separate CCBC envelope franked with the same date. They were clearly mailed first class on Friday! There are questions that everybody needs an answer to: 1) How was it possible for the Council to draft, mail merge, print, envelope stuff and frank c.950 letters to learners in the time between telling the Head of the School's closure at 2.45pm Friday afternoon, and getting those letters in the post before they were collected. I am of the firm opinion that the letter printing task had already been instructed by the Council prior to informing the Head, and her hands were totally tied as the School day ends at 2.55pm - some 10 minutes after she was told of the Council's decision! It was therefore impossible for the Head and Board of Governors to lead on this important PR matter and inform the staff and learners in a controlled, timely and professional manner, that I am sure they would have done had she been informed of the decision at the same time that the Council themselves acted on their decision by going ahead and printing almost a thousand individual letters! IMHO the above reflects badly enough on the Council already, for Jane Em to claim these letters were decided upon much earlier, if her claim is found to be correct, has much greater implications for the Council's PR function and its concern over pupils' health and safety. Perhaps someone can also ask the highly relevant questions: 1) At what time the Council's Health & Safety Officer met with the Asbestos Consultants?; 2) At what time was the Officer informed of the gravity of the problem?; and 3) At what time did he/she inform the Director? Careful
  • Score: 0

10:17pm Tue 16 Oct 12

CwmcarnHSpupil says...

I've been a pupil at the school for 7 years now, and since year 7 it was a known fact that there was a problem with Asbestos.
Friday afternoon, pupils were told that we would return to the closed off areas the following Tuesday at the latest.
I fail to understand how one minute certain parts in the school are safe enough to re-enter to the whole school being closed down an hour later.
Personally, I find it distressing that both staff and pupils have spent the majority of their life in such a dangerous environment, and that us pupils haven't been given the fair chance to voice our opions and ask the questions that we urgently need answers to.
We are expected to return to the premises Friday at 8:30 AM, I for one, am not satisfied that we are expected to return to such a high risk area when we haven't even had a parents meeting or been told just how much we have been exposed to this Asbestos! I will not be returning until the school can prove to everyone that the Asbestos has been removed and the premises are safe.
I've been a pupil at the school for 7 years now, and since year 7 it was a known fact that there was a problem with Asbestos. Friday afternoon, pupils were told that we would return to the closed off areas the following Tuesday at the latest. I fail to understand how one minute certain parts in the school are safe enough to re-enter to the whole school being closed down an hour later. Personally, I find it distressing that both staff and pupils have spent the majority of their life in such a dangerous environment, and that us pupils haven't been given the fair chance to voice our opions and ask the questions that we urgently need answers to. We are expected to return to the premises Friday at 8:30 AM, I for one, am not satisfied that we are expected to return to such a high risk area when we haven't even had a parents meeting or been told just how much we have been exposed to this Asbestos! I will not be returning until the school can prove to everyone that the Asbestos has been removed and the premises are safe. CwmcarnHSpupil
  • Score: 0

7:25am Wed 17 Oct 12

rlewis says...

It seems to me that lots of parents are unaware of the long term effects of breathing in asbestos dust. It is not now that the children will be affected. Fatal illnesses develop about 20-30 years after the inhalation of the asbestos particles.Although it is very worrying about the loss of education at the moment, it is the long term effects for our children that we should be worrying about. Those responsible for this situation should be calling a meeting to explain this to parents.
It seems to me that lots of parents are unaware of the long term effects of breathing in asbestos dust. It is not now that the children will be affected. Fatal illnesses develop about 20-30 years after the inhalation of the asbestos particles.Although it is very worrying about the loss of education at the moment, it is the long term effects for our children that we should be worrying about. Those responsible for this situation should be calling a meeting to explain this to parents. rlewis
  • Score: 0

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