UPDATE: Search for room for 145 pupils after school is closed on safety grounds

Weeton Barracks, where Weeton Primary School is based
Weeton Barracks, where Weeton Primary School is based
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County hall bosses were left scrambling to find almost 150 children somewhere to learn after their school was closed down for safety reasons.

Youngsters from Weeton Primary School were told to stay at home yesterday after a building inspector declared it unsafe.

A spokeswoman for Lancashire County Council said the school, which is based at Weeton Barracks and caters primarily for military children, will remain shut for around two weeks as a ‘precaution’ while 
repairs are carried out to the prefabricated building, which is thought to date back to the 1950s.

Education chiefs are in advanced talks with the Ministry of Defence about using base facilities as makeshift classrooms for its 145 pupils, who are aged between four and 11.

But anger and frustration has been voiced at the closure, which came after years of delays to plans for a new school building on an old Army training field nearby.

Former governor Adrian Hutton said talks have been ongoing for a number of years, with several designs put forward and even start dates given, to no avail.

He said a lack of funding and red tape have been blamed for the lack of progression, which he said is now causing youngsters to suffer.

The 68-year-old said: “This has been going on for six or so years and the new school should have been up and running four years ago.

“The county council and the Ministry of Defence have failed these children by not making sure a new school was built.

“The children’s welfare and educational needs are paramount. If people had got their fingers out and got things done we would have had a new school by now.”

Off-shore worker Daniel Smith, whose sons Harley, nine, and Oscar, four, go to the school, said he planned to speak to Mark Menzies MP about the issue.

He said: “The school is great but the building is disgusting. I don’t understand why the council is dragging its feet when it’s children’s education at stake.”

Chairman of governors at Weeton Primary School, Coun Cheryl Little, said she hopedthe closure would accelerate plans for the new build.

She said: “This has been ongoing for a long time and it has done a disservice to the children. It’s a different scenario for the council because it’s Army land and part of it is the need for them to speak to each other, and the urgency has not been there.

“Everyone did their best for the children yesterday and all the agencies got together to ensure the children will be back on site next week.

“The Army stepped up to help and I’m very impressed.”

A spokeswoman for the county council said: “The school is an old building and there is some deterioration to its structure and, as a precautionary measure, they have closed the school.

“Temporary accomodation is being identified and there is a lot of effort ongoing to do that and to get children back in class on Monday.

“While the children are being educated somewhere else temporarily, there will be an effort made to get the structure made safe again.

“The plan is to have that done in about two weeks’ time but, long term, the school is going to be replaced.”

Nobody at the Ministry of Defence was available to comment.