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Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School in Canterbury ordered to close by Kent County Council due to Legionella fears


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A secondary school has been ordered to close until the new year amid fears a busted boiler has increased the risk of pupils contracting Legionnaire's disease.

Bosses from Simon Langton Girls' School in Canterbury have been forced to shut the building for the rest of term following a visit to the site by officers from Kent County Council (KCC) earlier today.

One of Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School's three boilers has broken down
One of Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School's three boilers has broken down

The inspection by the local authority was carried out to check how the building's water system was working after one of its three boilers broke down last week, forcing children to remain at home on Friday.

It was ruled the current set-up increases the risk of Legionella developing.

The bacteria can cause Legionnaire's disease - a severe form of pneumonia typically caught by inhaling Legionella from water.

In a letter sent to parents this afternoon, school head teacher Angela Scully confirms that the building has been ordered to remain closed for the rest of term.

She writes: "Our hot water boiler is beyond short-term repair and we are currently running our heating and hot water off the two remaining boilers.

"This is not how the system was designed to operate and as a result we are unable to maintain hot water temperature at a level that removes the risk of Legionella.

"On Friday we agreed with KCC that the best option was to see how the amended system worked, and that a compliance officer should come in and take temperature tests along with our site team.

Bosses have confirmed that the school will close for the rest of term
Bosses have confirmed that the school will close for the rest of term

"Following these checks the compliance officer agreed with our assessment of the water temperatures, and following consultation with his superiors, the instruction was given to close for the remainder of the term."

With the site closed, classes will now be held on Microsoft Teams until Tuesday, December 15.

This comes as the grammar readies itself to move into its £20 million new teaching block and sports hall in January.

Construction of the state-of-the-art facility - which is being built on parts of the existing visitor car park, the playground and a playing field - began in August last year.

Mrs Scully continues: "This is not how we would have wished our last weeks in our current school building to end.

Progress at the new Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School building. Picture: Paul Pollard
Progress at the new Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School building. Picture: Paul Pollard

"While it has been a long and difficult term, there is always a joyousness with the approach of the Christmas break, one that is needed more now than ever."

The grammar was given the green light to replace its dilapidated 1950s buildings after an inspection of the site in 2017 uncovered more than 600 defects, with parts in “significant levels of disrepair”.

Work is on track to be completed by the end of this month, paving the way for the demolition of the old school to begin - and for pupils to move into the new classrooms - in January.

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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