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Power cut at Maplesden Noakes School and Maidstone Grammar School for Girls

Parents have hit out at a grammar school after pupils weren't set home despite a power cut knocking out the site's heating and kitchen.

Maidstone Grammar School for Girls (MGGS) did cancel its parents evening apparently citing "health and safety" but kept its doors open throughout the day.

Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, Buckland Rd, Maidstone. Picture: Martin Apps
Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, Buckland Rd, Maidstone. Picture: Martin Apps

Pupils were sent home early from neighbouring Maplesden Noakes, off Buckland Road, Maidstone.

Issues were reported to UK Power Networks just after 10am on Thursday and the supply was not fully restored until around 1am today.

Maplesden sent pupils home early, just after noon, and postponed its open evening until next Thursday.

Head teacher Richard Owen explained that students were expecting an early finish anyway in advance of the open evening, and actually only left around 20 minutes earlier than planned, after staff had ensured pupils had eaten and were able to get home safely.

He said: "Many of the toilets were not working and it was getting to the point where we didn't really have any choice because of a lack of hygiene and ultimately we have a duty of care.

Maplesden Noakes School, Buckland Road, Maidstone. Picture: Andy Jones
Maplesden Noakes School, Buckland Road, Maidstone. Picture: Andy Jones

"We also know that at this time of year it's getting dark pretty early in the afternoon and so we had to take that into consideration as well.

"I was driven by the welfare of our students and their safety.

"Our biggest frustration was having to rearrange the open evening for next Thursday and myself and others stayed at the school gates into the evening to make sure everybody had got the message."

Mr Owen added that the school also had someone on site through the night.

These checks were completed and the school is open as normal.

Maplesden Noakes head Richard Owen. Picture: Andy Jones
Maplesden Noakes head Richard Owen. Picture: Andy Jones

Meanwhile, many took to social media after pupils were kept in classes throughout the day at MGGS.

One pupil said: "The school was so cold. Everyone was allowed to wear coats to lesson five and allowed phone torches etc. It was pure chaos in school today. Canteen literally had brought ham or cheese sandwiches from Tesco, I think."

Parents also expressed frustration, with one writing: "I get an email from Maidstone Grammar School for Girls to say parents eve is cancelled due to a power cut. The school power has been off since around 10.30 so why haven’t the girls been sent home? They must be frozen."

Another said: "Pupils say that it was 'pitch black' in certain areas of the buildings, yet a parents' consultation evening was 'called off' at 1.17pm by the head teacher 'due to health and safety' reasons.

"This seems quite peculiar. Is the safely of the girls not just as important during the day? I know of parents who could not understand this reasoning either.

Maidstone Grammar School for Girls headteacher Deborah Stanley. Picture: Matthew Walker
Maidstone Grammar School for Girls headteacher Deborah Stanley. Picture: Matthew Walker

"My daughter says it was very tricky to walk in the building and what if someone would have had an accident due to the darkness?"

Head teacher Deborah Stanley said: “The safety and well-being of our pupils is of paramount importance at all times and we will always strive to ensure learning can continue, in a safe environment, wherever possible.

"On Thursday, November 14, a large area of Maidstone, including Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, was affected by a power cut.

"Staff assessed the situation, and liaised with Kent County Council, and made the decision to keep the school open so learning could continue.

"Pupils were allowed to wear coats in class if they felt cold and staff reported pupils were happy and working well.”

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