Pupils are back in classroom after blaze

Executive headteacher Julie-Ann Hewitt outside the school during renovation work
Executive headteacher Julie-Ann Hewitt outside the school during renovation work

Pupils have returned to the classroom this week at a school badly damaged in a fire.


After months of hard work, the refurbishment is now virtually finished at Westleigh Methodist Primary School.

Children were able to return to their classrooms for the first time yesterday as the new school year began.

Executive headteacher Julie-Ann Hewitt said: “It’s been amazing because everything was completed.

"We set ourselves a very tight deadline to get the work done and to me that was really important, because I felt the children needed to be back in school for the start of the term.

“We have been working with all our contractors and pretty much kept to the date. The school was handed back to us mid-August, allowing the teachers to get back in to the classrooms and get them ready.”

Flames ripped through the school when the blaze, thought to have been started by faulty solar panels, broke out on Sunday, March 25.

The damage meant three classrooms, a resource area, the library, offices and the school hall could not be used.

Portable cabins were put on the site and the Start Well Centre was used to house temporary classrooms.

All pupils were able to return to lessons three weeks after the fire broke out - just before SATs exams.

Mrs Hewitt paid tribute to pupils and staff, as well as everyone who supported the school after the fire.

The only room not yet ready to use is the library, with furniture expected to arrive soon, but it is full of books donated after an online appeal.

She said: “We have an incredible amount of books. That’s one example of how people have helped.

“We are blown away by the community, not just locally but other schools across the country and different groups.”