'We've been hit by six floods since 2017’: Calderdale schools' spirit beats nature’s fury

Two schools in the Calder Valley have fought off nature’s fury to reopen despite suffering financial damage into the thousands.

Thursday, 27th February 2020, 3:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th February 2020, 4:30 pm
Todmorden CoE headteacher, Alice Leadbitter stood inside one of the damaged classrooms

Todmorden CoE Junior, Infant & Nursery School, and Mytholmroyd’s Burnley Road Academy endured devastating damage during Storm Ciara and Dennis, causing one of the schools to completely move premises.

Todmorden CoE’s 270 pupils, along with Burnley Road Academy’s 230, were almost without education for an unforeseeable future until staff and private clean-up crews mucked in to reopen the schools after major floods swept across Calder Valley this month.

Todmorden CoE headteacher Alice Leadbitter said: “The flooding was high, I couldn’t get into the building.

Todmorden CoE headteacher, Alice Leadbitter stood inside one of the damaged classrooms

“Many rooms were destroyed including the main community hall, reception classroom, toilets, and our boiler.

“Calderdale Council have given us a temporary boiler, which means we were able to open.

“Some children have suffered flooding at home and need stability, so we’ve fought for the school to reopen on time.

“The school’s now been hit by six floods since I became headteacher in September 2017.

Burnley Road Academy headteacher Clare Cope with school governor Karl Boggis

“It’s the frequency of these floods and it’s having an impact on the children’s education, even though we were recently voted with a 100 percent recommendation by parents.

“We’re a church school, but we’ve had help from a LCVAP (Local Education Authority Coordinated Voluntary Aided Programme) funding scheme, which will allow us to create a project for more flood defences around the school.

“I also have the full support of the parents, who have created a fundraising page for a new children’s playing yard.

“However, it’s frustrating because it’s my job these children have the best education, and it’s difficult when the damage suffered is more than £100,000 - it’s ridiculous.

Todmorden Primary underwater on February 9

“I think the drains around the area have become a problem and need to be unblocked and maintained.”

Ms Leadbitter said her staff worked hard over the recent half-term break to get the school up and running, a story similar to that of Mytholmroyd’s Burnley Road Academy, where staff showed “phenomenal” school spirit after temporarily moving into the village’s Moderna Business Park.

The Academy’s headteacher Clare Cope said: “Staff and workers have turned a unit into a functioning school in just two weeks - it’s incredible.

Our biggest priority was to keep all the children under one roof because, during the last major flood on Boxing Day 2015, our pupils were spread across Calderdale, and the travelling ate into their educational hours.”

Todmorden Primary lost two minibuses during the floods, which have been out of service since Storm Ciara hit in early February

Karl Boggis, Academy governor, said: “Ms Cope has done a phenomenal job finding temporary accommodation within the timeframe.

"The government need to look at natural flood management, plant more trees, and to take advantage of the moorland in order to tackle these floods better.”

The entrance to Todmorden Primary