Great news for Kilnhurst Primary School after battling back from flood nightmares

FROM flood to good — a school’s resilience after fighting off two massive floods and the Covid pandemic has resulted in a magical revival and a positive report from Ofsted.

FROM flood to good — a school’s   resilience after fighting off two massive floods and the Covid pandemic has resulted in a magical revival and a positive report from Ofsted.

Kilnhurst Primary School is right next to the River Don and three years ago last week was wrecked after heavy rain swept through South Yorkshire.

After more than a year in temporary classrooms at sister schools Swinton Fitzwilliam Primary School and Swinton Brookfield Junior Academy, they finally returned “home”.

And now the education watchdog has sealed their revival by giving them a “good” rating.

Assistant headteacher Kathryn Hampshire said: “The fact that the report opens with that idea of us as leaders and our children being ‘resilient’ it just sums us up.”

Headteacher Ryan Cousins said he would never forget November 7, 2019 — the day of the big flood.

“We had to evacuate our school, then we had to find places to send our children over the weekend,” he said.

“We managed to get all our children into Swinton Fitzwilliam and Swinton Brookfield [Junior Academy], as they set up spare rooms for us.

“It was a nightmare because we had to get coaches — we were doing a whole school trip every day.

“We had to get them all on the bus and dropped them off at different schools.

“That lasted up until December and then we managed to get some temporary classrooms at Fitzwilliam school field which meant at least we were at one place.

“We settled up there.

“All the walls had to come down because they were of wood and the water soaked into them.”

Mr Cousins said the water had been at ankle-hight in the main building but in the outer building it had been above the desks.

Three years after, Mr Cousins and the staff try to look at it as a “blessing in disguise”, he said, adding: “In a way, it was good because when we put it back together we could rearrange slightly – there were some benefits that came out of it. The school looks amazing now.”

It was March 2021 when they finally moved back in — little did they know that a second flood was heading towards them.

Ms Hampshire said: “When the Covid restrictions were eased and all children came back for the final main time that was so exciting.

“We got another flood in February this year.

“Luckily, it didn’t get into the buildings.

“We had two classes in the hall for about a month and lost everything outside again — all that brand new equipment we’d had after Flood 1 got washed away pretty much.

“There are no wooden floorboards in the school, they’ve been replaced with concrete.

“Obviously, it’d still be horrendous because we'd have to be out of the school again but we’d be back a lot quicker.”

Mrs Hampshire said that the school now had systems in place to protect a lot of their things, adding: “It was a hard lesson to learn.”

Ofsted has also valued their efforts, with the school given a “good” score at this year’s inspection — the school’s first since the pandemic.

The report says “the leaders are resilient” and the classrooms are “calm and settled”.

It also adds that “reading has a high priority”.

Mrs Hampshire said: “Everyone’s had this horrendous pandemic to deal with but then to throw in what happen to us prior to that — it was probably more disruptive than the pandemic itself.”

However, the anxiety is still there and Mr Cousins said when it rains, staff are a little on edge — he even has an app so he can track water levels.

Mr Cousins said: “We’re more prepared should it happen again.

“Every time it rains heavily, I get really anxious.

“I have an app on my phone and it updates every half hour or 15 minutes so I’m constantly checking it.

“When you start seeing it, you start panicking.

“There are steps on the other side, and when they start disappearing, you’re like: ‘Oh no.’

“We’re well-trained, hardened and toughened up by the experiences.”

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