Show goes on at fire-hit school

Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College pupils going back to school', with headteacher Kathryn McNicholas
Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College pupils going back to school', with headteacher Kathryn McNicholas
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An open evening to attract new students to a fire-ravaged Leyland school will go ahead this week.

As the community continues to pull together to help bring Leyland St Mary’s back to its feet following the blaze at the Royal Avenue site earlier this month, the headteacher is hoping prospective parents can see past the building’s devastation.

More than 400 textbooks have also been donated to the school following the damage, as students and staff work from an ex-school building in Preston.

Headteacher Kathy McNicholas said: “Our first week in our new temporary home has gone very well.

“We’ve all settled in quickly, even our Year 7 starters who have had an extraordinary start to their secondary education, to say the least.

“Everyone has been helping them feel welcome.

“There’s a huge amount to do, dealing with the aftermath of the fire, and I know this will continue for months to come, but it was a real relief to be able to get down to some ‘normal’ school business.”

Prospective parents and pupils for the 2014 intake are now invited to meet staff and students, see displays of resources and pupils’ work, and learn about the future plans for the school at an open evening this Thursday, September 26.

St Mary’s Parish Church in Broadfield Drive will host the evening, which starts at 6pm with an address from Miss McNicholas.

“We’ve said before that our school is a community of people, not a building – and this is the proof,” Miss McNicholas said.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming prospective parents and pupils from Years 5 and 6 to our open evening, and although the venue may be a little unusual, I am confident that the ethos of our school and the standard of education we can offer will be clear for all to see.

“We want people to come along and see what St Mary’s has to offer.”

A plan is now in place to get some of the year groups back to Leyland soon, using undamaged buildings, whilst the remaining pupils will return in January once more provision is in place, such as temporary accommodation.

Meanwhile, educational publisher Nelson Thornes has joined the ever-increasing group of individuals and businesses coming to the rescue of Leyland St Mary’s, by donating 140 science textbooks.

The fire is believed to have started in a ‘den’ outside the science block in the afternoon of Sunday, September 1, and all of the science building was

destroyed.

The donation of the AQA GCSE textbooks is helping to make science lessons a reality again.

Neil Walker, head of science at the school, said: “We have been delighted by everyone’s generous response to our situation.

“I believe I speak on behalf of all at Leyland St Mary’s, and in particular the science department, when I say that such kind offers have been vital in allowing us to get lessons up and running again for our students, for which we are very grateful.”

It has also now been confirmed that only a very limited amount of students’ GCSE coursework was lost in the fire.

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council told the Guardian that the vast bulk of work already done by last year’s Year 10 pupils, who have this month moved up to Year 11, have electronic backup copies.

All of the artwork, which cannot be backed up on computers, has been checked and is all safe.

However, a ‘very limited’ amount of technology coursework was lost in the blaze, and will have to be re-done this academic year.