Pupils and staff in all year groups have been reunited under one roof at St Edward’s Catholic Voluntary Academy after being split across two sites for almost six months.

In September 2023 Years 3 to 6 at St Edward’s, in Swadlincote, had to move temporarily to their partner secondary school, Blessed Robert Sutton Catholic Voluntary, in Burton.

The move followed a Government announcement about issues in schools where Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) had been identified.

St Edward’s was forced to delay the start to term in September by a week whilst alternative arrangements were made. Children in Nursery to Year Two were able to be safely accommodated at St Edward’s.

Since then, various investigations have been carried out at St Edward’s, which is part of the St Ralph Sherwin Catholic Multi Academy Trust, and this month a large-scale operation to install a mix of horizontal and vertical props across the school began.

Four classrooms have been propped along with internal walkways, toilets and the staffroom. Props are currently being installed in the school hall. Once this is completed the whole process will have taken 5 weeks.

The school has recently been placed on the Government’s School Rebuilding programme which means that it has been deemed eligible to be added to a list of schools to have one or more blocks rebuilt or refurbished. No further details have been given at this stage.

Headteacher Kay Methven received news about the partial closure of St Edward’s on her first day of headship in September 2023.

She said: “We are delighted to have everyone back at St Edward’s. The staff have worked really hard to get the school ready and it looks amazing. The children have settled back in beautifully and it’s nice to see the older and younger children together again. As well as thanking staff, we would also like to thank our parents who have been so understanding, patient, supportive and so positive. We would also like to thank the Trust’s Estates Team for all of their hard work and the staff at Blessed Robert Sutton for making us feel so welcome.

“The children aren’t bothered by the props and the teachers have been quite creative, decorating some with ivy and butterflies and creating a camouflage area.”

Naz Prabatani, Acting Assistant Headteacher and Year 4 teacher, said: “It feels like being back at home again, it’s absolutely amazing, that feeling of being back together. When we came through the doors it still has that family feeling even though the building looks different. The children have adapted so well. I think some of them miss being at Blessed Robert Sutton, because their siblings might be there, but I don’t think they miss travelling there and back on the coaches. It’s been great to have the older children back with the younger children, they have loved seeing each other.”

Pupil Anna, eight, said: “It was strange because at the end of the first day I was thinking that I had to get a coach back to school but I didn’t! Being back at St Edward’s felt like being back at home, it was really calm and really beautiful. I don’t care about the props in the classrooms. It’s been lovely to be able to see my sister in Year Two and brother, in Nursery, again.”

Pupil Leo, nine, said: “It was strange in September when all of a sudden we couldn’t come to school at St Edward’s. Going to Blessed Robert Sutton was fun and I got to see my older sister. It’s nice to be back at St Edward’s, some things are a bit different with the props being here but it’s better to be here.”

Kevin Gritton, Chief Executive of the St Ralph Sherwin Catholic Multi Academy Trust, said: “It’s fantastic to see pupils and staff back together at St Edward’s and we would like to thank staff, pupils, parents and the whole school community for all of their hard work, dedication and support through such a challenging period. We would also like to thank our Estates Team centrally for everything they have done to support St Edward’s over the past six months and all of the staff at Blessed Robert Sutton.”