South Croydon primary forced to close due to ‘safety concerns’

Regina Coeli, a large Catholic primary school in South Croydon, has been closed today due to “some concerns about the safety of the building”, according to a note hurriedly distributed to parents and carers last night.

Safety concerns: Regina Coeli’s 400-plus pupils have been warned not to turn up for school today

The zero-notice closure is to be extended across the whole of next week and the following week, which was the planned half-term break. The school will not open again before Monday, October 30.

The school issued a brief statement when contacted by Inside Croydon in which they refused to specify what had caused their “safety concerns”.

The school has said that the cause of the closure is not “crumbling concrete”, or RAAC – Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete – which has caused the closure or part-closure of hundreds of schools around the country at the start of this school year.

RAAC was a cheap construction material used in mostly public buildings that were built from the 1960s to 1980s.

Regina Coeli, on Pampisford Road, has a main building that dates from the 19th Century: Kendra Hall, a grand Victorian house that was once the home to the Allders family, founders of the town centre department store. There are more recent buildings on the site, the newest block having opened in 1995.

The school has around 420 pupils, aged from four to 11.

No reason given: Frances Hawkes, Regina Coeli’s exec head, has refused to explain the sudden closure

The sudden closure will cause considerable disruption to their families, who at no notice have to arrange childcare for today and next week.

The note to parents issued last night said, “Regina Coeli has had a building survey this week under the direction of the Diocese. There are some concerns about the safety of the building – none of these are related to RAAC.

“There is work to be done to ensure the safety of pupils and therefore the school will be closed from today Thursday 12th October until the end of half-term…”.

The school claims that the lost days of teaching “will be made up throughout the academic year”.

The note continued: “Please do not send your children into school tomorrow and remember the next two weeks will be considered half-term… The school will keep you informed throughout this time of any significant matters.”

The “significant matter” of what has caused the school’s sudden closure, though, remains unexplained.

The note said that the decision to close Regina Coeli had been taken with the Catholic Diocese of Southwark and the Department for Education. It makes no mention of Croydon Council.

In the statement issued this morning by the school’s executive headteacher, Frances Hawkes, she said, “The safety of our pupils and staff is our utmost priority so as a precaution, the whole school will close for half-term a week early while the necessary works are completed.

“We will do all we can to minimise disruption to our pupils and get them back in the classroom as quickly as possible.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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3 Responses to South Croydon primary forced to close due to ‘safety concerns’

  1. derek thrower says:

    Must be very non reassuring for a parent of a child at the school and the insult of having to make last minute unexpected childcare decisions. They should at least provide some indication of the risk that their children are facing and why this drastic last minute action has been taken. They owe these people an explanation about what is happening and indicates very poor senior management decision making. Probably trying to cover up the past negligence that has led to this situation.

  2. MatthewP says:

    Why would they do this a month into the beginning of the school year? Why couldn’t they have announced it back in May or after Easter?

  3. Simon says:

    Still no explanation but Mrs Hawkes had her retirement event….. Very poor management not just to say why, as above it suggests previous neglect by Mrs Hawkes.

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