Temporary school built for pupils

A temporary secondary school complete with dance studio, art rooms and science labs is being built to house pupils whose academy at the base of Grenfell Tower has been closed since fire raged through the block.

The Kensington Aldridge academy (KAA) is relocating to a new site for the start of the academic year while police continue a forensic examination of the scene. Construction of the temporary school, just over one mile from the current site, is under way.

KAA has been closed since the fire at the 24-storey block of flats on 14 June. Two other nearby schools, the Burlington Danes academy and Latymer Upper school, took in hundreds of pupils for the last few weeks of term.

The school had hoped to reopen in September, but investigations are expected to continue until the end of the year and as yet there is no timetable for the tower to be covered. Staff are concerned about the psychological impact of the sight of the building’s blackened skeleton on children.

KAA’s buildings also need extensive cleaning following the fire and ventilation systems need checking.

The vast majority of KAA’s 900-plus pupils live within a half-mile radius of the school and the tower. Four pupils died in the fire, plus another who had recently left.

Over the next eight weeks, a temporary school is being constructed on land at Wormwood Scrubs, a large open space in the neighbouring borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, about a 20-minute walk from KAA.

It will comprise five blocks of Portakabins, close to Burlington Danes academy. “We had hoped to be back in our usual building by September, but that’s not possible so we are activating plan B. The important thing is that children have as normal an education as possible,” said a spokesperson for KAA

KAA is advertising for a maths and a physics teacher for the autumn term to cover two members of staff who have been seconded to provide pastoral support to students affected by the fire.

Some people who live near the temporary site for KAA have expressed concern at the impact of an extra 960 students – the number enrolled for the next academic year – in an area where about 1,200 children are already attending Burlington Danes academy. KAA is considering staggering its timetable to start and finish at different times to BDA.

“We’re going to be sandwiched between two massive secondary schools,” said a resident of the small Woodman Mews estate. “There is a rationale to the new site which completely stacks up, but there’s been no recognition of the impact on our lives and local infrastructure.”

KAA is negotiating with Transport for London for extra bus services from the Grenfell Tower area to the new site, and is “planning appropriate road safety measures … given the heavy traffic on Wood Lane”, Benson told parents.

The school opened three years ago as an academy specialising in performing and creative arts. It is sponsored by the Aldridge Foundation, which is responsible for eight academies.