Sussex

Selsey Academy fire: Roofing work 'most likely' cause

Selsey Academy fire Image copyright West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption Plumes of smoke spread across the town

A blaze that engulfed a secondary school was "most likely" an accident caused by a workman maintaining its roof, the fire service believes.

Selsey Academy in West Sussex suffered "extensive structural damage" and much of its contents were destroyed.

The school said it hoped to announce alternative arrangements for its 453 pupils on Thursday afternoon.

Head teacher Tom Garfield said he was dedicated to keeping schooling in Selsey "in the short and long term".

The Academy is the only secondary school on the Manhood peninsular and the nearest similar school is understood to be eight miles away in Chichester.

Mr Garfield told BBC Sussex he did not know how much of the building would be useable.

He said electronic pupil records were being restored from a cloud-based storage system but it was "difficult to tell what remains of written records".

He was consulting its sponsor, the Kemnal Academies Trust, the school's insurers, the Department for Education and West Sussex County Council.

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Media captionSmoke and flames were seen coming from Selsey Academy

West Sussex Fire and Rescue said the first 999 call came from a roofer to say a partition on the roof was alight.

Strong winds blew embers on to adjacent buildings as the fire took hold.

Deputy chief fire officer Gavin Watts said: "There was little that could be done to stop it spreading so quickly and it is a sad sight to see such a local asset so badly damaged.

"We were able to prevent it spreading to all parts of the school, however, and I'm particularly pleased there were no injuries reported.

"I'm also glad we were able to protect the neighbouring properties including the thatched houses that are part of Selsey's appeal."

Image copyright West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption The library building was saved but much of the school was a smoking ruin
Image copyright West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption Aerial pictures show the extent of the destruction at the school

Selsey Academy

  • Opened in September 2011 as part of the Kemnal Academies Trust
  • Formerly known as The Manhood School
  • Smaller than average mixed secondary with 453 students aged 11-16
  • Last year, 47% of GCSE students gained five or more A* to C passes including English and Maths
  • The school was rated inadequate in an Ofsted inspection in March 2013
  • A July 2014 inspection upgraded it to "requires improvement"
  • Current head teacher Tom Garfield took up his post in January 2016
  • The main building dates from the early 1960s
  • New drama and music facilities were added in 2004, a new sports hall in 2008 and new library in September 2012

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