Head's vow to rebuild arson-hit school

AS he stood amid the ruins of his fire-ravaged school, an Ipswich headteacher today vowed to work tirelessly to open in time for the start of next term.

AS he stood amid the ruins of his fire-ravaged school, an Ipswich headteacher today vowed to work tirelessly to open in time for the start of next term.

Laurie Robinson, head of arson-hit Copleston High, also heaped praise on the army of volunteers who have already come forward to offered help, including many pupils past and present.

Speaking for the first time since the devastating blaze on Sunday night, Laurie Robinson revealed that he had cut short a family holiday in Yorkshire to begin the massive clean-up operation.

And he thanked pupils, former pupils, staff and parents who have all pulled together in the wake of the suspected arson attack.

Mr Robinson said: “When I arrived at school last night, I was met by a whole crowd of pupils and former pupils who came up to me and said 'I want to help - put my name down on the list'.

“It was a lovely moment. It's great that the pupils care about their school.

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“I won't make a final decision on whether the school will be open or not for the start of term until I have taken advice from the fire service and the structural engineers, but I can say we are working very hard and we hope we will be open on time.

“We will let parents know through the local press.

“We have had excellent support from the fire service and Suffolk County Council, as well as from the staff of the school and students and parents.”

The first floor staff room has been ravaged, with a large crack appearing in one side of the 1930s art deco structure.

Also hit by the main blaze was a science lab, while the offices and a PE classroom beneath the first floor room are also at risk.

The fire service handed the building back to the school this morning and county council engineers were expected on site during the afternoon to assess the full extent of the fire.

Around an inch of water remains in the corridors around the worse hit areas, as does the dank smell left by the inferno.

Mr Robinson said it could be the water that causes the biggest challenge in reopening the school for the start of term.

Speaking as the fire service pulled out of the school, assistant divisional officer Paul Seager, said: “We are treating the fire as suspicions. There is no obvious cause and no obvious use of accelerants but we are reasonably satisfied it was malicious ignition.

“Police are continuing criminal investigations but our investigation is pretty much complete.”

Mr Seager said two trampolines had been set on fire in the school's gymnasium.

He added: “I presume a lighter or match were used to ignite something combustible in the staff room area. It is always difficult to tell exactly what was used.”

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