Starting on the road to recovery

A TIDE of optimism was sweeping through Copleston today as the arson hit school began its long recovery. Fire tore through offices, staff rooms, science labs and a PE classroom on Sunday night causing hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage.

A TIDE of optimism was sweeping through Copleston today as the arson hit school began its long recovery.

Fire tore through offices, staff rooms, science labs and a PE classroom on Sunday night causing hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage.

But despite the devastation, volunteers, staff and contractors were working tirelessly today to try to ensure the school opened for the autumn term on September 6.

Headteacher Laurie Robinson said an air of positivity and defiance was driving the school forward. He said: “It's in our nature that we are problem solvers - it's what we do for a living. This is a different problem but everyone is working hard to solve it.

“The task we face is to assess how many students we can have in the school and how we can manage their movement.”

Structural engineers have condemned the parts of the first floor worst affected. Demolition will take place soon.

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In the meantime a double and a single temporary classroom have been ordered as has a double science lab.

They are expected to be delivered by early next week.

Mr Robinson said: “There are concerns over the safety of the walls and the steels. Once the first floor has been demolished engineers will then assess the damage caused to the ground floor. We now know we have to manage the school without the rooms in that area and without a corridor which runs as a main artery through the school.”

Senior staff were today formulating a plan of action and deciding upon the best location for the temporary facilities. Staff again thanked the fire fighters who prevented the fire from destroying more of the school.

Meanwhile the sixth form was open for business today with special advice sessions taking place as planned.

Councillor Jeremy Pembroke, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “This is a major exercise for everyone involved with Copleston High School.

“I would personally like to thank the school for its calm leadership in the face of this devastating incident.

“I would also like to pay tribute to our firefighters throughout Suffolk for their professionalism, without which the damage may have been considerably worse.

“In the next days, weeks and months, the county council will be working alongside the school's staff and governors, specialist contractors and volunteers drawn from parents and the local community.

“Our single aim is to ensure that Copleston High School emerges fully renewed from this terrible fire.”

The school has created a section on its website dedicated to the fire. There are pictures of the damage caused by the blaze as well as a space for messages which will carry information about when the school will be opening.

COPLESTON is one of the largest schools in Suffolk with 1,803 pupils - 371 in the sixth form which the school shares with Holywells.

It had been celebrating a summer of exam successes, with pupils achieving strong results in GCSEs and A-levels.

Debbie Chittock, of Henslow Road, has two children at Copleston, one going into year nine and one who will be starting in year seven.

She said she was disgusted to hear that police believed arson could well have been the cause of the blaze.

She continued: “I was very sad and angry when I heard about the Copleston fire.

“I hope they catch the ignorant morons who did this and plaster their faces all over the local papers.

“They shouldn't get away with it.”

One student from Copleston who is about to start year eight said: “When I was told, I was shocked - I thought how could this happen?

“I couldn't believe it, I called all of my friends and told them.

“I don't think that the year sevens' parents will want them coming to our school.”

Another pupil said: “It was surprising that the fire happened. I thought it was safer than that and because of this maybe people might be scared that it might happen again, you never know.”

An 18-year-man from Ipswich arrested on suspicion of arson on the night of the blaze, was released on bail on Monday until October 5 pending further inquiries.

N Anyone with information about the blaze should call detective sergeant John Dolan on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

N Anyone with video footage of the blaze should call ADO Seager on 01473 588888.

N Has the fire at Copleston affected you or your family? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail to

SCHOOLS in the area have already contacted Copleston to offer their help.

Britannia Primary, Parkside PRU, Holywells High and Northgate High have vowed to assist and support the school by which ever means necessary.

Northgate headteacher Neil Watts said he spoke to Copleston head Laurie Robinson shortly after news of the fire broke.

He said: “My first reaction as a colleague and with us being a fellow school was to call and say 'sorry' and to offer any practical help we could.

“That may be physical in terms of providing books or resources or it could be providing an extra pair of hands.

“It might even be the offer of accommodation in extreme circumstances.

“You hope you are never in that position, but if you were you would want people to respond in the same way.”


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