Cardiff primary was shut to youngest pupils because there's no phoneline

By Abbie Wightwick

A Cardiff primary was closed to its youngest pupils at the start of term - because there was no phone line to their classrooms.

St Fagans Primary school is understood to have reopened on Monday to Foundation Phase pupils after the line was installed.

Rhodri Davies, chair of the school's governing body, told angry parents that the council is to blame, which in turn blamed the telecommunications firm involved.

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In a strongly worded letter Mr Davies claimed Cardiff Council “do not understand the gravity of the situation” and that a phone line is vital for pupil safety in case of emergencies.

“Effectively there is no reliable communication between the main school building (KS2) and the Barn (FP) to deal with emergencies and the longer this “temporary situation” goes on the greater the risk of a serious incident occurring,” he warned.

The building for the school’s four Foundation Phase years, known as the Barn, had no landline, no reliable mobile phone access and is separate from the main school building.

Mr Davies said headteacher Ceri Hawkins had done all she could but it was in the council’s hands and potentially risky to have children in without a phone line.

One angry mother said key stage one classes in the school had now missed five days of school because of Covid and phone line problems

“St Fagans primary school have yet again had to close for foundation phase due to the local authority not carrying out agreed works on the school. This will be the fifth school day in addition to Covid that our children have missed because of the building work,” she said .

“The school also hasn’t been able to use the hall for two years as the school are using it for a temporary staff room. This means that the children cannot access breakfast club, PE, assembly or school dinners (currently only sandwiches or pasta pot available).

“The whole situation has been poorly handled its ridiculous. How are people supposed to work?”

YC Sports is one of the biggest suppliers in Cardiff (South Wales Echo)

Mr Davies’ letter, dated September 9, said that at a meeting that day governors agreed the phone line should have been fitted and it was not safe for pupils to come in to the Barn until it is.

The letter went on: “Governors were utterly dismayed at the local authority’s complete lack of progress in delivering on their promises of providing a landline to the Barn (Foundation Phase) bearing in mind that there is no reliable mobile phone signal at all up at the barn and an internet connection throughout the school (sic).

“The Governing Body unanimously agreed the situation is unacceptable and is a safeguarding issue for pupils in the Foundation Phase.

“The situation is slightly different for Key Stage Two classes (years three, four five and six) as we at least have a landline in the main school.

“Effectively there is no reliable communication between the main school building (KS2) and the Barn (FP) to deal with emergencies and the longer this temporary situation goes on the greater the risk of a serious incident occurring.

“To that extent, and with regret, it is the decision of the Governing Body that the nursery, reception, year one and year two classes will close tomorrow (September 10) and until the council can provide us with the necessary communications.

“The year one and two class teachers will provide work online from Monday if the situation has not been resolved by then.”

The letter adds that “Miss Hawkins (headteacher) and staff have done everything within their powers to ensure that permanent solutions are in place in order to keep the entire school open but it has become apparent that the local authority does not understand the gravity of the situation.”

A Cardiff Council spokeswoman said: “St Fagan’s Primary School is receiving in the region of £1.4 investment from Cardiff Council and the Welsh Government to transform the school, providing 21st century school standard teaching and learning opportunities.

“During the works, an error by the telecommunication provider resulted in the cancellation of an order for the school, which was completely outside of the council’s control.

"However, as soon as the council was made aware of the issue, senior officers have worked extensively to resolve matters, putting many interim measures in place.

"The council has escalated the issue to the managing director of the telecommunication company to obtain a revised installation date as a matter of urgency and has done everything it can to avoid and resolve the situation.”

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