Parracombe School fire: Four months on

Joseph Bulmer

Children’s education continues uninterrupted as authorities consider future for the building gutted by fire last autumn.

FOUR months on from a fire which devastated Parracombe Primary School, it is education as usual for its pupils thanks to an innovative system.

Three quarters of the school building was destroyed by the September 20 fire, but although it has yet to be rebuilt, it is also a member of the West Exmoor Federation together with Lynton and Kentisbury schools.

Headteacher Jayne Peacock said 14 older children were still on site at Parracombe in a classroom that had escaped the flames, whilst early years and Key Stage 1 children have been temporarily moved to Kentisbury.

Older pupils also spend one afternoon per week at Kentisbury for PE and another morning a week at Lynton.

“The benefit of the federation really came to the fore on the morning of the fire,” said Ms Peacock.

“By 9am every child at Parracombe was in a classroom learning as if the fire had not happened, so the disruption to the children was absolutely negligible.”

A number of fund raising events have been held by the Friends of Parracombe School and others in the surrounding community to help pick up the pieces.

“The community have been absolutely fantastic and the sense of support has been wonderful,” Ms Peacock added.

“It has been incredibly touching and I think staff and children alike have really benefited from that.”

The time table for the future is unclear, but she said a proposal had been submitted to the local authority to rebuild the school.

A Devon County Council spokesperson said the future was being discussed with the school and with the community:

“This is a church school and the ownership of the site is complex and in a number of different hands so considerable consultation has to take place,” they said.

“We are working with all parties, including the Diocese, to ensure a sustainable future for education in the area but we cannot yet give any more detail.”

A spokesperson for Exeter Diocese added: “We are supportive of the application to rebuild the fire damaged areas of Parracombe School. The school has an excellent record in serving the children of its surrounding area, and we hope it will continue to remain at the heart of this small, rural community.”