Sewage leaks in Denton school trigger spike in staff sickness
Monday 13th February 2017 @ 10:08 by Nigel P.
Community Denton & Audenshaw News


Russell Scott Primary School in Denton has suffered yet another escape of raw sewage, again inside the school toilets used by key stage one pupils.

This latest sewage overflow began to emerge up from the main drain in the newly built £2m building, following the closure of the school’s nursery on Monday January 30th in a separate incident due to flooding.

As the burst from a storeroom radiator happened over the weekend, serious damage had already been done to the nursery’s fixtures and fittings.

School Governor, Elaine Healey posted on the school’s Facebook page: “We had a burst in the nursery store room where the cold water feed to a radiator blew off and water then ran continually until the water was cut off first thing on Monday morning.

“This has caused considerable damage to our newly refurbished nursery and is still drying out ready for work to start next week. All the carpets are being taken up, skirting and architraves removed, furniture and kitchen units skipped.”

Fortunately contractors already dealing with the leak from the radiator in the nursery storeroom helped to staunch the flow of sewage waste from the drain.

However ,the drain still remains blocked and the nursery section  of the school has had to be closed  and the ground floor lavatories designated for the key stage one children is now closed with the younger children having to use the junior pupil’s toilets upstairs.

Subsequently there has been a spike in illness amongst the staff and pupils, with outbreaks of stomach upsets forcing several teachers off work.

One parent Zoe Lehmann, who has two children attending the school said: “It is a disgrace that two years after the school was signed over to us, we are repeatedly having to deal with problems like this one.

“It is bad for the school’s morale, it is disruptive to the children’s education if they or staff are having to take time off for avoidable reasons like illness brought on by sewage backing up in a brand new building.”

It is not the first time the school has experienced problems with sewage escapes from within the building and in a separate issue parents are having to campaign to get the playing fields restored to how they were before Tameside’s preferred developers Carillon, who built the new school, began the development.

During the building process Carillon used the playing fields to site their offices, plant and materials for the £2 million development.

Subsequently the fields were stripped of grass and compacted with building waste debris, including half bricks, nails and pieces of glass.

During a freak rain storm last September the school’s playgrounds were also rendered unusable due to a film of grey sludge settling across the asphalted areas.

The sludge had come from turf that had been newly laid over the site area, the rain washed soil and sludge onto the playground which is set below  the height of the grassed area.

A thick layer of sludge ran off the grassed area surrounding the school playground covering the paths leading to classes and play areas at Russell Scott School, Denton

The state of the playing fields restricted the 500 pupils to the asphalted playgrounds that were so overcrowded two pupils had serious accidents due to overcrowding.

Russell Scott parents demonstrate the poor condition of playing fields they say are unfit for purpose for use by the school’s 500 pupils

Elaine Healey sought to assuage parents fears about the current leaks and flooding by adding: “(The Children) were able to access their classrooms the following morning without entering the contaminated area.

“You know we would not compromise your children’s safety, so the whole area is being cleaned and sanitised, top to bottom by deep cleaning experts who are in school now.
Please accept our sincere apologies but these problems are outside our direct control…”

It is understood there have been several CCTV surveys conducted down the affected main drain in an attempt to source the cause of the back flow problems going back to last year, but the problems persist.

A spokesperson for Tameside Council said: “As can occur with any school, Russell Scott Primary experienced a blocked drain on Wednesday 1 February towards the end of the school day. This resulted in a small amount of sewerage in the Key Stage one toilets which was dealt with and cleaned immediately with no disruption or closure of the school.

“The Council work closely with the school and have made routine return visits to check that there have been no further issues and a survey has been carried out to determine the cause of the blockage.

‘The closure of the nursery was a result of flooding following a boiler fault – the school management is dealing with this appropriately according to their procedures.

“We are fully aware of concerns raised by parents surrounding the playground facilities – the council, school, Chair of Governors and Carillion are all communicating and working together to resolve these.”

Last November Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne, met a delegation of Russell Scott parents who were raising their concerns about pupils playtime facilities and other building issues affecting the school.

In a forthright interview with the Tameside Reporter the MP said: “For the school going forward, we also need to sit down with the Council and Carillion and make sure they meet their obligations.”