Parents feel they were “kept in the dark” after the discovery of toxic asbestos on school grounds was not mentioned in a letter explaining why the beginning of the new academic year was delayed.
Belmont School, in Hibbert Road, Harrow Weald, was expecting to welcome its incoming reception class on September 15, however parents were informed yesterday that the start to their school lives must be delayed due to ‘unforeseen challenges’, which getwestlondon has learned was the discovery of unsafe asbestos, not mentioned in the letter.
Workers made the discovery three weeks ago while working on expanding the school’s building in line with Harrow’s borough-wide expansion project after demolishing one of the school’s existing features.
One concerned parent, who asked not to be named, said: “I think it is a disgrace that we have been told at the last minute and kept in the dark.
“If we do not send our children to school, we get rightly punished. But what happens to them if they tell us they cannot teach our children? Nothing.
“It is one rule for them, and another rule for the rest of us.
“What have they been doing all summer that they only got round to letting us know yesterday about something so serious?”
Children from Years 1 to 6 began school today as normal, however delays have meant that the all-new reception building is not yet completed.
Writing to parents, headteacher Lindsey Shaw said: “I would like to apologise for this delay, and Harrow Council and the project team have asked me to apologise to you on their behalf, as well.
“The contractors have encountered some unforeseen challenges in completing their work on the Reception classes, and I am told that the one week delay is unavoidable.
“We believe that it is vital that your child has the best possible experience of Belmont School on their first day – with all facilities in place and a welcoming and settled environment for the start of their journey through education.”
A spokesman for Harrow Council said that there is no cause for alarm or concern about the asbestos found at the school, adding that buildings of this age contain asbestos.
He added: “The normal Health & Safety Executive (HSE) procedures are being followed for its removal, including a 14-day notice to the HSE.
“This has contributed to a slight delay to part of the summer works at Belmont.
“The school sent a general letter to Reception parents this week to apologise and notify them of this delay.
"It concentrated on the arrangements for pupils, and as usual contained no specific details about the particulars of the building work.
“It also promises another personalised letter to discuss their children’s school start in more detail.”