IT WAS a bittersweet day for a Brentford school that recently went up in flames as pupils were forced to take two extra weeks of holiday.
The majority of children at St Paul's CE Primary School stayed at home this week as pupils from all over the UK headed back to school after the long Summer holidays.
Following the destruction of 70 to 80 per cent of the 250-pupil school on August 15, parents, staff and the London Diocesan Board for Schools (LDBS) have rallied together to ensure children could get back to school.
However, with such a vast proportion of the school destroyed by the fire and subsequent water damage from firefighters putting it out, they have had to ask parents who can, to keep their children at home until they can get eight temporary classrooms built.
Families who have two working parents were allowed to take their children back to school on Tuesday, with teachers holding an educational club while those at home have been given workbooks focusing on reading, writing and maths.
In the middle of the the havoc, the school has welcomed in a new headteacher, John Wright, who certainly had a difficult task to greet him.
He's taken it all in his stride, and said: "It was quite a shock to hear about the fire, it's not something you expect when you're starting at a new school but I'm just glad nobody was hurt.
"I've been so impressed with everybody - the parents, governors, staff and the LDBS - they've all dealt with the situation incredibly well. Without all of them we couldn't have got the area ready for kids who can't be at home. Parents have been very understanding; so many have helped us out by keeping their children at home while we get the blocks built, hopefully we can start as a full school on September 16."
Mr Wright, who comes to the school from Christ the Saviour CE Primary School in Ealing, said it was actually a good way to meet parents because they've all come together in a crisis and been fantastic.
Sara Ward, who is a governor at the school, said Mr Wright has done really well and is doing everything he can to get the school up and running.
She added: "We've had offers from people all over the community. The council has let us store the undamaged things in Alexandra House nearby, Brentford Football Club Sports Trust have offered us a space for the children, St Paul's Church are holding the club for children who can't be at home, and all the parents have bent over backwards to help, we're so grateful.
"The team at the school have done amazingly well and I'm so proud of them."
It is widely accepted that builders installing a skylight accidentally started the fire and the school's insurance is dealing with claims.