THE HEADTEACHER of a school ravaged by fire has told of the huge effort involved in getting pupils back into the classroom just one month later.
Children returned to St Paul's Primary School, in Brentford, on Monday (September 16), only two weeks after term was due to start.
Flames tore through the school on August 15 but staff have worked tirelessly since then to ensure the youngsters' education was not affected.
Pupils are still using neighbouring St Paul's Park as a makeshift playground but were able to return to hastily kitted out temporary classrooms in the school grounds this week.
During the previous fortnight, parents had been given study books so they could teach their children at home, while a school club was set up in the three remaining usable rooms of the fire-damaged building for pupils whose parents could not get time off work.
New headteacher John Wright was not due to take charge until September 1 but, in a true baptism of fire, returned from holiday with a huge task on his hands.
He said he was hugely grateful for the hard work of staff, parents and members of the community who helped ensure the school could re-open as soon as it did.
"Seeing the pupils come through the door on Monday was a real affirmation of the hard work that's gone on in the last four weeks," he said.
"This is my first headship so it was quite a strange feeling to find myself standing in front of a building destroyed by fire two weeks before I was even due to begin.
"But I've been struck by how effectively everyone at the school has worked and how the community's come together to help us."
The damaged building needs extensive work to the roof but it is expected to fully re-open in February next year, until when pupils will continue to use the park as a playground and assembly point.