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Primary school forced to close five times in three months due to ‘failing’ £358k heat pump | UK | News UK News

A faltering heat pump forced a school to shut its doors five times in under three months, leaving parents exasperated as they claim they’ve been forced to collect their children with little notice.

Kingsnorth Primary in Ashford, Kent received its first pump – a type of ultra-efficient gas boiler alternative designed to be more environmentally friendly – in summer 2023.

Officials installed the units as part of a government initiative to cut school carbon emissions in Kent, but the plans have not panned out as hoped.

The failing pumps have left classes without power and heating on several occasions, forcing teachers to send pupils home.

The persistant failures have enraged parents, many of whom have complained about having to leave full-time jobs to come and collect their children on short notice.

Kingsnorth was first forced to close early on November 30 last year when gas and electricity stopped working and staff were unable to provide food for the children.

A second failure followed just over a week later on December 6, forcing another all-day closure, with a third, fourth and fifth happening in quick succession on January 10, 11 and 12 this year.

Parents have claimed they were only informed of these decisions with “random messages”, one mum said, with another saying they were “getting annoyed” at the short notice.

The mum, who asked not to be named, said: “Whenever there is an issue, we get random messages during the day to say come pick your children up.”

“I work full time and I can’t always just leave my job. We keep being told it will get sorted as quickly as possible, but it has been going on for too long now.”

Another mum said she was “really worried” the repeated need to pick up her children would mean she loses her job, and called on the school to “get it sorted”.

She added one of her year six children is preparing to study the SATs this year, but they have now “lost five days of learning”.

A spokesperson for Aquila Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust, which runs 16 schools in Kent and commissioned the heat pumps, apologised for the issues and said it was working to rectify the issue by installing a power backup.

They said: “We apologise for the inconvenience and disruption caused to Kingsnorth Primary School’s pupils and families and we want to assure the community that we have been, and are continuing to, do everything within our power to rectify this situation as quickly as possible.

“Our priority has always been to keep Kingsnorth open, but there have been occasions where we have had no choice but to close due to a complete failure of the heating system, electrical power issues, and the associated wider safety concerns.”

They added: “We have planned to install an additional power source for part of the new heating system so we can remove some of the electrical load from the school’s electrics and have the system fully operational as intended,” the spokesperson explained.

“These works are planned for the week commencing January 22 while the school remains fully open and operational. Once this has been completed, we will have all specialists on-site to reinstate the air source heat pump system.”

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This notice was published: 2024-01-21 20:32:00

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