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Head with glass hall throws out warning

IT'S hot in the summer, too light to see overhead projections, too noisy for gym sessions, and took two years to complete.

Aside from that, Woolaston primary, near Lydney, Gloucestershire, is pleased with its glass-roofed hall - paid for with pound;250,000 from the Government's New Deal for Schools fund.

The school has had to fork out pound;9,000 for curtains over the glazing and maintenance is not easy, either: replacing cracked glazing requires the hire of a pound;500-a-day cherrypicker crane, scaffolding and four workmen.

Now Martin Bell, the school's headteacher, wants to warn other heads involved in similar building projects that they should "check, check and check again".

"What should have been a fantastic addition to the school has caused me so much aggravation. You can't assume common sense among people who are not used to working in a school," he said.

"Huge sheets of glass run the length of the hall. It causes problems with too much light, which you can't control. It's overheated in the summer. Sound bounces off everything - PE lessons were a nightmare because everything echoed."

Keith Lane, an education client manager with Gloucestershire county council, said there had been extensive consultations on the initial plans for 200-pupil Woolaston. The design - of glass panels at the pitch of the roof - had been used in other schools without problems.

However, things have changed since the Woolaston project (although not as a result of it), with the county drawing on a panel of around 60 consultants rather than a single firm.

Officers are trying to involve schools and pupils in project development, and seek feedback after works are completed. The council is also considering offering training workshops for heads.

Mr Lane said: "There will always be schools saying this hasn't quite worked how we wanted it to work. But what we now have in place tries to eliminate that as much as possible."

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