United by the flood: husband and wife heads

10th August 2007 at 01:00
He plays Good Samaritan, taking in her pupils to work side-by-side with his until repairs are done

FLOODING IN the Hull area has brought together a pair of married headteachers in a way they might never have imagined.

Headteacher Linda Rimmer and pupils at Burton Pidsea primary in the East Riding of Yorkshire were forced to abandon their school after the deluge towards the end of the summer term.

But a Good Samaritan was at hand in the shape of her husband, Paul. As head of nearby Hedon primary, he agreed to take them in until Burton Pidsea is repaired.

Mr Rimmer's school is much larger: it has more than 240 pupils. The 60 Burton Pidsea pupils will be based in its music room and information technology suite.

"If I have to share my school, then who better to share it with than my wife's school?" Mr Rimmer said.

Unlike a marriage, the union between the two primaries will be temporary, he said. "This is not an amalgamation, it is a temporary relocation. So it is absolutely crucial that we keep the spirits and ethos of each school separate."

Mrs Rimmer agreed. "It is very important for the children that we keep our schools separate and that we keep our identity," she said.

Everyone will be able to tell the schools apart because of the different colour of their uniforms: navy blue for Burton Pidsea and sky blue for Hedon.

"I'm delighted that the children have coped so well," Mrs Rimmer said. "It was a more daunting task for the younger ones, who weren't used to so many other pupils or getting on a bus to go to school, but they have all been brilliant."

An East Riding council spokeswoman said repair work at Burton Pidsea should be completed by the end of the autumn term. The water on the ground floor was only 9in deep but did pound;250,000 of damage. It is one of 13 schools in East Yorkshire forced to close early because of flood damage in June.

Other schools in the South were affected by the flooding in July. St David's primary in the Cotswold town of Moreton-in-Marsh has been identified as the most seriously damaged school in Gloucestershire. A council spokeswoman said it would cost about pound;1 million and could take up to nine months. But, with the aid of mobile classrooms, the school plans to reopen on time in September, she said.

The county's total bill for repairs to its flooded schools was estimated to cost more than pound;1.5 million.

Local authority officials from Gloucestershire and the other counties worst hit by the floods in July met civil servants at the Department for Children, Schools and Families last week to discuss the impact on education in its area. The department has promised pound;4 million to repair schools in the Midlands, after setting aside pound;10 million to help schools in Yorkshire, the Humber and Hull.

A department spokesman said: "We hope to make an announcement on area-by-area allocations as soon as possible. Around 120 schools in all areas were damaged by the July floods, though we expect that figure to rise when we have more information."

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