Grenfell Tower fire: Closed school welcomed at new location

By: Jo Siedlecka

When the blaze began at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington yesterday, a primary school in its shadow was forced to close. But this morning, classes have resumed again - as the school has been moved to a new location nearby. St Francis of Assisi Primary School have been taken in by Sion Manning Catholic School for Girls in St Charles Square.

Headteacher Mr Andrew O’Neil told ICN: “When we saw what was happening yesterday, we had a good idea they would be closed, so we contacted their headteacher Kathleen Williams and got organised quite quickly.”

Parents were contacted by text and email. Mr O’Neil said: “We managed to achieve a lot in a short time…We have re-roomed eight classes and a library. They’ve got a pretty good place in the school and have their own entrance.”

“Its keeping us all busy. For our students, seeing all the little ones coming in helps to take their minds off what’s happened.”

St Francis has 260 pupils. There are 140 in today.

Mr O’Neil said Sion Manning School didn’t have any pupils in the tower block.

“We’re just trying to keep up normal routines. Making sure staff are out and about there with the children.”

“There aren’t any words to make things better. We’re just standing with the pupils."

The situation is still unfolding. Seventeen people are known to have died. Nearly 80 people are being treated in hospital with 17 in critical conditions. The 24 storey building had 120 flats and between 400-600 residents. Hundreds are still unaccounted for.

Rosemary Keenan, Director of the Catholic Children's Society, which is based near Sion Manning School, told ICN: “The impact of this event will have a significant effect on children and their parents in the area for many years to come.”

See also: ICN 14 June 2017 Cardinal Nichols, Bishop Wilson pray for victims of Grenfell Tower fire

and: ICN 14 June 2017 London: Grenfell Tower fire - churches run collection points

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