Heating problems close Norfolks schools

Sarah BrealeyHundreds of children had an extra day off yesterday as a clutch of Norfolk schools ran out of heating oil or gas.Sarah Brealey

Hundreds of children had an extra day off yesterday as a clutch of Norfolk schools ran out of heating oil or gas.

One school was forced to close its doors to children because thieves siphoned off its heating oil, leaving staff waiting for an emergency delivery.

The lengthy cold snap meant some of the schools used more fuel than expected to keep their heating ticking over during the Christmas holidays.

Most had enough in hand to open for the new term, but seven remained closed because they did not have the fuel to heat their classrooms.

Banham Primary, near Attleborough, should reopen today after supplies of heating oil were delivered to replace the oil siphoned off by thieves.

Police said it happened between December 18 and January 2. About 1,000 litres of heating oil was taken and anyone with information is asked to contact the Attleborough Safer Neighbourhood Team on 0845 456 4567.

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Linda Cullum, headteacher at Morley Primary School, near Wymondham, said schooling was cancelled for children in the main building, in reception and years one and two, but continued for older children in three mobile classrooms.

She said: 'We have an intelligent heating system that stops the main building freezing up and it used all the oil up during the Christmas holiday.'

Norfolk County Council's children's services spokesman Kate Gooding said: 'We are currently experiencing a very cold winter and this is having an impact.

'Some schools have experienced issues with their heating at the beginning of the new term, due to the prolonged period of cold weather. Current temperatures mean that these schools cannot stay open.'

She said schools were advised to 'use the frost setting on their boilers' during the holidays to keep their systems from freezing.

She added: 'However, the prolonged cold spell has meant some schools have needed to use more fuel than usual and do not now have sufficient fuel to maintain their heating systems. Individual schools are responsible for making sure that their fuel supply is adequate but some have been affected by the unusually cold winter.'