Update on how education continues in temporary accommodation, and plans for the restoration of St Mary's school.

See also:

Post July Storm School Report

Report and photos from Clare Ryan, 24th October 2019

After approximately 2 months located at 'temporary school', staff and children are getting used to the short term location of St Mary's School.

Class 5 (minus the IGCSE candidates - who were sitting exams at the time of the photo)

For those who know the Settlement, we are currently located in the cabins that formed the residential accommodation for the construction workers who built the new hospital. The building is bright, warm and functioning well as temporary school. Crèche is normally located in the two front rooms of the building and have welcomed us to their site.

The classrooms are smaller than we are used to, but everyone is managing well. The younger children in Playgroup have the benefit of the largest room which gives them more space for practical learning and direct access onto our small playground.

The classrooms for the older children are resourced with furniture brought up from school and resources that were salvaged after the storm. We aren't as lucky with outdoor space at this site, so for Games and PE lessons, we walk back to the American Field on the east side of the settlement. As we have no school hall here, on raining days we aren't able to teach Games and PE lessons.

Left: Class 1 working in their temporary classroom.

The temporary school has recently been connected to the internet. This is a key school resource, which allows staff to respond to email much more promptly and improves the communication between St Mary's School and other schools. Access to the Internet means that lessons can use high-quality resources and that staff and children have access to the internet for research. We are very grateful to the team from the communications department who have reconnected us, and to the hospital staff who have been sharing their internet with us and happily welcoming staff to the hospital to check emails etc.

At old school (as the children affectionately refer to our normal school site) resources not needed in the short term are boxed up and placed in the dry classrooms that are on the north side of the building. Staff have access to the old school and are able to access resources when needed, so as to limit the disruption to children's learning.

The damage at old school was mainly as a result of water entering the building when the roofs on the east side of the school and the hall (located on the west side of the central quad) were blown off. The computer lab suffered a lot of water damage and we lost several laptops.

Right: Playgroup at snack time

The toilets, redecorated and refurbished shortly before the storm, also suffered from a lot of water damage. Class 1, Class 4 and Playgroup are the worst affected classrooms. The library suffered when a window was blown in and some books have been water damaged.

As expected, there are some frustrations and challenges involved with relocating the classroom but the staff and children are demonstrating resilience and adaptability. Special mention should be made of our IGCSE students who have coped well with the disruption to their learning and are sitting their IGCSE exams during October and November.

Sean Burns, giving a general update on July Storm damage repairs, included this paragraph about the school:

The teams will combine and focus on the school, which we hope will be ready for the January start. That work will need completing before mid-December. The school are in the process of compiling a list of materials and equipment they lost in the storm that money raised by the Tristan da Cunha Association and fundraisers on St Helena and have very kindly helped with. This is much appreciated.

Left: Class 4's small temporary classroom. No doubt they look forward to returning to their classroom with a view of the sea.

The Tristan da Cunha Association's Emergency Fund Update

The Tristan da Cunha Association has made £10,000 available to support getting St Mary's School back to proper working order and continues to invite donations to the Emergency Fund established in the first instance to provide funding for education facilities lost in the July 2019 Storm.

Following the Tristan da Cunha Government’s assessment of the storm damage, the UK Government has provided funding for most essential repairs and restoration. Thankfully therefore, the need for additional relief has been very much reduced. The Tristan Association has accordingly revised the target for its Emergency Fund down to £25,000, with a £10,000 target through the JustGiving campaign.