More than 27,000 Suffolk pupils missed school due to flooding in past year, data shows

By Derek Davis

1st Mar 2024 | Local News

School days lost across the county (Picture: Nub News)
School days lost across the county (Picture: Nub News)

More than 27,000 Suffolk pupils have missed school due to severe flooding in the past year, new data shows.

The figures, obtained following a Freedom of Information request, show that a total of 124 school days, across 99 different Suffolk schools, have been lost due to closures between January 1, 2023, and January 31, 2024.

The data followed a year marked by severe flooding which saw the likes of storms Babet, Ciaran, and Henk terrorise local communities across the county.

Due to October's storm Babet alone, 800 properties across Suffolk were confirmed to have been internally flooded, prompting the council to dedicate £1m to investigate over 60 separate incidents within the next 18 months.

Out of the 124 missed school days, 110 were directly related to weather events, including storms, snow, and flooding, while a further seven were due to burst water pipes and no water available in schools — there have also been five due to problems with power, heating, and electrics, and two due to staffing issues.

In total, the closures have affected 27,381 pupils between Year R and Year 14, the majority of which ended up only missing one day of school.

Graham White, from the National Education Union, said despite the county council's efforts to lessen the impact of floods, more needs to be done by the Government.

He added: "Any day missed is regrettable and will have an impact, the bigger concern for me is that issues have not been addressed by Government at all.

"Schools are very good at managing horrendous situations, but if the government put more money into school, this would make life a lot easier."

A spokesperson for the county council said the authority was experiencing some of the worst rainfall ever.

They added: "We are seeing the heaviest and most persistent rainfall on record, with repeated deluges falling on already saturated ground. River levels are high meaning the drains cannot move water away quickly.

"In periods of severe weather such as this, Suffolk Highways will work to clear main routes and keep them open where possible, however sometimes the only course of action can be to close roads for the safety of motorists and residents.

"Highway teams carry out routine clearance of drains across Suffolk all year round and have been working tirelessly to continue this during the recent bad weather to keep our county moving."

Mr White said: "Local authorities are starved of money, they don't have the funds to deal with so many different things and so it comes back to central Government."

     

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