Memories in the ashes: Selsey Academy prepares for new term

Selsey Academy after the fire.  SUS-160822-143327001
Selsey Academy after the fire. SUS-160822-143327001
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An atmosphere of solidarity was felt as Selsey Academy students picked up their GCSE results from a nearby primary school today.

The fire that ravaged three quarters of the secondary school has left around 400 pupils without permanent classrooms, equipment and swathes of coursework.

With temporary classrooms and other measures arranged for the autumn term, the joy of good results was tempered with the sadness of losing memories.

Mum Yvonne May said: “It’s absolutely devastating. I went there, my brother and sister went there, it’s sort of like losing part of the family, it’s like losing a person. Hopefully good things will come out of this and it will be rebuilt.

“When I saw it I actually cried. You don’t expect that, but your memories are part of it.”

Her 22-year-old daughter Sophie now hopes to run a fundraiser to help get the school up and running again with a performance by Theatre Ink at Chichester College.

“We’re hopefully going to raise some money, whatever we can. It’s my old school and we were going to do a performance there,” she said.

Despite moving on, many year 11 pupils felt the same.

Katie Byrne said: “It’s gutting, not only for me but for the students and ex-students as well. There are so many memories in there.

“I’m sure it’ll be rebuilt. It’s sort of the heart of the village.”

With no building to hand out results from, GCSEs were collected from Seal Primary School, where staff were on hand to provide tea and biscuits throughout the morning.

Headteacher Tom Garfield said the support from the primary school and the community had been ‘incredible’.

Staff are keen to get things up and running as soon as possible, but for some, the transition will not be easy.

Food technology teacher Emma Watts explained that she had lost ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds worth’ of equipment built up over 15 years at the academy, as well as GCSE coursework from her year 10s.

“I can’t teach in a normal classroom,” she said. “It’s just all the equipment. It was so well equipped with good quality stuff.”

Deputy head Jackie Shepherd said the day was a ‘touch of normality’ in the face of the fire and she was confident staff would rise to the challenge.

She said: “The thing that matters most is that the children get a good education, and that’s about the teachers, not the building.”

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