Fair Ways School for children with complex and additional needs in Swanwick run by Portsmouth company is severely damaged by fire
A FIRE has severely damaged a school for children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties.
The blaze took hold at Fair Ways School, in New Road, Swanwick on Friday evening.
Firefighters from Hightown, Fareham, Botley, Portchester, St Mary’s, Hamble, Wickham and Eastleigh were sent to the school at 9.30pm.
A spokesman for the fire service said: ‘A large bin fire had spread to the nearby school building, involving both floors and the roof, approximately 20m by 10m.
‘Crews used four breathing apparatus, one jet and two hose reels to put out the fire.’
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service left the area just after midnight.
Paul Moran, from Fair Ways, the charity-owned company that runs the school, said that investigations had found the fire had started accidentally.
He said: ‘There is a lot of damage and there is only a week of term left. There are a lot of people distressed and upset by this. And they have been an awful lot of people working hard to get an alternative school set up.’
Paul said they had set up an alternative school for the 20 pupils affected, who are aged seven to 14 and all have complex and additional needs, through its site at Fort Widley and online.
He said the Swanwick site had been secured and that work is underway to restore the premises so it can be reopened in September.
Fair Ways managing director Gareth Webb said: ‘I am very proud of how Fair Ways staff responded to this unfortunate incident. Providing a continuity of education to these pupils is very important and we managed to have an operational service available by Monday morning.
‘We would also like to acknowledge the outstanding service from the emergency services who prevented the damage from being even worse.’
Fair Ways is a child services company, based in Lakeside, North Harbour, that is 100 per cent charity owned.
It delivers a range of services to children and young people, almost all referred by local authorities or courts. These services include fostering, residential, education, healthcare, and outreach - mostly in the Solent area.
The company recently won two awards at The News Business Excellence Awards – Employer of the Year and Corporate and Social Responsibility Initiative of the Year – for its work helping others and supporting its staff.