September 5, 2008

School Partly Shut After Staff Fall Ill

By Kate O'Hara

Farnley Park Maths and Computing College has been closed to all pupils except Year 7 for the past two days, and will remain shut today, after 30 of its 49 teachers caught a viral bug.Most staff had attended a training day at the Chapel Lane school in Farnley on Monday following the six-week summer break but it is believed the Year 7 staff were not among them.Ten-and-11-year-olds in Year 7 began their first day in secondary school on Tuesday and were followed gradually by older pupils in a staggered start throughout the day.But most of the 830 children were sent home on Wednesday after 17 teachers rang in sick and another 13 went home from work.Environmental health officials had been expected to say that children could return to school today but education chiefs have decided they should not go back until Monday at the earliest.Only the 150 Year 7 pupils have been allowed to stay at the school this week because their teachers were not affected by the bug, which causes sickness and diarrhoea.There had been reports that the illness could have been caused by food poisoning but last night a spokeswoman for Leeds City Council said that had been categorically ruled out.Pupils sent home on Wednesday were given letters signed by headteacher William Pullen which said: "We regret to inform you that due to unprecedented levels of staff illness the school will be closed today for Years 8, 9, 10 and 11."Patrick Murphy, secretary of the Leeds branch of the National Union of Teachers, said: "It is very unusual. I have never known a school to close right at the start of the year in this way."The school has just changed its name from Farnley Park High School.

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