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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Rising from ashes at Dowdales

DOWDALES School students were licking their lips yesterday at the prospect of putting their culinary skills to the test in the school’s new state-of-the-art kitchen facilities.

The Dalton school’s Year Seven pupils have returned to the classrooms that were badly damaged in a blaze last September.

The fire, which started in a tumble dryer, caused about £200,000 damage to the school’s food technology, textiles and information technology rooms.

All 1,067 students had to be evacuated to the school’s playing field.

It took a team of 30 firefighters to bring the blaze under control. Dowdales headteacher Julie O’Connor said it was “absolutely brilliant to be back” in the refurbished classrooms.

“We had very good facilities before but certainly now we’ve got 21st century, state-of-the-art facilities that will take teaching and learning on to even a higher level at Dowdales,” she said.

“We’ve come through what was a difficult experience very well. We had temporary classrooms in place very quickly so students’ learning wasn’t disrupted.

“Over the last six months since then it’s been a real team effort and everyone in the community has been hugely supportive.”

Year 7E student Josh Braithwaite, 11, summed up the feelings of staff and students when asked what he thought of the new food technology room.

He said: “It’s awesome. I really enjoy being in here rather than having to be in the (temporary) cabins (set up after the fire).”

Barrow fire station watch manager Paul Milburn was one of the first on the scene last year when the fire broke out, and said it was a credit to Dowdales how well it handled the crisis. He said: “The school evacuated very efficiently – it was textbook, really. They all left their bags, as they should, and assembled quickly at the muster point for roll call.”

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