A Derbyshire school has been left looking like a deserted building site for more than a year.
Piles of unused pipes, fencing, rubble and mounds of soil surround David Nieper Academy in Alfreton.
This is due to the collapse of the construction goliath Carillion more than a year ago, in January 2018.
The new build academy, in Grange Street, opened its doors to 850 pupils and staff in February 2017.
However, much of the surrounding landscaping for the site is yet to be completed and pupils and staff are having to use an alternative entrance, via the neighbouring Woodbridge Junior School.
In total, the project was due to cost £15 million, but due to the delay, this is likely to have increased. The new cost of the school has not yet been revealed due to commercial sensitivity.
The school became an academy in 2016 after being rated inadequate by the education watchdog Ofsted. An academy receives funding directly from central government, and operates outside of the county council’s control. Academies have more control over behaviour policy, curriculum, opening hours, staff pay and uniform.
It became the first school in Derbyshire to be sponsored by a local company, David Nieper Ltd, a women’s fashion retailer which is based in the town.
A school has sat on the same site within Alfreton since 1939.
Fast forward to January 2019 and while the crash of Carillion may seem like a distant memory to many, despite taking over national and international headlines for weeks after its shock collapse, its impact rumbles on in Alfreton.
A Carillion sign is still displayed on what was the main entrance to the original school, which was on the same site.
Along this entrance is a long string of not-so temporary fencing and a cabin for security guards.
The entry sign for the school itself is surrounded by and obscured by overgrown bushes and shrubbery.
Carillion was the chosen company contracted by the Department for Education as part of its Priority School Building Programme (PSBP).
This programme aims to repair or replace the schools most in need of support.
It aims to rebuild and refurbish 277 schools between 2015 and 2021.
Despite construction ending around 18 months ago, security staff have been kept on site around the clock to safeguard against vandals, carrying out regular patrols.
All this carries on while children and school staff forge ahead with tutoring and studying.
The newly-laid patchwork of stone slabs which were intended to lead to the main entrance to the site, are strewn with building material and debris.
Pools of water gather in the bulging piles of soil.
Surrounding this are stacks of unused piping, disused fences and exposed wires.
Much of this area is supposed to be car parking, pedestrian footpaths and trees – but instead it has been left looking stark and derelict.
At the primary school side of the site, students must walk beneath left-behind cabling and through a long channel of fencing, surrounded by further mounds of dirt, gravel and other rubble to get to their classes.
It is thought that the wait may finally be over for work to restart at the site, but this will not be until the summer.
County councillor for the area, Steve Marshall-Clarke, said: “This mess has been spoiling the entrance to the new school for over 18 months now.
“Parents keep asking me ‘when will it be moved?’ Carilion went bust over a year ago and nothing has happened.
“The problem is you are dealing with government officials in London who don’t seem to be in any hurry to sort it out.
“The perimeter fence is broken down making it easy to access the school grounds compromising the students safety.
“Parents and residents want it sorted now.”
Meanwhile, Dr Kathryn Hobbs, head teacher at David Nieper Academy, says that she has not received any complaints and that safety is her top priority.
She said: “While the collapse of Carillion has caused a delay in the completion of the landscaping of our school grounds, the whole school community – teachers and students, are very pleased to be in our brand new building, using our fantastic new teaching and learning facilities.
“The playing fields have been levelled, drained and re-seeded to create a vastly improved sports facility for pupils.
“A new contractor is being appointed and landscaping will recommence this summer.
“We are fortunate to have a large site with extensive playing fields. While we are very much looking forward to the final completion, this delay in no way impacts on the running of the Academy, or the teaching and learning.
“Indeed the school is soon to be oversubscribed for the first time in 20 years.
“We have had no complaints from parents or councillors, and the safety and well-being of students is paramount.
“Security fences are in place to differentiate the remaining works area from the academy grounds; these are maintained and regularly inspected, and we have had no reported hazards.
“The entire school site has undergone the most rigorous of safety and security checks in advance of our royal visit in November.
“I am always happy to speak to anyone regarding any issue at the academy but particularly safety.”
Meanwhile, Christopher Nieper, managing director of David Nieper Ltd and chair of trustees for the David Nieper Education Trust, said: “ The David Nieper Academy has undergone a rapid transformation over the last two years and while there are frustrations regarding the landscaping of the school due to Carillion downing tools last year, we are delighted our students are benefiting from their fantastic new learning environment and we are working to ensure the landscaping is completed later this year.
“Students have had a new building, new uniform, new staff, new head teacher and a unique new education partnership supported by some of the region’s best employers, all of which will stand these young people in good stead for their future careers.”
Due to the school becoming an academy, Derbyshire County Council has not been involved with the funding or management of the project.
However a spokesperson for the authority said: “We are concerned that the work has not been completed but understand that the Government are looking for a new contractor.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We are working as quickly as possible to secure a contractor to finish the remaining works.
“Health and safety is of paramount importance so the construction site is securely fenced and we have 24-hour security patrolling the site.
“We are not aware of any exposed cables but we are urgently investigating this with the school and contractors.”
Carillion went into compulsory liquidation on January 15, 2018.
It was the UK’s second largest construction company, employing 20,000 workers in the UK and 43,000 staff worldwide.
The Wolverhampton firm had debts of £1.5 billion and a £587 million pensions shortfall.
It was behind the under-construction Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick near Birmingham and the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital, along with being one of the main contractors tied up in HS2.
The company also maintained 50,000 homes for the Ministry of Defence, provided 11,500 in-patient hospital beds, managed nearly 900 schools in the UK – including 218 schools’ meal service – and held £200 million in prison contracts across 50 sites.
Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service