Ten years on from Avon Valley School fire - The Rugby Observer
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20th Aug, 2022

Ten years on from Avon Valley School fire

Rugby Editorial 2nd Jul, 2014 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016

IN the first of a new series of features we take a look in our archives at stories that have made our headlines over the past decade.

We start almost 10 years to the day that a huge fire ravaged Avon Valley School.

IT WAS like a scene from a disaster movie. Indeed our front page headline on Thursday, July 1 simply read DEVASTATION.

Three days before, in the early hours of Monday, June 28, a mystery blaze had ripped its way through Avon Valley.

Some 70 firefighters tackled the flames which despite their best efforts, and in the absence of sprinklers, destroyed 75 per cent of the school’s buildings. No cause was ever established for one of the biggest fires ever in Rugby.

Fortunately the fire was less than a month before the summer holidays started, and in the weeks and months that followed Avon Valley got back to some sort of normality with lessons resuming at the start of the new academic year in a village of temporary classrooms on the land around the old school.

Ironically an Ofsted report published around the same time rated the buildings as being only satisfactory while describing the school’s overall performance as very good.

Funds were quickly made available by the government and Warwickshire County Council for the rebuilding of what has become a performing arts specialist centre, and just three years later the new £17.7million school as it is now reopened complete with ts own theatre – and a sprinkler system. It led to a decision to install such systems in all schools in Warwickshire that were rebuilt or refurbished from then on.

In 2008 Royalty arrived when Prince Edward oversaw its official reopening.

Avon Valley has continued to flourish over the past 10 years, retaining its Ofsted good rating and last year enjoying its best ever GCSE results with 59 per cent of pupils getting at least five A* to C grades including English and Maths, exceeding national targets.

The scene seven hours after the blaze broke out at Avon Valley School back on Monday, June 28, 2004.

Firefighters tackled the blaze at Avon Valley School back on Monday, June 28, 2004.

Avon Valley School as it looks today.

Prince Edward met Avon Valley School head teacher Don O’Neill at the official reopening back in 2008.

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