14th November 2016 – 

Two little boys have broken their arms tripping over in a ‘dangerous’ school playground where work has remained unfinished for 18 months.

Russell Scott School in Denton has had half a playground since March 2015 and the school has been closed twice due to safety concerns.

Aston Graham, 7, fractured his wrist on November 1, when he tripped over a temporary barrier separating what is left of the playground from the adjoining building site.

The next day, six-year-old Jack MacKinnon broke his arm in the same way.

Refurbishment at the 450-pupil school stopped in March 2015 and half the 2,500sq m playground has been cordoned off with temporary fencing ever since.

Headteacher Steve Marsland has told the M.E.N. he has been staggering play times in an effort to keep the shrunken playground as safe as possible.

A petition urging Tameside Council to finish the development set up by Zoe Lehmann, who has three children at the school, has reached 970 signatures.

The petition says the playground and sports field “have been left in a dangerous and unsightly state” with “children at risk of harm or serious injury.”

It adds “the situation has become worse day-by-day with the temporary fencing breaking and collapsing and the whole field of rubble becoming overgrown with tall weeds”, describing it as a “completely unacceptable situation”.

Keen swimmer Aston, who also loves riding his bike, will be unable to take part in any physical activity for six weeks while his fractured arm is in a brace.

His mum, Jemma Drake, 34, spent six hours in hospital with her son after his accident and said:

“He was very emotional and panicking that they would take his arm off in A&E. He is okay now but he was in a lot of pain and wouldn’t let anyone touch it. They need to sort that playground out; it’s not right that the kids don’t have a proper place to play. I think the school have done everything they can to keep the kids playing and safe, but there’s only so much you can do when half the playground is a building site.”

Jack needs to have an operation to install a rod in his arm to manipulate his bone into place, and will require more surgery in January to remove it.

His mum, Sarah MacKinnon, said:

“He’s upset mostly because he will have his cast on over Christmas. As far as I know the school has tried to speak with the council about having the playground finished, but nothing has been done.”

Russell Scott Primary was shut for a week in January when a pipe burst and sewage spilled all over the school, and closed for a day in May when a fire officer found ‘defects’ and a ‘compromised fire strategy’ within the building.

Steve Marsland said:

“We have got temporary fencing around to keep the children of areas that are still under development which decreases the size of the playground. We are staggering play times and lunch times to alleviate the pressure on the smaller space. We are trying desperately to keep the children safe and we are managing it as best we can.”

Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne told the M.E.N: “I am aware of the concerns expressed by staff and parents about the lack of outdoor play facilities at Russell Scott School.”

He added that he had been liaising on behalf of Mr Marsland with the council and the contractors “to try to find a solution to this problem for some time and I will continue to support the school in every way I can to try to break the impasse between all parties.”

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