Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet has backed positive steps towards rebuilding Manorbier Church in Wales VC School after a fire severely damaged the school last year. 

The Cabinet met on Monday and backed £25,000 for a study to determine approximate costs for rebuilding the school and, subject to the appropriate processes, invite and evaluate a tender to design and rebuild the damaged areas of the school. 

The Cabinet was told that a full reinstatement of the school was the preferred option. 

To minimise any further disruption to pupils’ learning and well-being, it is proposed that the school will continue to operate from Jameston Community Hall while work on the school is completed. 

Cllr Guy Woodham, the Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language, said: “Officers have worked closely with the school to ensure that the school has been able to operate as effectively as possible following the fire, with a priority given to minimising the disruption to learners and staff.” 

Cllr Woodham thanked the trustees of Jameston Community Hall for their generosity, support and assistance since the fire. 

An agreement is being finalised for the continued use of the Jameston Community Hall and an interim payment has been made to the Community Association 

The report to Cabinet Members outlined that the situation following the fire has been complex with multiple partner involvement, including the Diocese of St Davids and insurance companies. 

Cllr Woodham outlined a host of education, insurance, property, housing, building and contractual matters that officers have been working through behind the scenes. 

For example, the school is covered by the Council’s insurance arrangements but the adjoining school house – which was also severely damaged – falls under the insurance arrangements of the Diocese. 

The school house tenants have been housed in a fully accessible bungalow by the Council since the fire. 

While the full cost of reinstating the school is not known it is anticipated that most, if not all, will be met by insurance. 

The report acknowledged that reinstating the school would take some time, potentially to the start of the 2024/2025 academic year. 

Following the meeting, Cllr Woodham said:

“I am delighted that Cabinet has supported these important first steps towards reinstating Manorbier School. There will now be processes to follow but our preferred option has always been to rebuild and we believe this will provide a stable educational environment for pupils and staff for the long term. 

“Since day one our focus has been on supporting the pupils and staff at the school, educationally and emotionally and officers have been working hard in the background to get to this point. We will continue to keep all parents, pupils and other interested parties up to date as we move forward.”