A SECONDARY school that was hit by lightning then an arson attack in the space of just four days has been forced to move classes into temporary buildings for the next six months.

Staff at Larkmead School in Abingdon heard a loud bang when it was struck by lightning on August 18.

They quickly discovered that computers, fire alarms, intruder alarms, CCTV and telephones had been wiped out.

The 800-pupil academy even lost control of its boilers and has had to replace thousands of pounds worth of equipment destroyed by the electrical surge.

Just four days later, arsonists set fire to the school sports hall which has been unusable ever since.

The Faringdon Road school used 'emergency control procedures' to stay up and running, installed temporary alarm and heating systems and even put on extra security patrols.

Although school managers managed to get alarms, CCTV and telephone systems back online within a few days, they now need to let investigators examine the wiring in every single classroom to check for damage which could pose a long-term fire risk.

In order to let investigators in, the school has been forced to build six temporary classrooms and a temporary kitchen and, over the rest of this academic year, will be shuffling classes into them on a daily basis.

After massive repairs to the sports hall, that will be back up and running in February, and the school said it had even been modernised and improved.

All of the costs for replacements, repairs and the temporary classroom blocks have been covered by insurance.

Headteacher Chris Harris said his focus from the start had been to keep the school running as normally as possible.

He said: "For the students there will be almost minimal disruption. The whole point of the temporary classrooms is to maintain teaching."

But he also insisted that the nightmare scenario had offered an opportunity to learn about how the school works, and even improve current systems.

He said: "When a major organisation has a major incident to deal with, it is an opportunity to review how you operate.

"In a good way this brought all our sections together – the IT provision, the teachers and the science department, and you get a forensic view of the workings of your school.

"We now have so many experts on site looking at the situation we get an understanding of how we can work better.

"Now we are replacing those systems we want to make them as good as possible."

Mr Harris said the whole process had been made easier because Larkmead had last year joined Wantage's Vale Academy Trust and become an academy school.

As well as allowing it to pass some of the strain over to the head office in Wantage, becoming an academy also allowed the school to sign up to the government's academies insurance scheme, the Risk Protection Arrangement (RPA), which Mr Harris said had taken care of the bulk of repair works.

He said: "I had imagined this would be a nightmare and we would be dragged into quibbling over damage, but that hasn't been the case at all."

Pupils who were due to go back to school on Friday this week have now been told to come in on Monday instead to allow one more day of testing.

Mr Harris said that police investigating the arson attack had not made any arrests that he knew of.