A Mytholmroyd school, which has endured several destructive floods in Calderdale, has enhanced its resilience against the impacts of climate change through a £450,000 initiative.

Burnley Road Academy, serving the village of Mytholmroyd since 1879, is a community primary school for children aged 3-11, with approximately 200 pupils.

The school suffered extensive damage during the severe floods of Boxing Day 2015 and February 2020, affecting numerous homes and businesses across Calderdale.

After the completion of the £41m Mytholmroyd Flood Alleviation scheme in 2021, safeguarding 400 homes, businesses, and the school, an additional £450,000 has been invested in new flood resilience measures. This investment, part of collaborative efforts with partners, aims to make the school more resistant to the impacts of climate change.

Funding from the Department for Education (DfE) supported the project, in collaboration with the Environment Agency, DfE, and Calderdale Council. The initiative included the installation of puddle pumps, sump pumps, air brick covers, flood barriers, flood gates, a flood door, non-return valves, and re-pointing and rendering of walls. PFR Framework providers to the Environment Agency, Watertight International, were responsible for the design and construction.

Earlier this year, the Environment Agency and Flood Re launched the Be Flood Smart campaign, urging homeowners to adopt Property Flood Resilience (PFR) measures. Research indicates that such measures can reduce repair costs for flood-damaged properties by up to 73%.

Paul Swales, Senior Flood Risk Advisor, said; “We have been working to reduce the risk of flooding in this community since 2016 and to see the completed works at the school is a proud moment for myself and the Environment Agency. The brilliant partnership working has been fundamental to the success of the project and to have the school even better protected from future flood risk is fantastic.

“With the increasing impact of climate change, it is impossible to completely stop the risk of flooding, particularly in the Calder Valley due to the geography of the area. While the scheme won’t prevent the frequency of floods or their severity, it will give the school a better standard of protection and give valuable time to prepare for the risk of flooding.

Cllr Scott Patient, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Action, Active Travel and Housing, said; “This is another major step forward in our joint action against climate change across Calderdale. It comes as we mark seven years of the Calderdale Flood Action Plan, with incredible progress for flood resilience since the plan launched after the Boxing Day 2015 floods.

“Sadly, climate change means we live with an increased threat of flooding throughout the borough. As a Mytholmroyd resident whose children attended Burnley Road Academy, I have seen first-hand how devastating the impact can be.

“The amazing partnership work to boost flood resilience at the school is part of the Council’s priority to tackle the climate emergency, and we continue to do all we can to protect local people, businesses and the environment.

Clare Cope, Headteacher of Burnley Road Academy, said; “We are delighted that the flood resilience measures have been installed and are very grateful to the DfE, the Environment Agency and Watertight for everything they have done to make this happen. The extreme impact of the floods in 2015 and 2020 devastated not only the buildings but the whole school community. We now feel much safer knowing that we are better protected from future flood risk.”

Amy Greenough DfE Schools Water Strategy Project Lead said; “We are committed to making our education settings more resilient to flooding. In partnership with the Environment Agency, water companies, and local authorities we will deliver a water strategy that includes reducing the flood risk in over 800 schools by 2026.

“We are confident that our water strategy will make a significant contribution to the UK’s efforts to tackle climate change and protect our education settings from the impacts of flooding and drought.”

Mark Arrowsmith, Operations Director of Watertight International, said; “This collaborative project between the Department of Education, Environment Agency, and Watertight will help bring peace of mind to the staff, students and parents of Burnley Road Academy. Our property flood resilience measures, designed to deal with residual risk from the main Mytholmroyd Flood Alleviation Scheme not only support the school with flood preparedness but includes innovative resistance and recoverability measures to create an effective flood management strategy. The work doesn’t stop here, and we will continue to support the school, not only with maintaining the PFR measures, but in supporting education initiatives to teach the children and the wider community about the climate adaptation works to protect the school both now and in the future.”

The project team worked closely with the school to minimize disruption to pupils and staff, scheduling most of the works during school holidays.