Fifth Newham school closes due to false widow spiders

False widow spider infestations have closed several schools in Newham. Pic: The Natural History Muse

False widow spider infestations have closed several schools in Newham. Pic: The Natural History Museum - Credit: The Natural History Museum / Tru

A fifth school has closed after an outbreak of false widow spiders across Newham.

Earlham Primary School, in Forest Gate, has announced it is investigating a “possible infestation” of the arachnids.

Two other primary schools - Ellen Wilkinson and Star - and two secondary schools - Rokeby and Lister - have already announced they will be closed while the infestation is treated.

A message on Earlham’s website reads: “School is closed today while we investigate a possible infestation of the false black window spider.”

Both Star’s headteacher Lisle Von Buchenroder and Ellen Wilkinson’s headteacher Sue Ferguson said they would be exploring the possibility of using alternative venues next week.


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In a letter to parents, Ms Von Buchenroder said: “I was made aware of an infestation of noble false black widow spiders which was discovered during a routine check by Newham’s environmental team.

“They believe that the infestation is contained to the outside of the building and that this needs to be treated immediately before the eggs start hatching.

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“I want to reassure all members of our community that these are precautionary measures and that we are very lucky to have found out in time to take action to remove them.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The schools are being treated and fumigated and we are working with the schools to ensure that children can continue to receive an education whilst their school is closed. Pupils are being set work via the schools and will remain in contact with schools.

“We are asking all our schools and nurseries to proactively check their premises carefully for these spiders and if they see any signs, then contact environmental health or pest control as well as notifying the council.”

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