Eighth Newham school closure confirmed due to false widow spider outbreak

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

An eighth school in Newham has closed after the discovery of false widow spiders, while another has reported finding the arachnids but is remaining open.

John F Kennedy Special School has shut both of its campuses in Stratford and Beckton for the foreseeable future to allow for treatment.

A statement on the school’s website reads: “Both sites are closed to students until further notice while treatment to address the presence of false widow spiders is completed.”

Meanwhile School 21, an all-through school which neighbours JFK’s Stratford campus, has said that a “small number of spiders” were found at the site.

A letter to parents from headteacher Oli de Botton, dated today (Thursday), reads: “Our site team have conducted regular searches of the premises over the past week. Up until this point we had not discovered webbing or spiders.”


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He said that the areas where spiders were found have been cleared and some have been closed off, and that pest control would be visiting today to assess the situation.

Mr de Botton added: “At present the school is open as normal as we have assessed the risk to be mangeable.

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“However, any decision to close will be informed by the analysis of pest control and/or any changes we observe on the ground today.

“If as a result of this information you feel you want to keep your child at home that of course remains at your discretion.”

School 21 will be closed tomorrow for a scheduled inset day.

One of the first schools to be affected by the outbreak, Ellen Wilkinson Primary School, has confirmed it will be reopening on Monday following treatment.

Staff will be at the Beckton site - which is on the same road as JFK - tomorrow (Friday) to clean the school, with any parents who wish to help out invited to come along between 10am and 3pm.

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