THE school at the centre of an asbestos scare is to close on safety grounds.
Pupils will not return to Sutherland Primary Academy, in Blurton, following the October half-term break.
It follows new safety advice which warns there is the 'potential of a major asbestos fall' from the ceilings.
Instead talks are being held to try to find an alternative site elsewhere in Stoke-on-Trent for the school.
Now headteacher Garry Boote has warned pupils are unlikely to return to the Sutherland site until Easter – and could then be taught in temporary buildings on the playing fields.
The closure comes just days after The Sentinel revealed nine rooms – including classrooms, the boys' toilets and the dining hall – had been sealed off. The school has 510 pupils and 80 staff.
Mr Boote said: "The potential for the building to become unsafe is great. This would put children, staff and visitors at an unacceptable risk. We have now started planning for a move to an alternative school premises."
It is possible that the nursery children will remain in a separate building at Sutherland – with the rest of the children bussed to and from their new site each day.
Chairman of governors Kathy Niblett said: "The task of moving from the current site cannot be underestimated.
"We anticipate our use of an alternative premises will continue until Spring next year. We would then hope to return to the Sutherland site, either to a building with the asbestos removed or temporary school buildings on our field."
Parents have been assured they will not have to meet the cost of paying for their children to get to and from the new school. But they will have to find additional childcare because the pupils will have an extra week off and not return to school until November 9.
Mother-of-three Kate Browning, aged 29, of Newstead, said: "The headmaster cannot win at the moment – he either keeps the school open and gets moaned at or shuts it and still gets moaned at. The school is doing all it can and a number of parents are behind the staff."
Fellow mum-of-three Gemma Rutter, aged 28, of Ashby Crescent, who has two children at Sutherland, said: "I am happy as long as my children are safe. The school is providing a bus and doing all it can."
Parent Jim Davis has called for a fund-raising campaign to help the school. It comes as the school is set to bid for up to £2 million emergency funding to try to remove the asbestos.
The 32-year-old, of Beaconsfield Drive, who has two children at the school, said: "The school has been here for a long time and it would be good to do something to help. The work needs to be done."
A Government report has revealed dozens of Potteries schools are likely to be riddled with asbestos.