IN 2000 a Hampshire school was exiled for some two years after flooding.

This time St Bede will spent a shorter period away from its Winchester city centre base.

With flood waters subsiding, pupils are set to start returning from Monday March 3.

School staff are now preparing for a phased return with all pupils expected back by Friday March 7.

Because flowing has affected the toilet drainage and playground safety most of the children relocated to The Westgate and Henry Beaufort secondary schools.

Councillor Peter Edgar, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, said: “Following advice from the Environment Agency and the Met Office, and with flood waters receding, we have taken the decision to re-open St Bede Church of England Primary School in Winchester. I am extremely pleased that we are able to re-open the school sooner than anticipated, which will allow the children to return to their education as normal.”

Temporary classrooms will remain at Henry Beaufort in case the flooding worsens again.

Louise Fitzpatrick, headteacher, said: “I am delighted that we are able to re-open the school sooner than expected. Our priority during the floods has been to maintain the children’s education with as little interruption as possible, while ensuring their health and wellbeing.

“Over the rest of this week, we will be working hard to get the school set up and running ready for the pupils to start returning from March 3.

All pupils will return by Friday 7 March, including the 110 pupils in Years 5 and 6 who have remained at the school during the floods as temporary sanitary facilities were available for them to use.

Before the school opens, the playground will be jet-washed as advised by the Environment Agency.

Following the floods in 2000, the county council invested around £2 million to refurbish St Bede School and raise the floor level to protect the building.

In spite of the unprecedented volumes of rainfall, rising ground water and river levels, the school has remained dry.