MINISTERS have been criticised after scrapping the requirement for fire sprinklers to be fitted in new schools

The move announced by the Department for Education (DfE), comes a week after a major fire at Selsey Academy in Chichester.

Julian Parsons, of the Chief Fire Officers Association, said: “This is a retrograde step that doesn’t make any sense. Sprinklers don’t just save lives, they prevent fires from spreading and causing significant damage and disruption to our children’s education.”

There were more than 600 fires in British Schools last year. Sprinklers are credited with preventing extensive fire damage in 17 schools. The policy was introduced by Labour Schools Minister Jim Knight in 2007.

A DfE spokesperson said the policy “was in line with the latest fire safety advice.”

More than 75 firefighters tackled 40ft high flames destroying 15 classrooms and much of its contents. The start of the school term has now been delayed until September 12, as pupils will be taught in four different locations in the Selsey area.