Venomous false widow spider infestation forces London schools to shut

Four schools in London have been shut for up to a month after being infested by false widow spiders.

Two primary schools and two secondary schools have closed after Britain’s most venomous spider was found on site.

The discovery of the spiders were made by Newham’s Environmental Team in east London.


Pest control teams are now working to bring the outbreak under control before any more eggs hatch.

One of the schools affected, Rokeby secondary in Canning Town, will remain shut until October 29.

Star Primary in Beckton, Ellen Wilkinson Primary in Canning Town and Lister Community School in Plaistow have also had to close until further notice.

Rokeby head teacher, Charlotte Robinson, said a pest control company estimated it would take three weeks to clear the spiders.

In a letter to parents of the school’s 770 pupils, she wrote: “I have had to take the difficult decision to close Rokeby School to students and staff until Monday, October 29.

“We have engaged a company to deal with and eradicate this pest, they have estimated that this will take up to three weeks.

“The safety and wellbeing of students and staff must be our priority so whilst I understand that this may be very inconvenient for you it is in your child’s best interest to remain at home and not at school.”

Lister Community School head teacher Anthony Wilson said he hoped his school would re-open by Friday.

He added: “Investigations suggest that there may be some of these spiders on our site, and we are therefore following advice from the local authority and will be closing the school as a precaution to allow full investigation.”

Lisle Von Buchenroder, headteacher at Star Primary and Sue Ferguson, headteacher of Ellen Wilkinson said they were looking at “alternative venues” so lessons could continue.

False widow spiders are about the size of a 50p coin and are the most dangerous spider species in the UK.

Their bites can be very painful and leave small puncture marks on the skin.

This story originally appeared in The Sun.


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