Schools across Newham have been forced to shut following the discovery of false widow spiders.

What are they?

The noble false widow has the most toxic bite of any British spider, but there are few confirmed cases of biting and none of serious injury.

The bites are compared to a wasp sting, with a relatively short-lived pain and the possibility of feeling unwell for a day or two.

Serious problems usually only arise if the bite becomes infected or the person’s immune system is weak from other health issues

Rokeby School in Canning Town remained closed to both staff and pupils until Monday, October 15th.

In a letter to parents from headteacher Charlotte Robinson, she revealed the infestation of spiders was discovered on October 3rd that morning and that a pest control company will need to take up to three weeks to eradicate them.

Pupils were set work to complete at home in the meantime.

Star Lane Primary School, also in Canning Town, is closed “until further notice”, and Ellen Wilkinson Primary School, Beckton, will be closed until the October 5th “due to circumstances beyond our control”.

Other schools have been closed as a precaution, including Lister Community School in Plaistow.

A statement on the school’s website from headteacher Anthony Wilson said that the school would be closed for a day for an investigation but that it hoped to reopen again on the next day.

He added that there had been no reports of anyone at the school being bitten but that an investigation suggested there may be some spiders on the site.