Pupils at a Worcestershire school submerged under three feet of water during July's flooding will return to class today - four days after the start of term.

Bengeworth First School in Evesham was among the worst hit in the country in the summer's downpours.

Built on a flood plain, the school was devastated when the Avon, located only 300 yards away, burst its banks on July 19 - the last day of term.

The floodwater caused £750,000 worth of damage and destroyed vital resources and coursework.

Since then, construction teams employed by Worcestershire County Council have worked relentlessly to get the school up-and-running.

"It is a massive achievement," said the school's head David Braham.

"We have had 20 to 30 guys here all the time working to try and get it ready. Everything was wrecked. All the furniture, all the books, school records, everything."

Mr Braham, who was forced to cancel a two-week family holiday to Greece to be on hand to lead the clear-up operation, recalled the day the floods came to his school.

"We were celebrating on the last day of term and marking the success of five teachers who were leaving.

"Because of that we were in a euphoric mood and thinking of our holidays. By lunchtime we started realising that something was amiss.

"People were coming back from work to collect their children. As a consequence a lot of people left early and the school was deserted by 4.30pm apart from me and the secretary.

"On the way home about 8pm I got a call from the Environment Agency saying the building was at risk of flooding.

"We couldn't retrieve anything because the water came in overnight and by the morning it was 3ft deep."

For Mr Braham, it was a depressing repeat of a similar flood that hit the school nine years ago.

" You don't become hardened to it - my thought this time was 'oh my God, we have all this work to do to get it back'.

"Now we are at the end of the six week period it is great. I have a brand new school, which is beautifully bright. It is a great place to be now."

Council chiefs are now looking into setting up flood defences around the school to prevent a repeat of the wreckage.

A total of 72 schools were damaged by July's floods in Worcestershire - one of the worst-hit parts of the country.

Nationally, more than 850 schools were affected by severe weather. According to the Department for Children, Schools and Families, only 21 of the worst hit were unable to open for the start of term, affecting more than 8,000 pupils.

Schools Minister Jim Knight praised staff who worked to make sure the children's education would not suffer.

"It is a great achievement that after severe flooding in June and July, almost all of the 857 affected schools are reopening on the first day of term," he said.

In all, more than 360,000 pupils were in schools which were damaged in some way. Mr Knight said extra money would be made available to local authorities which need more help, on top of the £14 million already pledged.

Worcestershire has already received £1.8 million from the Government's flood relief fund.

* For photographs of flood damage at Bengeworth log on to the school's website at www.bengeworthfirstschool.co.uk