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Canterbury Academy bomb scare forces evacuation of hundreds of pupils

By Chris Pragnell

Two Kent schools were evacuated after they both received bomb threats.

A menacing caller rang Canterbury Academy to say there was a bomb on site and "the shrapnel will take children’s heads off".

Pupils were pulled from class – including 240 sitting a GCSE English exam.

VIDEO: Head teacher talks of the moment the school received a bomb threat.

Soon after, Barming Primary School in Maidstone was also evacuated after an anonymous call sparked a bomb scare, with other schools across the UK also receiving threats.

Canterbury Academy has since reopened and lessons will resume tomorrow.

Police were called to both schools, where painstaking searches of the buildings were carried out.

The incidents are not being linked, but the investigation continues.

VIDEO: Police at Canterbury Academy

At Canterbury Academy, students cleared from the exam were evacuated to a tennis hall while non-exam pupils were sent home for the day.

Head teacher Phil Karnavas said: “It’s almost certainly a hoax but with what’s happening across Europe I’m not prepared to take that gamble.”

Mr Karnavas says secretarial staff received “repeated” calls from an adult male this morning claiming an explosive device was hidden in the school.

The school was evacuated
The school was evacuated

“The exact words, I believe, were ‘bomb on site, shrapnel will take children’s heads off’,” said Mr Karnavas.

He decided to clear the buildings immediately as police were called in.

Pupils were initially sent to the fields but, with rain pouring down, Mr Karnavas decided to send them home.

Police remain at the scene
Police remain at the scene

Those 240 who were sitting the GCSE English exam are expected to complete the paper this afternoon.

Mr Karnavas said classes would resume as normal tomorrow.

Police confirmed that an anonymous call was made at 10.13am and that the school was evacuated as a precaution.

Barming Primary School in Maidstone
Barming Primary School in Maidstone

Referring to the Maidstone incident, a spokesman said: "Kent Police attended Barming Primary School, in Belmont Close, on Monday 23 May after receiving a report that an anonymous phone caller stated an explosive device had been placed at the school.

"The incident was reported at 10.19am and officers were quickly sent to the school.

"A thorough search of the school has taken place, with specially trained dogs assisting, and no suspicious items were found.

Canterbury High principal Phil Karnavas
Canterbury High principal Phil Karnavas

"Following the initial report pupils and staff gathered on the school field following an evacuation of the building and officers worked with the local authority to ensure the children were accounted for and safe.

"The children were then transported to the nearby St Augustine Academy, in Oakwood Park, and parents have been collecting them from that location.

"This is currently being treated as a separate incident to events at Canterbury High School, however enquiries are ongoing."

For more information on the Kent situation, contact KCC on 03000 414141.

Anyone with information about the Canterbury incident is asked to call police on 01843 222289 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 quoting reference 23-0350.

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