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Sissinghurst C of E Primary School prepare for terrorist attacks

By William Janes

Children are having to practise lockdown drills to prepare for gunmen, terrorists, or intruders in Kent Schools.

All state funded schools in the county are being told to put in place the new emergency procedures by Kent County Council (KCC).

In the same way that youngsters carry out fire drills, the new exercises have been brought in to prepare them for dangers ranging from a terrorist attack to chemical leaks or even a school’s own students going rogue.

KCC have issued guidelines on school lockdowns
KCC have issued guidelines on school lockdowns

Sissinghurst C of E Primary School in Common Road, carried out a drill last week.

Children were directed to their classrooms where doors were locked and window blinds were closed.

Headteacher Cathy Penfoldcor said that in a real life emergency pupils may also need to hide under their desks.

“We have to practise emergency procedures at school in case of extreme circumstances that could occur so we cover both evacuation and the opposite which is lockdown,” she said.

“It stems back to occasions when unpleasant people have gone into school buildings and the children are at risk. If we had a stranger on site or a person with a gun or terrorist situation we would lock down our building.”

Headteacher Cathy Penfold
Headteacher Cathy Penfold

Such events are unlikely but being ready is a necessity for schools today, she believes.

“It’s a little bit scary but it’s just being part of our modern world,” she continued.

“You hear about things on the news and they are so few and far between but they are very emotive because it’s a school. The chances of something happening are so, so slim but you never want to be caught off guard.”

However, not everyone agrees. A parent at the school, who wished to remain anonymous, said his daughter had come home confused and “freaked out” by the drill.

“I think it’s strange they would practise lockdown drills,” he said. “I don’t understand why all of a sudden with no warning to parents they are doing these drills. It’s a primary school in a rural village. It’s something I would normally associate with American schools.”

The new exercises have been brought in to prepare them for dangers ranging from a terrorist attack to chemical leaks or even a school’s own
The new exercises have been brought in to prepare them for dangers ranging from a terrorist attack to chemical leaks or even a school’s own

While there is no legal requirement to practise the responses, the local authority says it has made the move to introduce drills at the request of schools.

According to KCC, lockdowns have been included in the guidance since 2010 while emergency planning guidance has been issued to schools for more than 10 years.

Each year it’s updated in line with current national guidance and legislation.

Ian Watts, an area education officer at Kent County Council, said: “The county council has already taken the proactive step of issuing basic guidance to all state-funded schools in Kent and has recently produced an online training module, which schools can obtain to supplement this guidance."
He added: “KCC will be providing further, more detailed guidance on how schools plan for, and initiate, a lockdown early in the New Year.”

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