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Cornwall schools in 'lockdown training'

school children

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:02am 24th March 2018.

Cornwall schools are starting to put pupils through lockdown training in case of a terror attack.

It is part of recommendations backed by the government - and the drills have recieved huge support from parents.

Bishop Bronescombe School, part of the Celtic Cross Education academies, is one of those who have taken the initiative on in a bid to 'be prepared'.

Debbie Carmichael, headteacher at the St Austell-based school, said: "It's part of the fact that the government and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office have recommended that schools have lockdown procedures in place in case of threats of safety towards schools and the children and staff in those schools.

"As part of those recommendations, we need to have a policy and a procedure in place, but also we felt it important the children understood what to do in case we needed to lock-down the site - so we've had a practice."

However, Debbie says the children have not been made aware that the training can relate to a terror-related threat and adds that it will cover other things too.

She said: "First of all, we haven't actually mentioned the word terrorism or terrorist to the children because actually we might need to lockdown the school for a number of reasons.

"It could be a dog loose in the local area and we wanted to make sure the children were inside, or it could be a gas leak in the area and we wanted to make sure windows and doors were shut and children were inside.

"We wanted to make sure they were kept as calm and sensible as possible."

Bosses say the plans were worked on 'for weeks' so that it could be carefully introduced to the children and clearly explained to parents.

Debbie continued: "We've also talked to them about the fact that we've never had a fire at the school - but we have regular fire drills.

"It's all part and parcel of keeping ourselves safe and making sure children know what to do in case of emergency.

"We've introduced it in a very child-friendly way, they've understood and we've had a really calm, measured and sensible practice - we're really pleased with how it's worked."

Other schools in the Celtic Cross group have also created lockdown procedures, including Grampound with Creed, Grampound Road, Ladock and Veryan in Truro, as well as St Michael’s School in Helston.

St Mabyn School, St Tudy School and St Petroc's in Bodmin have put plans in place too, alongside Lerryn and St Winnow in Lostwithiel and Marhamchurch in Bude.

Debbie said: "The parents have been really positive - I didn't want them to think we were overreacting or that we were making the children worried at all.

"The people I've spoken to in school have welcomed the practice and understand that we are just making sure the children are safe and understand what to do in case of an emergency.

"I've had no negative comments."

Debbie told Pirate FM the school will now review how the first practice drill went and look to see if any tweaks need to be made.

A drill will then be held every term.

Debbie said: "The more and more people who do it, the more and more people that know we are prepared in case we need to lock-down our site and I think it is a really sensible way to go about things."

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