Headteacher speaks out after pupils in terror lockdown

The headteacher of Herstmonceux Primary School has spoken out after a group of schoolchildren were on lockdown in Parliament during the terrorist attack yesterday (Wednesday).

Thursday, 23rd March 2017, 2:34 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:59 am
Herstmonceux Church of England Primary School. January 4th 2013 E02017P ENGSUS00120130401161933

A group of 16 pupils and three staff members from the school had been visiting Parliament as part of a trip to learn how the democratic process works when the attack took place.

The pupils, who are aged between seven- and 11-years-old and are involved with the school’s student council, were looked after in Parliament’s education centre, according to a County Council spokesperson.

Headteacher Catherine Cottingham said, “Yesterday a group of 16 of our children, with three adults, went on what we expected to be an exciting yet routine school trip to the Houses of Parliament to learn about the democratic process.

“Sadly, there was a serious and horrific security incident in Westminster yesterday which impacted upon our visit.

“We were greatly saddened to hear of the shocking injuries and deaths sustained and our thoughts and prayers are with the families at this time. “I would like to reassure you all the children and adults in our group were not involved in what happened as they were already in the Houses of Parliament and all are safe and well.

“Our staff members and parent helper were amazing, in keeping our children calm and occupied during the lockdown, and we are so grateful to them for this.

“In school our priority was to contact the parents of the children involved as quickly as we could as we knew how concerned they would be.

“Even though they were safe at all times and returned home last evening, we realise our children will have experienced some feelings of upset and shock at having been caught up in such a major incident, and we will be talking with them all today and supporting them over the coming days.

“We are extremely grateful to the police for looking after them all and keeping them secure, giving them regular updates, and escorting them to the rail station when it was safe to do so.

“Our thanks also to the Head of Education at UK Parliament, and all the education staff for their help and support and to the Crisis Management Team and Communications Team at East Sussex County Council for their advice and assistance.

“After a very long day we are pleased all the children and adults returned safely home.

“On a day when we think and pray for those who have lost loved ones, we are also grateful that our Herstmonceux family is safe and back together.”