A mum whose two daughters attend a Lancashire school which went into lockdown amid reports that two teenagers were heading to the premises armed with knives has praised the school for their handling of the situation.
St Mary’s Catholic School in Leyland initiated its lockdown procedure last week after the knife claims – which were later found to be a false alarm.
Two teenagers who were not pupils at the school had gone to meet a pupil but were not found to have knives.
It was a traumatic event for children and teachers at the school as they were told to lock themselves into classrooms, barricade the doors and hide underneath desks.
Pupils were kept inside the school for over an hour, and when shaken children made their way out of the building, many were in tears.
Trish Bethel, whose two daughters Harriot, 14 and Amelia, 11, are both pupils at the school, says she feels the school acted quickly and handled things well.
Book-keeper Trish, 44, who is married to Scott and lives in Walmer Bridge, said: “When we got to the school at the end of the day, the gate were locked and shut which was unusual.
“Then one parent told people that the school was in lockdown as two lads with knives had been heading there.
“Fear sank in and when you are stood outside not knowing what is happening, you fear the worst.
“The real panic started when rumours began flying around and somebody said two boys were inside stabbing people.
“When the children were finally let out, no one was allowed to leave until a parent was there and there was a lady with a clipboard ticking everyone off.
“Some of the children came out very upset and in tears and my girls were shaken by it all.
“However, from my point of view, the school acted amazingly and handled a difficult situation really well.
“The headteacher acted very quickly by putting the school into lookdown to protect our children.
“Luckily, in this case, the boys were not armed, but even if the threat had been real, I believe all the children would have been safe because of the actions of the school.”
The school confirmed that pupils and staff knew exactly what to do as they had practiced lockdown the term before.
The Department for Education recommends that schools create and maintain an emergency plan, provide training to staff who could become involved in an incident and carry out exercises to test their plans.
Guidance from Lancashire County Council includes advice on lockdown procedures intended to prevent an intruder from causing harm to pupils and staff.
Trish says she is glad the school had done drills. She says: “The school had done lockdown training before Christmas and the children had been prepped in what to do in an emergency situation.
“They knew they had to lock and block the door and sit under the desks and wait.
“No one wants these terrible things to happen but it is good that schools are preparing children just in case.
“At first the children thought it was another drill so they did not panic.
“The school did all the right things. Luckily, there was nothing to worry about on this occasion but the school did everything they could to keep pupils safe.”