Brookmans Park Newsletter
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Head's letter on school security
This is the full text of a letter sent to parents by the head teacher at Brookmans Park School, Peter Evans, following an incident in which two junior girls went missing having left the school premises during play time for a 'day together'. Click here for details of the incident.
January 13, 2000
I am writing concerning an incident which happened at school on Monday. You have probably heard bits of the story but the parents of the girls concerned and myself feel it is preferable for you to be given the facts.
It is particularly important to bear in mind that the girls were not running away because of anything that had happened to them at school. Between them they planned a day together as one of them was leaving at half-term.
Whilst they were out at playtime in the morning they left the school grounds. Their absence was noticed as soon as the children came in from play and the teacher immediately alerted me.
The first thing was to check the school and the grounds to make sure they were not hiding anywhere. When we were certain they were not within the school grounds the parents of both children were immediately contacted.
I checked the village and took the road to their houses and called on both parents to see if they had turned up. At this point we decided to do one more quick search including Gobions Wood which the girls had recently visited.
On my return to school it was agreed between myself and the parents that I should now call the police. Before I could do so a phone call was received from Mrs Bertram that she and Miss Ragg had found the girls in Gobions play area. They were returned to school immediately.
The girls have realised the worry they have caused their parents and the school and have been duly punished by both of us co-operating together.
There are several points to bear in mind.
The girls knew they were doing wrong and broke school rules.
A point has been raised about the possibility of a stranger getting on to the school premises if children could get off.
The two scenarios are totally different. Two children out of 170 children axe more difficult to detect than one adult stranger wandering on to the playground.
Our school layout is not very different from most others and it is normal to have one teacher on duty in each playground.
If the Governors feel there are further steps which may be taken to enhance security without turning the school into a fortress then those steps will certainly be taken.
There must always be a balance between making sure the children are as safe as possible and making it feel as though they are being sent to prison every day. I will inform you of any decisions made by the Governors.
January 13, 2000