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Pupils faint during half-hour assembly

Newbury school reviews risk assessment after eight pupils overcome by standing

Chris Ord


01635 886639

St Barts School

PUPILS looked on in horror as a number of their classmates fainted during a Remembrance Day assembly at a Newbury school.

Eight pupils either collapsed or felt unsteady on their feet as all year groups attended the half-hour ceremony at St Bartholomew’s School on Friday.

One child sustained injuries after fainting in the hub, where the assembly was held, the school has confirmed.

Headteacher Julia Mortimore said that the school was undertaking a review of its risk assessments and will take “every effort” to ensure the incident is not repeated.

The injured pupil was treated and returned to school the next day.

One parent told the Newbury Weekly News that their child was left shaking, after having seen one of their classmates drop to the floor “as if they had been shot”.

The concerned parent, who did not wish to be named, said: “The entire school was made to stand in the hub area of the school.

“They were squashed in fairly close together and were standing for over half-an-hour without being able to move about properly.

“After a while, children started fainting. My child said the first one fell right in front of them.

“Then they heard a number of other children fall. They said it sounded like they were dropping dead, as if they had been shot.”

The parent said teachers had rushed to assist the fallen pupils, while those that had looked on were treated “as if they were in shock”.

“My child was still trembling and crying when we collected them from the school,” added the parent.

Having now heard of a similar situation during a previous year’s Remembrance Assembly, the parent questioned the school’s decision to once again make the children stand.

They said: “When we got home, my child told me that similar events happened at the assembly last year, which I was shocked to hear.

“If they knew there could be issues, they should have addressed me and not put these kids at risk.”

In 2015, the school was given the highest rating for pupil safety by Ofsted, while being rated as ‘Good’ overall.

Almost 1,200 11- to 18-year-olds, as well as a number of visitors, were in the school hub to pay their respects during the annual school ceremony.

Headteacher Mrs Mortimore said the school was taking the matter very seriously.

She said: “We traditionally have a Remembrance Service to mark the occasion for the school and the country and it is an important event in the school’s calendar with the names of the houses in the school being named after ex-students who died in the First World War.

“Unfortunately, this year we had eight students who fainted or felt unsteady on their feet and one student hurt themselves, and that was dealt with by appropriately-trained staff and the student returned to school the next school day.

“Last year, no one fainted in the service but in previous years a child has fainted.

“We are in the process of reviewing the risk assessment as we do with arrangements annually.

“The incident that took place was very unfortunate and we will make every effort and make adjustments to the assembly to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“A few students standing around were upset by it and understandably so.

“We collected them together and made sure they were looked after, as the care of our students is our priority.”

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