Where normally the sounds of the school day provide a soundtrack to trips across the campuses on Tuesday there was silence, still and calm. The lockdown signal had sounded and as a consequence classes had taken cover, the lights had been turned off, blinds and shutters closed. Pupils and staff were in safe corners, doors had been locked. All that was to be done had been done.
I am pleased to report that the drill was a success. Whilst it is impossible to simulate an attack (and I am unsure that we would want to), the practice has given us as a school community the opportunity to think carefully about what we have to do should such a terrible event occur. We had the chance to test our established procedures to build on the good foundations already established. During the drill professional security observers were present. Their informal feedback has been that our security measures are very good and that we are taking the necessary measures to ensure our pupils are safe in school.
Such drills are traumatic for both pupils and staff alike. We are aware of this and have given students the opportunity to talk about the drill and about the issues that it raised for them. We hope that parents have felt that they have been kept informed of our intentions and have been able to deal with questions that have emerged at home. As a staff we have drawn lessons from the exercise and we will amend our procedures to reflect what took place, we are better prepared now than we were before. We remain far from complacent.
But the real danger regarding security starts now. The tragic events that occurred in Paris have begun to fade from view and the media spotlight has turned elsewhere. There is a danger that we allow our vigilance to lower. There can be no doubt that threats remain and as a consequence we, as a school, will continue with our current level of security awareness. Parents can play their part. We need to ensure that cars are not parked in front of the School, that visits to the School are scheduled and formal appointments are made. We remain committed to the security of the students in our care and hope that parents will understand when faced with what may seem to be inconvenient procedures regarding access to the site.
A silent school is a strange place. It is to the students’ very great credit that they behaved impeccably on Tuesday morning. It is good to see at least one clear positive consequence from a tragic series of events.