Pupils forced outside in underwear in fire drill

Photograph by Ian Georgeson, 07921 567360'Ferryhill Primary school, edinburgh
Photograph by Ian Georgeson, 07921 567360'Ferryhill Primary school, edinburgh
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ANGRY parents have criticised a primary school after pupils were forced in to the playground in their underwear during a fire drill.

Children as young as five were forced to leave their classrooms with two youngsters – who had been getting changed for PE – wearing only underwear beneath their coats.

Parents were furious when they learned of the incident at Ferryhill Primary School in Drylaw on Wednesday.

One, who asked not be named, said: “This is shocking – my kid was at school and had to leave as they were getting changed for a PE class.

“The fire alarm went off and all the kids were taken to the back of the school to be registered. My kid was wearing her PE clothes but told me that her classmates were out in just their underwear. I didn’t believe it at first, then I heard from other parents who told me the same thing.

“Surely the practice could have been planned better by the school to avoid the drill taking place when kids would be getting dressed.”

A spokeswoman for the city council confirmed the children had been led outside in their underwear but defended the move. She said: “The point of any fire safety drill is that the people occupying the building are unaware if there is a real fire or not.

“Evacuating the children to the playground immediately was the priority as always and staff acted appropriately following procedures to ensure the welfare of the children was looked after at all times.”

When asked to confirm if school children were taken into the playground in their underwear, she said: “The two children who weren’t dressed properly had coats put around them when they got out to the playground.”

But Inverleith councillor Gavin Barrie has criticised the way the school handled the drill. The retired firefighter told a city news website: “I would be disappointed if this drill took place in the manner that has been described to me. While it is necessary that all staff and children understand the drill, there is no doubt this practice can be arranged in such a way to minimise the risk of it occurring in such circumstances.”

But Tina Woolnough, Edinburgh representative for the National Parent Forum, said any scheduling when it came to fire safety practice fire drills would render them ineffective,

“Any time there is a fire drill it could be real. The pupils need to be aware that with a fire drill, they need to get out the building immediately.”