Schools in the UK have begun preparing their students for the possibility of a terrorist attack. Children as young as four have been asked to participate in a series of lockdown drills that focus on teaching children how to respond to a potential terror attack. The preparations come in the wake of the Manchester and London attacks last year.
One father who remained anonymous spoke to WalesOnline and told them how it felt to know his children were having to prepare for such a possibility:
“When we first saw the letter it was obviously quite shocking to hear that your young child would have to take part in something so serious.
“As long as this is done in a way that doesn’t upset or scare the children then I’m happy for them to take part. Their safety is the most important thing.”
It has also been revealed that some schools have been performing drills since 2016 and which teach children to how to respond to a range of potential scenarios including chemical attacks, armed assaults, and bomb threats.
One school taking part is Neyland Community School in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire have already taken part, writing to parents to say:
“We unfortunately live in a world where we have to seriously consider such measures.
“A school ‘lockdown’ is a full or partial closure of the building that may be required in the event of a serious incident.
“We had an assembly with our pupils to explain the drill in such a way as not to frighten them.
“We had a trial ‘lockdown’ drill and pupils had the opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns with staff in the school.”
A spokesman for the government’s terror response unit spoke to reporters about the issue, saying,
“Operation Tinwald is a multiagency approach to school security in Wales.
“In line with UK Government efforts to increase school security in order to protect pupils and staff, WECTU has worked alongside Welsh Government , local education authorities and headteachers around Wales to implement improved security practices and physical measures in our schools.
“The programme aims to raise awareness of all potential threats faced by our schools, from stray animals on the grounds to abusive parents or pupils and various criminal activity, as well as the threat of terrorism.
“CTSAs play an advisory role in the programme. With the assistance of our Schools Community Officers and our crime prevention teams, we provide guidance and information to support headteachers and local authorities to make decisions which suit their schools’ needs.
“The implementation of individual security measures and practices remains the responsibility of education authorities and at the discretion of each school’s headteacher.
“However, all schools have been encouraged to engage with the programme, and to date it has been very well received. We continue to be contacted on a regular basis by headteachers seeking guidance, and we are keen for that partnership to continue in order to ensure security measures and practices remain up-to-date and our schools are as safe as they can possibly be.”