School Incident Report
Thank you for your understanding and support today to collect children as promptly as you were able. I appreciate the inconvenience this may have caused to many. I thought it might be useful to explain to parents the procedure for managing a serious incident such as the gas leak today.
Upon identification, the decision was made to evacuate the children and re-route children so that they did not walk through the affected area. Mrs Currall liaised with Staffordshire County Council , whilst Mrs Richards raised the fire alarm and I rang 999 to speak to the Fire Service.
We followed the school’s well planned Business Continuity Plan and Emergency Evacuation Procedure to manage the scene and minimise distress and excitement for children.
Staff quickly accounted for all children and adults on site so that we knew everyone was safe and we waited for the Emergency Services to arrive. At this point we were unsure as to the cause of the smell and prioritised the safety and supervision of the children. In Dunkirk Spirit children and staff braved the chilly weather, awaiting further instruction, singing songs, dancing and generally having fun!
Very quickly a range of emergency service personnel and vehicles arrived on scene and took control. The one pupil and small number of staff who reported symptoms, or were at risk of exposure to the gas were all assessed and seen by the Ambulance Service who concluded that all were fit and well and advised hot showers at home to open up sinuses.
Once the Fire Team had made investigations it was found that a gas leak had occurred from a small refridgerator in school which had remained behind a closed door until late morning. The refridgerator was removed and taken out into a well ventilated space (the fresh air) well away from the pupils. Dynamic risk assessments were carried out with the Fire Lead , our school Health and Safety Advisor and myself, as we could not be certain that all gas had been removed, as such it was decided to contact parents and ask them to collect their children.
I am aware that before this time the Fire Service Press Team had issued a Twitter statement and that neighbours to the school or parents collecting from Nursery may have shared locally/online the news that there had been an incident. As Head Teacher my immediate priority will always be the management of the safety and wellbeing of the children, staff and site users and cooperation and communication with the team and the Emergency Services. As such there was no need/opportunity for the school to contact parents until there was something concrete to report. I do understand that parents will naturally worry, but all children were safe, happy and accounted for and it was hoped that the school day would resume within a short period of time.
Children were dismissed safely and sensibly, a big thank you to parents for their help with this. I appreciate they will have left lunchboxes and other belongings in school, but unfortunately this was unavoidable. Any children unable to be collected were taken up to the Nursery building and we organised food to be delivered (pizza, sausage rolls, toast, crackers, shortbread etc) from Codsall Middle School (a big thank you to them for their support!) as staff were still not allowed back in the main building to recover lunchboxes or hot dinners.
The Fire Service carried out a range of air tests and communicated these to our Health and Safety Advisor and I and presented their recommendations. As such we left the space ventilated for the remainder of the day. An industrial air blower has been used to ensure any traces of gas have dispersed and this evening we have taken further air/gas readings which have indicated that the site will be safe for the children and staff to return to tomorrow. We will however continue to test readings over the next few days and continue to ventilate the space with the blower. As such Year 3 and 4 children may be dismissed from different parts of school tomorrow (please await a text).
Later in the afternoon staff were supervised by members of the Fire Brigade to quickly get their belongings and exit the building safely. A big thank you to all of the staff for their role in ensuring that the incident was managed calmly and safely. I cannot commend them highly enough. A particular big thank you to Mrs Currall for her management of Health and Safety and Mrs Richards for her practical support to organise equipment needed. It was a real team effort and I feel very lucky to have the team of staff that I have.
The children were a credit to their families and it is without doubt that this will be a day that they will remember for years to come. We look forward to welcoming everyone back in to school tomorrow and apologise once again for any inconvenience the decision to close the school may have caused.