Headteacher's relief after coach blaze

A HEADTEACHER has spoken of his relief after 40 school pupils had a lucky escape when the engine of a coach they were travelling on caught fire.He also praised his school's critical incident procedure that helped lead the children to safety and prevent the situation turning into a potential disaster.

A HEADTEACHER has spoken of his relief after 40 school pupils had a lucky escape when the engine of a coach they were travelling on caught fire.

He also praised his school's critical incident procedure that helped lead the children to safety and prevent the situation turning into a potential disaster.

The 40 pupils, plus teachers and parents from Great Cornard Middle School were travelling to London on Tuesday to visit the Natural History Museum and the London Eye, when the coach caught fire on a dual carriageway.

The coach was travelling along the A12 between Braintree and Chelmsford when an oil leak caused the engine compartment to ignite.

With smoke billowing from the coach the driver was forced to pull over to a bank on the side of the road and the bus was evacuated.

Within minutes firefighters had arrived to tackle the blaze and police closed the road, while stunned pupils and staff looked on.

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Fortunately, another new bus was drafted in and with the aid of a police escort, it arrived within a couple of hours to allow the children, aged between nine and 13, to continue on their trip.

Headteacher David Porter said: "Obviously I am relieved the situation didn't turn into a major incident and that all the pupils and adults got off the coach safely. I am glad nobody was hurt in the incident that could have been much worse.

"We have a critical incident procedure to help us deal with situations likes this and staff know exactly what to do and who to phone, it was applied to the letter and it worked very well.

"The children acted very well and in the end it was an adventure to them and added a bit of excitement to their day.

"The police and fire service were excellent in dealing with the incident and the driver was also very good, as soon as he saw smoke he pulled to the side of the road and made sure everyone got off the coach safely.

"The trip was organised as part of our activities week and fortunately the pupils still got to London and only missed an hour of their visit to the museum, so in the end everything turned out well."

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