Kids taken on frozen pond by headteacher

EDUCATION chiefs have defended an under fire headteacher who took primary school children on to a frozen pond.

Dave Gooderham

EDUCATION chiefs have defended an under fire headteacher who took primary school children on to a frozen pond.

The actions of Angie Jones were designed to teach pupils of Great Waldingfield Primary School, near Sudbury, about the dangers of icy weather and water safety.

But it has provoked a mixed response among parents with some calling for Mrs Jones's resignation and others backing the controversial educational project as “fun and controlled”.

Mrs Jones, who is currently signed off sick and not due back at the school until after half term, was last night unavailable for comment.

But she has been backed by Suffolk County Council, the education authority, which has received letters of both complaint and support about the outdoor lesson.

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A council spokesman said: “We have looked carefully into the activity and are satisfied that the children were entirely safe throughout. The water at this point was a few inches deep and the children were securely held throughout by an adult who was standing on the bank.

“This was a properly supervised activity and the children were given clear messages about only going near water when accompanied by an adult. The county council did receive complaints from some parents who had concerns about the activity but also received a number of letters from other parents supporting the headteacher's actions.”

Matthew Taylor and Kerry Templeman, whose six-year-old daughter went on the ice, said in a letter to the council: “We strongly do not accept that the children were in any danger as we have every confidence in Mrs Jones and all her staff.”

Last month's session at the enclosed pond on the school field was used to highlight issues around water safety and taught young pupils from years one and two why ice was unsafe to walk on.

The council said the children were given clear advice during the session and the safety message was echoed later in a school assembly, to which parents were invited.

Jean Misselbrook , chairman of governors at the school, said: “We are obviously sorry that this matter has blown up like this. I can't speak on behalf of the governors as I am not quite sure what the majority feel.

“But I have had in equal measure parents who are for and against it. Some were upset and worried especially when there were national warnings about walking on the ice. But as I understand it, there was no actual walking on the ice, just one child at a time standing on it.

“Other parents have said the school took all the necessary safety precautions. This is a smashing school and we don't want this to wreck its reputation.”