Psychological Trauma Coming To A Primary School Near You

UK school children have once again been frightened after a careless stunt that was supposed to improve their creative writing [1].

Nine and ten year olds attending the Wincheap Foundation Primary School in Canterbury, were interrupted mid lesson by a commotion outside. As they were encouraged to peer out the window they saw their school caretaker abducted by a man wearing a red-wig. The kidnapper forced the caretaker at gun-point in to a vehicle, before speeding out of the school-grounds.

In reality it wasn’t a real abduction. The man in the red wig was Clive Close, the school-headmaster. What appeared to be a gun was actually an old water-tap used as a prop. The whole incident had been premeditated as part of a bizarre teaching method that’s supposed to spark children’s imagination and help improve their creative writing in English lessons.

The most confusing aspect of the incident however was not the performance itself (a lack of visual stimulation in classrooms is a major criticism of modern teaching), but rather the fact that pupils were first led to believe the incident was real.

One parent commented: “There are a lot of other ways they could have debated something like that.”

Although Deputy head Nicola Dawson was quick to remind parents of how it was helping them in the league tables: “These sort of things have had a huge impact on our writing results,” parents did not appreciate their children being left scared.

“I am of the opinion – as are several other parents – that primary school children should not be scared stiff in class,” remarked another parent.

This Shock and Awe approach to learning has slowly crept in to the curriculum over the past few years, without a clear explanation as to why pupils are being tricked. Surely the same kind of performance could be used for the same ends, without blurring the lines between reality and fiction? Imagine the giggling and fun that would be had if the kids were informed beforehand and then watched their teachers goofing around in a performance. Instead children are being left traumatized by careless teachers.

As first reported by The Telegraph, in July 2009 at Southway Junior School, in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, Children saw a ‘spaceship’ crash near their school and then aliens grabbed a member of staff as part of a “performance”. The “alien invasion” show, which was supported by Sussex Police, took place without parents being informed, leaving some furious that they had to comfort their terrified children. Police contributed to the invasion by providing sirens and flashing blue lights to signify the landing of the craft just before morning classes on July 10.

It wasn’t made clear to some students, even after the staged events, that it was indeed a performance. One unnamed mother recounted her story:

“God only knows what the school was playing at. I mean to shock children into thinking that the aliens have landed and have abducted a teacher is just a little too much for seven-year-olds. My daughter was deeply upset by it all and came home looking shell shocked. She wasn’t sure what had happened and really wanted to know that everything was going to be alright.”

Many parents share the struggle of getting a child soundly off to sleep when they see something on the TV, they don’t expect them to then be terrified in the classroom.

In November 2009 at the Foxhill Primary School in Sheffield, children arriving at the school in the morning were greeted with a pool of blood and a police crime scene. One female member of staff in on the act, pretended to have been assaulted, and some children were then tasked to help police in the investigation, under the impression the attacker could still be on school grounds.

The school made no attempt to put the traumatized children’s minds at ease, because the alleged problem solving exercise wasn’t exposed as such until 4 days in to the week.

One parent told The Telegraph: “I think it’s disgusting – the children are too frightened to go back to school because it has not been made clear it’s a fictitious incident.”

St Hilary’s Primary School in Lanarkshire, Scotland, has also undertaken similar stunts. As reported by Mail Online:
A group of stunned primary school children began crying when their teacher told them during a bizarre Holocaust game that they were to be taken away from their families. The pupils, aged 11, became upset after a number of them were segregated and told they were being sent away or might end up in an orphanage. The ordeal was meant to give the youngsters at the Lanarkshire school an insight into the horrors faced by Jewish children during World War II.

One parent who stood up to the system and lodged an official complaint wrote:

Mrs McGlynn told the children they would probably have to be sent away from their families and that their parents had been informed about this and knew all about it.

‘When one child asked if that meant they might have to go to an orphanage, they were told that might be a possibility.

‘At that point many of the children became very distressed.

‘One boy kicked his chair over, one was angry and demanded to speak to someone in charge but most were crying on a scale ranging from mildly to severely.

‘Their ordeal lasted between 12 and 15 minutes before the children were informed that it was all an act but that the role play would continue until lunchtime.’

In March 2010 at the Blackminster Middle School, in Evesham, Worcestershire, children were left crying and traumatized when they saw a man brandishing a gun shoot dead Richard Kent, their science teacher, as he ran across the school field. Following a loud bang simulating a gunshot, other staff involved in the act rushed to the teacher’s aid and appeared to try to resuscitate him.

There was a delay of 10 minutes before weeping pupils were taken back to the assembly hall where teachers explained that the pretend shooting had been laid on as part of a science lesson.

Some children were so upset that they were sick afterwards, parents said.

As reported by BBC News: Head teacher Terry Holland admitted the acting was “a bit too enthusiastic,” and apologised to parents.

Under the guise of “problem solving”, “creative writing” or “science”, the UK’s children are being exposed to what can only really be described as psychological trauma without their parent’s consent. Whether this is due to a complete lack of common sense or perhaps some other agenda is not clear.

The most worrying aspect is that despite criticisms and media coverage that shows children really are being frightened, schools are carrying on making the same mistakes.

Whose Idea Was It?

We now know at least one of the culprits behind this method of teaching is the National Literacy Trust, although specific details are scant.

In a 2011 resource available for teachers, that looks at improving children’s writing skills, it suggests [2]: “Try bringing in local role models such as fireman or stage an alien invasion to stimulate creativity.

According to the NLT’s website, for £75 per school per year up to 5 members of staff can register to gain access to their resources [3].

There is also a “Leader’s Network” that brings consultants, lead teachers, coordinators, librarians, advanced skills teachers and other leaders, together, and may be where these kinds of ideas have sprung up from [4].

One would assume the independent charity aren’t advocating the frightening of children, but teachers are obviously not being given appropriate guidelines on how to properly stage the performances. Perhaps the most worrying thing is that they need to be guided at all. What happened to common sense?

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  • Steve

    This is child abuse, if my child was in school that did this, I would take them out of this school and they would not go back. Anybody who thinks this is a good idea should not be near children and anybody who does sick stuff like this should be in jail or mental hospital.

  • Sam

    If this occurred in my childrens school I would be outraged. Small children are not able to deal with this kind of trauma; nor should they have to by being subjected to it. If a parent took it upon themselves to scare their own kids half to death for a laugh they would be investigated and prosecuted and rightly so. I agree that this is abuse and by those who are supposed to be caring for them.

  • Adam Johnson

    Hmm, why is it that this sort of behaviour doesn’t shock me? This is an absolute disgrace, yet it doesn’t surprise me that the Government are now targeting the minds of young children to terrify them into believing that security is required wherever they step.

  • Beatrice Kiddo

    People need to WAKE UP as to what runs the Western World, turn that TV off and OPEN YOUR EYES.

    You WILL be sold an alternative to crisis very soon, and if you buy into it, you’ll be damned.

    Freedom against Govt, Religious Corporations, War and Business Corporatism is a LIE.

  • the truth

    the point of school was always to traumatize, theyre just doing it out in the open now

  • rhealynmartinez

    ” I really like reading the whole article. It’s a nice one to spend your time with. I learned a lot.I’m sure lot’s of readers well like to read it more.”

  • kit

    People need to understand child psychology so they can help their children until they’re old enough to fend for themselves. Issuesl ike trust and attachment are vital issues that people should be aware of. Consider courses like this – You can find many similar ones on the net.

  • Derek Gough

    What is the world comming to when this sort of thing can hapen, its no good turning to your councillor or MP because they will do nothing because they are part of this corrupt system. So who can these people go to, answer no one. Its about time that we the people took back our way of life and not be dictated to in this way.

  • K Oz

    I took my child out of school on monday and will be home schooling now. My childs school is amazing and everyone is great, but it is only a matter of time before the school HAS to do what they are told to do!!
    Great article!!

  • Kate

    Nothing has been done because the parents are too stupid and cowardly to do anything. Parents who don’t sue and pull their kids from such a place don’t deserve to be parents and are allowing this abuse to happen. Most sheeple don’t have one damn clue what is going on in this world and sadly their children will suffer the actions of insane people while their imbecile parents run around with their heads up their asses pretending it was all a misunderstanding and return to their pretend la la world. Why, they can’t have their equally ignorant peers thinking bad of them now can they? They dare not step out of the sheeple pen.

    When the system takes their children from school to a safe undisclosed place for their ‘own safety’ and parents never see them again, maybe, just maybe these idiots will wake the hell up. It will most likely be too late by then. These parents are the ones who need their sorry asses kicked.

  • Enough is Enough

    Something similar was done at my high school back in the early ’90s with the students against drunk driving campaign. There was no warning the day before I saw a mock car crash on the front lawn of the school that morning watching on the school bus complete with “victims” in blood-soaked sheets. I and a couple other students were traumatized, thinking it was real and didn’t find out what was going on til homeroom. I was a sophomore then and was just horrified that they would re-enact something and not tell the students what was going on. It didn’t make me more aware of drunk driving. I was angry that a group of students with the cooperation of the faculty would allow this kind of sick campaign to continue. We were also subjected to years of “educational” assemblies against drugs and drunk driving. I think it actually made the problems much worse and it was no wonder there was such a high alcohol and suicide rate for that school.

  • itturnsyouintoadwarf@innit.nut

    “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul” Jung

    “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.”
    Thomas Edison


  • Paige

    Having worked in several schools in and around this area. I wouldn’t call the teaching method itself ‘bizarre’ – a lesson or topic starter like this can be seen to be visually and mentally engaging for the children, and I think in this case it wasn’t handled in the right way.

    This sort of approach hasn’t just ‘snuck in’ to the curriculum, it’s been around for ages! many teachers try to come up with creative approaches to teachng. This is just an example – BLOWN out of proportion – of a teaching and learning exercise not planned out properly.
    It’s not ‘child abuse’, and as a trainee teacher the point of school is NOT to traumatise.

    • Keelan Balderson

      Having worked in several schools in and around this area. I wouldn’t call the teaching method itself ‘bizarre’ – a lesson or topic starter like this can be seen to be visually and mentally engaging for the children, and I think in this case it wasn’t handled in the right way.

      These incidents are mounting up, how can scaring children be called mentally engaging?
      Sure if they’re made well aware of what’s happening, but it’s clear they’re not being in an increasing number of cases. It’s not an isolated incident.

      This sort of approach hasn’t just ‘snuck in’ to the curriculum, it’s been around for ages! many teachers try to come up with creative approaches to teachng. This is just an example – BLOWN out of proportion – of a teaching and learning exercise not planned out properly.
      It’s not ‘child abuse’, and as a trainee teacher the point of school is NOT to traumatise.

      I fear you think I’m attacking you and your chosen profession. Please don’t wear it on your sleeve. Of course school isn’t to traumatise, that’s why this needs to be brought to light in case another bunch of morons stage another traumatizing event.

      Who are behind this method? What safeguards are in place? Why does it keep happening? Perhaps as a teacher you could find out instead of brushing it aside as over-hyped.

      • Contrary Mary

        Bull! This is a psycho mind op same as they have been doing to us all, at very young ages. I do not like it, and can’t imagine anyone thinking this is a good idea if done better!!! PIED PIPERS LURKS AFTER OUR CHILDREN!

      • Christian

        I am bemused by this. The first and foremost role of any teacher is to provide, a safe, secure ( emotional and physical ) and creative learning environment for children. their minds are stimulated by their natural senses not through fear. Shame on the people who thought this is good for their education. : )

  • rebecca

    I think the concept of getting children to think and actually write about real stuff is a good idea. At my childs school they thought long and hard about this and told the children someone was interested in buying part of the school field and putting houses on it, it really sparked a great response from the children as they came up with all these letters to explain why they thought it was a bad idea to have houses next to there school and extra roads, it was brilliant to see them so enthusiastic about the whole thing. I do however think that these alien abductions and a man with a gun kidnapping people at the school is very wrong there are much better, more down to earth ways of getting children to write about the important things in life!

  • Doug

    The purpose of this may be revealed in the fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. Annoyed and desensitized by repeated false alarms, the children will learn to be indifferent to abominations occurring in plain sight. Summary executions and beatings by political thugs will be carried out in front of bored passerby who will later recount the episode with “You should have seen it man, it was so cool..”

  • Rebecca

    These people are sick. There is absolutely NO reason to “stimulate” children this way. All the famous authors have been able to write creatively without one such “stunt” being played on them. The adults who do this and the stupid association who instruct this way are child haters and enjoy frightening children.

  • GIs

    I remember being in a very similar situation in primary 6. a scary looking clown came and knocked on the window of our classroom and a few of my mates got upset.

    upon reading this article i remembered this event.