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Fire Drill

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by GrammarBear, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. GrammarBear

    GrammarBear New commenter

    Context: I am DH in a Primary school my HT has been off sick for the last few weeks. We have an AHT who is uber ambitious and well connected in our MAT. I have a poor working relationship with her but a great one with my HT.

    My issue is this:
    On the last day of term (Friday) a fire drill was instigated. On this particular day I was teaching. The AHT took it on herself to organise a fire drill with the MAT's estate manager. The AHT took five children randomly from classes prior to the drill. Once we had counted pupils etc in our fire lines myself and others reaslied that pupil's were missing.The 5 pupils were placed in various places around school.Staff were obviously concerned and I returned into school with a member of staff to locate the pupils. Rightly or wrongly this is what I did. Although I was teaching as the senior teacher in the school surely this young upstart of an AHT should have run this by me? This is not the first time she has pulled a stunt like this.

    I did not speak to her because I was so cross, she would have argued back, she is very connected and I fear the repercussions. I am speaking with my union on Monday. Any advice from you kind folk is always much apprciated.
     
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  2. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    I have never heard of this before, of children being 'hidden' for a fire drill. I don't know the legal ins and outs so can't offer advice but I find it very strange to do this.
     
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    When I was on SLT we used to get the caretaker to make Fire Drills more realistic and useful by various means - one was blocking a particular staircase (could staff & pupils work out how to evacuate safely in a timely fashion, despite the obvious route being blocked?) or 'kidnapping' a pupil at random (so we could check whether our procedures would identify the missing pupil). These worked well.

    So basically I'm in favour of this, but (of course) SLT should know in advance...and the OP should NOT go back into a school (in a real fire) - that's the job of the Fire Brigade.
     
  4. GrammarBear

    GrammarBear New commenter

    Thanks Frank for your thoughts.
     
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  5. CWadd

    CWadd Senior commenter

    This is bizarre - she is prepared to "hide" children during a fire drill. That has legal repercussions as it's putting children at risk. Tell the HT.
     
  6. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    No.
    Just no.
    These are Primary children.
    They have a remit to "hide" indoors when the fire alarm is going off?
    No, for goodness sake!
    The whole point of a fire drill is for the whole school community to practice a scenario which is designed to save lives.
    What was she thinking? What on earth could you be thinking to instruct such young people to deviate from a life saving strategy in a drill?
    Everybody at the time of the drill had a chance to practice EXCEPT these five children.
    They are tiny not-yet formed people.
    Who is going to take responsibility when there is a real fire, and one of those five thinks "Aha! I think I'll go hide in the broom cupboard-I quite fancy the thrill of being rescued"

    This shocks me, this story.
    Those five children-what do their parents think about this?
    Disgusted.

    Do you know what I would do?I would actually ask your local Community Fire Officer (there will be one, maybe under a different name) for their opinion on this-maybe it is a thing. Maybe I am wrong. But ask them. Ask what they would say to a Primary School contemplating making kids instrumental in this way and thereby excluding them from the drill experience. I think they would be outraged. And your union. It seems so incredibly ignorant.

    Your AHT sounds like somebody who "has a genuine drive to implement change". Feel sorry for you.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018
  7. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    That is the most stupid thing I have ever heard and requires a full investigation

    You must make a full report to the governors and make as much fuss as you can over this.

    Crazy
     
  8. rustyfeathers

    rustyfeathers Occasional commenter

    ...what if a genuine fire had occurred at the time?! I once blew some of my teenagers' minds when they were dawdling out, having heard that it was a drill, "not a real fire", by pointing out that a fire isn't just going to hold off because a drill is happening. All a drill means is that someone has triggered the alarm -- NOT that there isn't ALSO an actual genuine fire as well.

    I totally agree with skrobson, too -- these kids are being taught a very dangerous lesson. And so are others, who may fancy being the "hider" next time. We cannot teach kids that fire drills are games!

    (And no, you shouldn't have gone back in, but you know this, and, having been in a school fire myself, I've very nearly done the exact same thing on sheer instinct, so fully sympathetic. You know next time - touch wood, etc.)
     
  9. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    Your responsibility on clearing the buildings is to report to the incident commander either that all are accounted for (and the fire crew will search anyway) or that there are individuals missing and where they might be. Your Fire Orders should prohibit re-entering the buildings.
    Fire drills are a nightmare always as the neat and tidy arrangement when all the pupils are in class when the alarm sounds is unlikely to be representative of reality. A real fire just before registration, or at the end of the day as children are leaving, or in the lunch break is likely to reveal really "interesting" problems of accounting for everybody. Further problems arise with visitors, contractors, and staff off site for whatever reason. This would be even more true for a school that hasn't got a secure perimeter.....
     
    blueskydreaming and JohnJCazorla like this.
  10. CWadd

    CWadd Senior commenter

    This reminds me of a colleague I worked with at my first school. I was the then school rep for one Union. She told me that when the fire drill went, she insisted on the students switching off computers and putting up chairs. She then asked if anything went wrong, would I represent her?

    I told her it wouldn't be me representing her, it'd be a lawyer. I agree with others. HT, and Governors.
     
    FormosaRed likes this.
  11. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    The more I think about this - the more bonkers it becomes.

    Can you imagine if there had been a real fire and one of the "hiders" had been trapped.

    It's a disciplinary - if not a suspension.
     
  12. modgepodge

    modgepodge Occasional commenter

    My old head did this - ‘hid’ a child. However it was the most well behaved year 6 in school, and when I said ‘does anyone know where X is?’ when I realised she was missing, the other kids said the head had called her out of the lesson 2 minutes before the bell started (i wasn’t teaching my class at the time) I realised something was afoot. The child had been told to wait in the heads office while we all evacuated. The head just wanted to check we knew what procedure was when a child wasn’t accounted for - which I did and followed.

    I didn’t have an issue with it at the time but hadn’t considered the unlikely event that an actual fire could happen during the drill and the child would remain where told, potentially putting her in danger. In my opinion she was sensible enough to know what to do in an actual fire and wouldn’t hide again (the head told her why she had been asked to hide). Bit undecided on this one.

    The big difference is, the head arranged this. Seems odd, and out of an assistant heads remit, to be organising a fire drill at all (don’t they have anything better to do?!) let alone changing usual procedure like this. OP I’d be emailing your head - keep personality out of it, Just say ‘I was surprised about this for the following reasons, please could you explain the rationale behind it’ or similar - let her decide how to handle it with the AH as it’s not really your job. I’d imagine the head may feel similarly to you and take the AH to task over it!
     
  13. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You cannot do that with the kids.

    If the AHT herself wanted to test the procedure by pretending to have had a panic attack and be hiding in the toilet? That'd be up to her.

    But she does NOT use the kids as her test subjects.

    That has to be reported. Are you acting as HT in the absence of the HT? I assume that is the case. To whom you report directly? Report it to them. Now.
     
  14. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Coming back to this and reading further ideas, yes, I agree it's just about a disciplinary matter. You'd need to corroborate the wrongness of it first though, as I suggested,via the fire service, the union, via reference to the official school fire drill procedure.

    Some posters suggest contacting your HT, but it's such a big thing and they are off sick-you just can't, can you? Unless they have suggested receiving updates from school is required by them. Have they broken a hip, or are they suffering from stress? There's a difference.

    There is also the additional matter of having reentered the building yourself-you will have to bite the bullet and be happy to say you did the wrong thing there. If your AHT is "popular" as you say, then I'm sure they will pounce on that. You are not unimpeachable in this, sadly, and it will always be the "popular" people who will put the biggest banner to that rather than their own mistakes.
    Who cares though? Your intention was clearly in response to a situation she engineered.
    Disgraceful.

    I'd also be keen to hear from parents-if those 5 children reported at home what happened then at least one set of parents is likely to not like what happened.It depends on your cohort, but if it were my own child, I'd complain vociferously to the school. The timing is the thing-you've come here with the problem right on the cusp of a holiday.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018
  15. aypi

    aypi Occasional commenter

    You identified 5 pupils were missing, excellent. This should have been reported to the person responsible for the count. When you approached the school to re-enter you should have been challenged, and told not to enter the school.
    Did the AHT see you go into the building?
     
    agathamorse likes this.
  16. aypi

    aypi Occasional commenter

    Terrible behaviour.
     
  17. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    Grammar,

    Put simply, the AHT took 5 pupils from their classes and, therefore, became responsible for those children.
    When the fire drill sounded, she should have taken those 5 pupils with her to the agreed fire assembly point.
    This is what usually happens when, for example, pupils are with a Learning Support Teacher, a PE Specialist or an Instrumental Instructor - you don't want pupils returning to their classrooms and you certainly don't want them hidden around the school.

    When all pupils and staff have reached the fire assembly point, there can be a register check and head count of all pupils, taking into account those who have been withdrawn from the care of their classroom teacher.
    Even though it was a fire drill, you had no way of knowing that when you went back into the building in search of the missing pupils so, in effect, the AHT was putting your life at risk. It was only a natural reaction on your part.
    Altogether, a very stupid idea on the part of the AHT.

    From your comments, it appears you feel she may have been trying to undermine you by 'testing the system'.
    I would suggest playing her at her own game by asking for a review of fire drill arrangements so that, in the event of a fire or fire drill, all members of staff are fully aware of their responsibilities for any pupils taken out of class.
    Of course, the above dangerous 'experiment' would probably never have happened in the first place if the AHT had followed normal sensible practice and checked it out with the senior member of staff in the school at the time - a point worth making to the HT on their return to work.

    P.S. I once knew a HT who added a bit of realism to a fire drill by setting off a theatrical 'smoke bomb' in a school cupboard. Unfortunately, the device set fire to the school and the Fire Brigade had to called, leaving everyone shivering outside. The Fire Brigade did not see the funny side of it so, when it comes to fire drills - keep it simple!
     
  18. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Do not contact the HT. She is off sick. She is not your current line manager. That's not fair.

    You have to deal with this. The appropriate way is to report your concerns to the relevant person who is higher up in the food chain. I don't care if that person is best pals with the AHT. The AHT behaved wrongly. Don't compound it by not following the rules yourself.
     
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    The idea with fire drills is to get the kids out safely - not play silly games.
     
  20. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    I was that child!

    When I was in the upper sixth and on a free period, I was told to hide in the girls toilets, go into a cubicle and not say anything unless someone banged on the cubicle door.
     
    agathamorse likes this.

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