Messenger readers will undoubtedly have seen and heard reports over the last couple of days regarding the ‘riot’ at Fir Vale School.
As always in such instances, rumour and fear have spread much quicker than truth and reason.
Contrary to those rumours, no one was stabbed in the incident. No knives or guns were involved in the incident. While undoubtedly scary, it was not, as certain tabloids have claimed, “like World War 3.”
Reports from those at the scene were clear that a fight broke out between two girls in the school canteen, and this quickly escalated as other students joined in.
As parents, and friends, turned up outside the school to ensure their children were safe, further scuffles broke out, at which point the police arrived, dispersing the group outside, with the help of police dogs.
One person received medical treatment at the scene for a minor injury.
The school re-opened, on shortened hours, on both Thursday and Friday. Normal hours will be resumed from Monday. Head teacher Simon Hawkins said:
“[A shortened school day] will mean pupils and staff can have a smoother transition back to school. Pupils will go straight to coaching time and then at 11.25am pick up their usual lessons. However, any pupil that needs to be in school at their usual time will be supervised in the main hall/ dining room until 11am. Any child that needs additional help or support will receive it.”
Superintendent Shelley Hemsley, from South Yorkshire Police, said:
“I’d like to offer my reassurance to the local community that this incident was resolved shortly after and officers have remained in the area since, as the school closed for the day. The school also acted quickly and efficiently, in dealing with the initial incident and then calling us.
“We are now working with the school and the local community to provide reassurance and will be in the area this evening, tomorrow morning and over the coming days as students head to and leave school.
“We will of course be reviewing CCTV footage of the incident, and particularly of the crowds gathered outside of the school and any subsequent criminality which comes to light will be investigated.
“This incident was quickly resolved and students left for the day as normal. We are grateful for the patience and cooperation of the community and the school as officers responded and dealt with what happened.”
Mr Simon Hawkins, head teacher at the school said:
“We are continuing to work with the police in relation to this incident, which was resolved quickly and efficiently and I’d like to reassure parents and students that school will return as normal tomorrow and that Fir Vale School is a happy, calm and safe environment.”
Some parents and students have expressed uneasiness at the force used to subdue the fights, with pictures of a dogs jaw around a pupils arm, and another of a female pupil being pushed onto a car bonnet raising concern. Many others have strongly praised the police response, however, commending their intervention for not letting the situation escalate. The school have held a number of meetings with parents/carers to calm their fears.
Despite this recent setback, Fir Vale School has generally been recognised as having made significant improvements in behaviour recently, with exclusions down by 74%, and 95% of parents surveyed saying they would recommend the school.