Monday, 18 April 2016

Fire in a Crowded Classroom

The Head unveiled plans this week for the school to test its new terrorism lockdown plan, measures put in place in the event of a terrorist attack on the school.

In a letter to parents, he remarked that parents “may be aware from recent news items that there has been a spate of bomb scares at London secondary and primary schools”. The so-called “spate” occurred in the space of two days in January after the Paris attacks, and ended up being traced to a fourteen-year-old boy.

He said in the event of an evacuation, the school would “send students home before the end of the school day, possibly without their bags”. The bag searching suggests the terrorist may be themselves a student, in which case it is not impossible to hide bombs in other places (such as the shoulder-pads of the blazer or the block-like shoes most people now have to wear).

The Head said that we must be “alert, but not alarmed”, which is why we are so drastically changing the school’s security policy. For the first time in a long time, however, such plans are not the Head’s fault. According to reports, the measures were enforced by Camden, who is said to have had them handed down from central government, along with all London authorities in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Defending the plans in an assembly, the Head argued that terrorist attacks on schools were not unprecedented. However, many of such attacks happen in America in the form of high school massacres by domestic terrorists. Whilst domestic terrorists are a potential threat in the UK - the 7/7 attacks showing as much - many high school massacres are committed by pupils at the school, in which case a lockdown could be futile, if not more damaging.

Ignoring the fact that an attack on a North London school is less likely than a higher priority target in central London, the plans include invacuation maneuvers, as opposed to evacuation, so students aren't caught in a secondary attack as they leave, keeping them “as safe as possible until help arrives” behind the non-locking, asbestos-ridden doors of the school. The Head said of this that the lockdown is “intended to frustrate intruders”, them being terrorists suggesting a certain amount of frustration with the West already.

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