28th Jun, 2022

The full story of how Balsall Common Primary School pupils got caught up in Westminster terror attack

YOUNGSTERS from Balsall Common primary School were just leaving Parliament after a day visit when Wednesday’s terrorist atrocities unfolded – The Observer can reveal.

Some of the children, staff and parent helpers were outside the building as the gunshots sounded across the capital, while others were in the Houses of Parliament gift shop.

As they were a distance away from the incident, some of those outside reported hearing a popping sound and a bang – but it was not obvious the sounds were gun fire or the car crashing into Westminster Bridge.

Immediately, the traffic and buses came to a standstill, meaning the youngsters were not able to see anything.

However, the following minutes saw London filled with the sound of sirens, which sparked quick-thinking staff and helpers into action as they instinctively knew something was seriously wrong.

They gathered up the the children and moved as quickly as possible away from the sounds of the sirens to safety.

Checking their maps, the teachers contacted the bus drivers – Malc and Kev from Caterall’s coach company in Southam – and arranged to meet them at a new location away from Westminster and the perceived danger.

Graeme Burgess, headteacher at Balsall Common primary School spoke to Observer editor Chris Willmott the morning after the terrorist attack, which has claimed the lives of three innocent victims and the attacker who was shot dead by armed police guarding Westminster.

“Staff immediately knew something was wrong and jumped into action, whisking the children to safety,” he said.

“Their actions – and the amazing response of the children who followed instructions and behaved impeccably in a crisis – meant they were led very quickly to safety.

“A huge thank you also to Malc and Kev from the coach comapny Caterall’s who managed to wind their way across the city to pick us up and bring us home safely.”

Mr Burgess added that teachers called the school within minutes to say they had all the children safe and with them and that they were retreating to a safe place to get on the coaches and get out of London as soon as possible.

“The teachers let us know, within minutes of the attack, that all the children were safe and told us their plan to move away from the area and meet the coaches at a new agreed location.

“Our prime concern was to get the children to safety and I told the teachers to let me know when that was the case.

“There was a time gap of around an hour-and-a-half between the incident and the children being safely loaded onto the bus and driven home.”

Parents were kept informed at all times and the school sent out information via Twitter.

The school has met with all pupils this morning to talk about their experience and let them know help is on-hand should it be required.

“These things can often take a few days to hit home, but thankfully the children did not witness any of the awful incident,” Mr Burgess added.

“Whilst we are relieved that all of our children were safe, the school would like to extend their condolences to those who lost loved ones in this horrendous incident.”

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