'I've never cried in fear like I did today': Worried parents react to bomb hoax 'chaos' at Sheffield school

Worried parents have described the scenes of 'chaos' at a Sheffield school this morning after it was evacuated due to a bomb threat.

Monday, 18th December 2017, 3:08 pm
Updated Monday, 18th December 2017, 3:10 pm
Birley College

Officers were called to Birley Academy at around 9.40am after being alerted to a 'suspicious incident'.

The college chose to immediately evacuate students as a 'precautionary measure' before sending a text message to parents at around 11am.

Gina Newton, Headteacher at the school, confirmed to the Star at around 1.15pm that a bomb threat had been made to the school.

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Police have confirmed that no device was found during a sweep of the school and have now confirmed a 15-year-old has been arrested in relation with this incident.

Parents were initially told in the text message there had been an 'incident' at the school and were asked to collect their children from Birley Lane main entrance.

However, they were then told that they should collect their child from Birley Primary Site Thornbridge Avenue in a second message shortly after.

Worried parents rushed to the scene after receiving the texts but said they were faced with a situation of 'chaos' upon arrival.

Many said that they were unable to get in touch with their children while others had already returned home after being evacuated from the building.

Hayley Jayne Hewitt said: "What concerns me is the lack of record of where the children were once you let them out of the gates. It was chaos outside that school.

"We were told to pick kids up from the primary but all you did was open the back gates of the field and let them all go where they wanted."

Some students reported that they were stood on the field by the primary school for around two hours as they waited for their parents to arrive.

Furious parents complained that they had not been told quickly enough about the evacuation and criticised the lack of information about the nature of the incident.

Faye Marie: said: "Try being a parent when you're kids have been evacuated. They had no phone because they're not allowed them and you can’t find them.

"Wasn’t organised at all and they’d been stood on grass for 3 hours, I’ve never cried in fear for my kids like I did today."

Katie Kelk said: "The school need to inform parents of what's happened! My child is home safe, it's disgusting parents didn't know until 11am when it happened at 9.40am!"

However, others praised the school for getting the children out 'safely and efficiently'.

Alison Mansell said: "Glad to know that school efficiently evacuated all pupils and all are safe .

"Also I’m pleased that children were not informed of the real reason to avoid panic and distress during this very concerning situation."

Andrea Beckingham said: "The important thing for now is that everyone was safely evacuated.

"Hopefully the procedures will be scrutinised and changed/improved in view of lessons learned from today's incident.

Ms Newton defended the school's actions and said that student and staff safety was their priority at all times.

She said: "In line with our school continuity plan and through constant liaison with the police, we took the necessary planned steps to ensure student and staff safety at all times.

"We would like to thank everyone for ensuring our safeguarding practices were followed throughout.”

Police sniffer dogs were on the scene as police carried out a full sweep of the building but did not discover any devices.

Small groups of students were escorted out of the building by police, many without their mobile phones or house keys.

A 15-year-old boy has now been arrested on suspicion of malicious communications and is currently in police custody.

Chief Superintendent Natalie Shaw said: “After a prolonged search of Birley Academy, a device has not been found.

“Hoax calls are malicious and irresponsible, they can cause a considerable deal of distress.

“Anyone found to have committed this offence could face a prison sentence.”