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Schoolchildren suffered panic attacks and were left crying after a role-play event in which one of their teachers was “shot dead” in the playground.

The children, aged 10 to 13, were traumatised by the stunt, which was part of a science lesson, and were not told that it was a stunt for ten minutes.

Well I guess Zimbardo’s Hell was science too.

The exercise at Blackminster Middle School in Evesham, Worcestershire, began when pupils heard that there was a gun in the school. Five minutes later the alarm bell sounded and more than 300 were sent outside and saw three teachers running across the field.

They saw a “gunman” in the distance and heard what sounded like gunfire before seeing Mr Kent, a religious education teacher, fall to the ground. Colleagues appeared to attempt to resuscitate him.

I’m struggling here. The thing I’m really struggling with is that this whole demented caper must have been planned. Did no one say this is a really bad idea? And what if one of those kids had a mobile and texted the cops and an armed response unit had pitched-up to witness this particular tableau vivant? Wasting police time would be the least of their worries…

Parents claimed that the children were sent back to their classrooms and called into the assembly hall ten minutes later to see that Mr Kent was alive and uninjured. Some said that their children were so shaken by the exercise on Tuesday afternoon that they were sick in the toilets, suffered panic attacks and were still frightened when they got home.

The RE teacher back from the dead! Having said that, from my personal experience of RE teachers it would be hard to tell.

The Reichsfuhrer for children, that incredibly cunning stunt Ed Balls, has said that the Laughing and Grief are irrelevant these days. It would appear that these subjects are alive and well in Worcestershire under the leadership of Sillius Sodus.

Apparently the head teacher has written to parents and promised, “Any role-play activities in the future will be based on themes that are less controversial and non-violent”. Quite what role-play of any form has to do with science lessons is frankly beyond me. Call me old-fashioned but shouldn’t they be learning Ohm’s Law or melting ice in a bucket or something?

Read the whole thing here.


  1. ivan says:

    The school was only trying to reinforce the idea that the public should be unarmed. At least that’s my take on it.

    If we had an armed population that would never have happened – the government has a lot to answer for.

  2. RAB says:

    There’s a lot of this sort of thing going on.
    It appears that role playing and empathy is all, and straightforward education has gone out the window.

  3. Bod says:

    Think of the reaction if they roleplayed the last few hours of Mussolini’s or Ceaucescu’s lives.

    I’m sure there’s a lesson there too.

  4. NickM says:

    Naughty but nice Bod!

  5. RAB says:

    This is a quote from the headmaster in the Times version…

    “It was one of the more popular teachers who played the victim, I don’t think there would have been as much concern if it was one or two of the others.”

    Does fuckin wonders for Staff morale does that!

    These people are teaching our children (not mine, I dont have any)
    We are fuckety fuck fucked folks.

  6. Jay Thomas says:

    The same head says

    “We now feel that the time delay was too long and pupils should have been reassured instantly. Any role-play activities in the future will be based on themes that are less controversial and non-violent.”

    In other words he still doesn’t have the slightest ethical problem with trying to convince his pupils SOMEONE HAS BEEN MURDERED. He just conceeds ‘the execution’ if you’ll pardon the pun, could have used some work. What a first grade asshole. How is someone as insane as this given responsibility over children?

    Incidentally the Times article is pretty shoddy journalism in that the question ‘what the hell was the intended lesson behind this piece of child abuse? What were they trying to communicate? And why doesn’t the journalist think that is a relevant fact worth investigating?

  7. Pa Annoyed says:

    From The Telegraph: “It said the role-playing exercise had been intended to teach Year 8 pupils how to investigate, collect facts and analyse evidence.”

    It’s a standard sort of scenario used by psychologists, the police, and so on to teach people about the limits of memory with regard to eye-witnesses. But standard scientific ethics rules require that people know and give consent in advance for such a role-play to occur, although (obviously) not specifying exactly what it will be about. It interferes with the accuracy/realism of the results, but is required precisely because of effects on experimental subjects such as this.

    I think the trouble the teachers had is that it doesn’t seem shocking if you know it isn’t real. When you see it happen on TV, all you’re thinking about is how Columbo is going to solve this one. People talk of TV desensitising us to violence, but normal people can tell fiction from reality, and desensitising in one isn’t generally desensitising in the other. An important lesson.

    There is of course a genre of TV that perpetrates the same sort of thing on the unwitting for public entertainment, albeit not usually anaything as extreme. “Pranks” and “practical jokes” they call it. I’ve never liked it, myself.

  8. NickM says:

    If that was the point then it’s scientific poppycock because it horribly blurs the distinction between subject and investigator. You know the way doctors are not meant to self-diagnose and all that.

    In anycase shouldn’t they have been more gainfully employed boiling leaves or breeding fruit flies or something.

    I mean that’s science, right? Not cack-handed, half-assed psychology experiments.

  9. JuliaM says:

    A commenter over at my blog mused on what might have happened had one of the kids (or a passerby) phoned the police. A report of a gun might have brought an ARV.

    Then things might have got interesting!

  10. NickM says:

    “And what if one of those kids had a mobile and texted the cops and an armed response unit had pitched-up to witness this particular tableau vivant? Wasting police time would be the least of their worries…”

    From my original post. Way ahead of you Julia…

  11. Locke says:

    Well, the clue was there wasn’t it?

    If you hear the gunshot before you see the guy fall over, you know something fishy is going on.

    They won’t be forgetting that lesson in a hurry.

    More lessons of this kind please.

  12. Locke says:

    Then again, I suppose it takes a while for a guy to realise he’s dead and fall over.

    I retract my previous statement.

  13. NickM says:

    If it had been a drama teacher… Quite a while. A lot of eye-roling and protestations, “I have been slain!” and all that.

  14. jameshigham says:

    The thing I’m really struggling with is that this whole demented caper must have been planned.

    You’re dealing here with a new PC/idiot mentality in schools now and these are the people let loose on our children.

  15. Locke says:

    When my uncle went to school there was a real threat, every day, that a big bomb would be dropped on his head and that he’d die. Obviously not advocating this as a way of toughening up the latest generation of youngsters, but maybe we should get the incident into perspective before we start pandering to mewling wimps (it only encourages them). Not really up with Daily Mail-ese, but I’d have thought that the only people who’d complain about something like this would be the PC/elfinsaftey/ namby pamby crowd.
    My physics teacher used to have us throw water balloons off the school roof at the first years. If teachers aren’t allowed to produce lessons with a bit of originality, a bit of fun and a bit of interest, then school is going to be really shit.

  16. NickM says:

    It wasn’t like the teachers were welcoming the Luftwaffe or Soviets or whoever. This was a silly stunt of zero educational value.

  17. RAB says:

    You dont have to traumatise the kids to do this kind of experiment.

    No doubt you are all familiar with the old WW1 “Send three and fourpence we are going to a dance”?
    This is an exercise in distortion of information which can happen quite quickly.
    What had happened was the original message from the front line “Send reinforcements we are going to advance” had been passed by word of mouth back to the headquarters that it arrived in the garbled form as above.
    We tried it in school with a similar message and yes it does get distorted.

    We also tried an experiment to test witness reliability and accuracy, but the difference between my teachers and this bunch of half arsed clowns is that we were told that we were to witness an incident, but not told what. We were then required to write down what we thought we had seen, and to describe the players, what they were wearing, height weight etc etc. Very instructive indeed, there being such variations between what we thought had happened.
    No wailing or gnashing of teeth was needed at all.

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