In response to the unfortunate events this evening, I feel it is important to clarify the circumstances that led to this. We were first informed about the funeral at 9:00 am this morning. We immediately recognised the potential problems and began to make plans to avoid them. The church office assured us that they would contact the funeral directors and inform them that the funeral would need to leave the church at 3:45 pm in order to give us time for the children to be collected and leave school safely.
Classes were asked to be on the yard and ready to leave at 3:30 pm, which they were. We allowed the funeral directors to use the yard to park their cars so parents had enough space to wait safely in the church car park. After speaking to them, the funeral directors outside church assured me that their colleagues inside and the priest understood that they would not be able to leave church until 3:45 pm.
I was as incredulous as you to see the casket and mourners leave church before this agreed time and enter the playground while our children and parents were leaving. I have to say how proud I am of how respectful our parents and children were as this was happening.
I know many parents are unhappy about what happened and I can assure you that we are too. We will be following up with the church office to ask why a funeral was arranged at this time and seek assurances that it will not happen again. We will also contact the funeral directors to ask why adequate plans had not been put in place by them once the potential problems had been brought to their attention.
As ever, our fundamental priority is to ensure that pupils and parents leave the school safely at the end of the day. Our plans would have ensured this. However, they were compromised by persons and actions beyond our control. Thankfully, the swift action of the staff, the cooperation of the parents and the respectful behaviour of the children meant all were still able to leave safely.