ANGRY parents stormed the school gates after Barnsley Academy was put into lockdown yesterday amid fears of a ‘chemical incident’.

Hundreds of parents gathered outside the school at Farm Road, Kendray, yesterday afternoon after a posting on the school’s Facebook page that pupils would remain inside while the fire brigade investigated ‘a possible incident’.

A member of staff told parents at the gates some pupils in school had been feeling unwell and had developed a rash.

He also read out a list of ten names of pupils directly affected, and their parents were allowed to go in straight away. The others were told to wait at the gates.
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Police were assisting the school in keeping parents at the gates but after one frustrated parent confronted officers about what was going on, the crowd stormed through the gates and walked up to the main school entrance.

Michala Tomes was contacted by school to be informed her daughter Millie was one of the pupils affected.

She said: “I was told my daughter had a rash but was not unwell. It was quite a brief call. She is in year eight but it sounds like a few year groups were affected.”

In addition to police, four fire engines and the ambulance service attended.

Philip Dickinson, who has a son in year 11, said: “There was various rumours going around from it being midges, to a chemical leak, to someone who had been doing a dissection in school and had left it out overnight, and it had been infested with insects.

“No one knows for sure. There was a lot of general misinformation.”

Mr Dickinson said his son was let out of school at about 3.45pm, and he had been waiting at the school alongside other parents to find out what was happening.

“No one was giving us any general updates as such. I think they could have kept parents better informed,” he said.

Mr Dickinson said he understood the school is expected to open as normal today.

Another parent said: “The police were trying to keep us at bay but it got to the point where the parents had to storm the driveway. It is disgusting how it has been handled, there have been people panicking. And we still haven’t heard if they could be ill through the night.”

Year 11 student Brandon Wombwell said: “We were in class doing work when an senior leadership team member came in and said we had got to move classrooms away from the science corridor. One of the teachers said they couldn’t tell us what was going off but it was something during science.”

A spokesman for the fire service said: "Some pupils and staff presented with similar symptoms. Because of this, we were mobilised as a precaution because we have equipment we can use to find if there had been some kind of chemical leak. But we have not been able to find anything using that equipment.

"The symptoms are disappearing now, and we came away from the scene and handed the school back to the school principal.

"I'm certain no one attended hospital."

A spokesman for the ambulance said they attended just after 1pm after reports of pupils and staff presenting with similar symptons.

“Ambulance resources were dispatched to the scene, along with fire and police service colleagues. All patients have been checked over and provided with advice, no patients needed to be conveyed to hospital.

“The nature of the incident remains uncertain but there is no cause for public alarm.”

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