Apology over pupils missing out on flame

THE head teacher of Forfar Academy has apologised for a communication break-down which prevented pupils at the school witnessing up close the Olympic flame’s journey through the town.

In the space of only a few hours last week our popular facebook page got rather heated as pupils and parents alike criticised the school’s policy of only allowing a small group of pupils out of school to cheer the torch as it was carried down the Brechin Road - right past the school’s road end - and down in to Castle Street (see comments on page 20).

Many vented their fury that pupils were forced to watch live coverage on a screen in the assembly hall, whilst others felt their children had missed out on a “chance of a lifetime”.

Head teacher Mr Melvyn Lynch admitted no letters had been issued explaining what the arrangements were.

He told the Dispatch: “That resulted in a degree of confusion which was unfortunate. Lessons can be learned.

“With hindsight maybe there could have been a wee bit more partnership working with the organising committee. They could have detoured off the Brechin Road and had the torch carried round the Forfar Academy playing fields. We could have had all the primary schools up here.”

Mr Lynch explained the school’s samba band was allocated a spot, this year’s sports achievers were allowed out to see the flame and pupils took part in the relay record-breaking attempt at The Myre. The Zoar had been designated as the area for Forfar Academy pupils but health and safety and the Police had dictated it was not feasible for all 1,100 pupils to congregate in that area.

He continued: “Every teacher in the school was given a live link to access video footage of the torch. We took all of the new S1 and current new S2, over 400 kids, into the assembly hall and they watched the full Forfar relay event.” Mr Lynch added he had had “no problem” with parents wishing to take their children out to watch the flame.

He continued: “I had had a discussion with other head teachers and we had no problem if parents wished to take their kids to the event. Unfortunately, that communication to parents didn’t happen and this resulted in confusion and disappointment and I can only apologise. Within the school communication could have been better. Because of security and safety reasons we were encouraged to send a representative group of pupils. It was taken as read we wouldn’t be sending the whole school out. The logistics of taking 1,000 pupils along the Brechin Road was just not on. Communication could have, and should have, been better and I am sorry if anyone was disappointed on the day.” A spokesperson for Angus Council confirmed 40 schools had been chosen to welcome the Olympic Torch to Angus.

“Decisions about the size of pupil groups from individual schools have been made by head teachers, taking account of the circumstances and location of their schools and related pupil management and safety issues.”