AN 11-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with a fire at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School.
The fire broke out in a male toilet block shortly before noon on Friday and fire crews from Ashbourne and Wirksworth attended, with officers donning breathing apparatus to extinguish the fire.
All 950 pupils that were on the Green Road site at the time were evacuated from lessons and stood in silence in the field next to the school for nearly an hour while the crews set to work.
A senior fire officer has praised the work carried out by staff and teachers in evacuating the building, and praised the pupils for their behaviour.
Station manager Damien West, who attended to oversee the operation, said he was impressed with the efficiency of the school.
He said: “When the initial crews arrived it was clear to see the school’s fire plan that had been put in place had worked perfectly and this meant we could focus on the job in hand.
“It showed a good example of how fire procedures should be carried out and was very pleasing to see.”
Head teacher Ann Martin also praised the staff and pupils.
She told the News Telegraph: “The staff have been brilliant and I’m very proud of the students because some of them had to stand out there for about 40 minutes.”
However, shortly after the incident, the school staff came under fire from parents who took to social networking and left comments on the News Telegraph website to complain that their children had gone without lunch.
One comment left on the story when we exclusively broke news of the fire said: “Children whose bags containing their packed lunches were in the cordoned-off area following the fire went hungry.
“They did not get their bags with their lunch in until 30 mins before the end of school. Very disappointingly, no provision was made to offer them any sort of nourishment.”
Mrs Martin explained that serving lunches when the children returned to some areas of the school was hampered by a lack of gas or electricity, due to the services being turned off by firemen.
However she insisted that every child was offered a meal at the canteen once it became operational, including those unable to get to their packed lunches.
She said: “There was nothing we could do as the fire officers took control of the building. Food was available for all students, although some did refuse.”