Drapers Academy students denied Olympics tickets because of “health and safety”

Pupils at Drapers’ Academy were left disappointed when their school withdrew the Olympics tickets they were promised – for health and safety reasons.

Drapers’ Academy had been allocated about 25 tickets to various events after students took part in Olympic-themed fundraising activities.

Drapers’, in Harold Hill, planned to take the youngsters as a school trip during the summer holidays.

But just one day before the end of term, some parents received phone calls saying the outing was off.

“It was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Carole Jones, whose daughter Katie has just finished Year 9 at the academy. “They shouldn’t have raised the kids’ hopes in the first place. If you make a decision to do something you should do it.”

Stephen Beeson, the school’s director of finance and administration, said senior leadership had cancalled the trip because of concerns over staffing and the impending school move.

Drapers’ is relocating to a new building on the same site during the summer break.

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“Obviously it’s during the school holidays so we couldn’t guarantee staff would be available,” he said. “Because of the school move we wouldn’t have been able to do any contingency planning – if someone had pulled out we wouldn’t have had access to all the contact details.”

Mr Beeson said storing the teachers’ contact details on a mobile phone would have been impractical because of the number of staff at the school.

“During the school holidays, teachers aren’t required to work,” he said. “It’s about the health and safety of the children.”

But Ms Jones said concerns about out-of-hours trips were “rubbish”.

“My daughter’s been to France with the school at the weekend,” she reasoned. “They’ve taken them on trips and they’ve got a school mobile.”

Mr Beeson said the tickets had now been given to students’ families. Teachers had been planning to supervise larger groups – so fewer places are available for pupils like Katie.

“At first she was very laid back, but she is disappointed,” said Ms Jones. “Every time someone mentions the Olympics, she just says, ‘well, I’m not going now’.”