Can “firing up the imagination” be a bad thing? When you’re young, autistic and, oh, scared shitless by UFOs, I’m afraid the answer is “yes!”
A Sussex primary school has been accused of terrifying pupils after pretending a teacher had been abducted by aliens. The stunt by Southway Junior School in Burgess Hill was intended to promote creative writing skills, reports the Daily Mail. Head Diana Goss told pupils an alien craft had crashed near the school and pupils were encouraged to ‘follow a trail of debris’ before stumbling across the UFO. Sussex Police set up a crime scene around the crashed craft and supplied a police constable and a community support officer for two hours to help the children produce witness statements. Pupils were told that Joy Law, the school’s learning support teacher, who is responsible for special needs pupils, had been abducted.
Parents condemned the school for ‘terrifying’ their children and claimed teachers had gone over the top in trying to ‘fire their imagination’. Linda Molds, whose son Harry, nine, is autistic, said: “Harry will take everything you say literally, so when he was told aliens had taken Mrs Law away and the police were investigating - and then he actually saw the police - he believed every word.”
Lisa Maynard, 34, whose nine-year-old daughter Ashleigh is also a pupil at the school, said: “It was just too realistic, too dramatic. All the police, the sirens, the cordon - it was just too much.” The school has released a statement saying: “The children were reassured throughout the morning that they were perfectly safe. They produced some excellent creative and factual writing.”
Sussex Police said: “The police input was well-intentioned, and it was thought pupils would have a fun day.”