Pupils miss out on historic torch visit

The Olympic torch celebrations last week were tainted with disappointment for some parents as pupils from Brechin High School missed out on the historic event.

With pupils from both Andover and Maisondieu primary schools out in force to celebrate the once-in-a-lifetime event, parents were dismayed to discover that their children who attend the high school were not allowed go.

The decision, taken in the build up to the torch celebrations, also affected primary seven pupils, who will attend the high school after the summer holidays.

The primary sevens, up on their week visit to the high school, had been learning about the Olympics in the build up to the visit.

But they had to stay in the school whilst the rest of their primary schools were out welcoming the torch to the town.

Parents, who complained to the school, were advised by head teacher, Steve Dempsey, that in order for their children to see the torch, parents would have to take them out of school for the occasion, or they would miss out.

With that option not available to all parents, many were disappointed that their child missed out on the event.

The high school had agreed, along with Montrose and Forfar academies, that only one pupil per form class would be allowed to see the torch go past.

Along with selected representatives, the high school sent along the cast of the school’s production of the ‘Wizard of Oz’, and Gregor O’Neil.

Gregor played the bagpipes on top of the Mechanics Institute whilst the ‘Wizard of Oz’ cast performed a number before the torch relay began.

Several other pupils, who were in Forfar at an Angus wide schools sports event, were able to see the torch as it passed through Forfar.

Mr Dempsey, when pressed by parents as to why their children couldn’t attend, had said the decision was based on the advice of Tayside Police and event organisers.

However a spokesperson for Tayside Police said: “At no time did we say that the pupils were not allowed to go.”

“The school were given practical advice on the matter,” the spokesperson continued. “We are not in a position to make that decision - it would ultimately be the organisers of the relay, the school or the Education department who could reach the decision on whether or not the entire school could go.”

An Angus Council spokesperson confirmed that it was up to individual schools to make their own plans, commenting: “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.”

Mr Dempsey defended his decision saying: “In the interest of safety we decided we would stick with the original plan.”