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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Pupils miss funeral coverage
Pupils might not see television coverage until they get home
A lack of television sets, rather than any political interference, has meant that many pupils at school did not watch live coverage of the funeral of the Queen Mother.

But many pupils will have stayed at home to watch the events, with some schools allowing children to take the day off.

A third of pupils at Colchester County High School for Girls in Essex stayed away, after being told they could watch television coverage at home or travel to London to see the funeral procession.

Although there had been calls for pupils at school to watch the Queen Mother's funeral service - it is likely that for many classes this proved impractical.

The idea of sitting a hundred children around a television probably would not work.

Andrew Calverley, primary school head teacher

Schools only have a limited number of televisions - and for smaller schools there were difficulties in finding enough space around a television.

There had been claims that some local authorities were challenging the appropriateness of showing the funeral service to children.

Silence, not television

But it seems that the main obstacles to watching were practical - and that many head teachers were not able to provide enough viewing places for pupils.

Steve Drywood, the deputy head of Wheatley Park School, a secondary school in Oxford, said that there were places for pupils to gather for the two-minute silence.

But he described the proposal for pupils to watch events on television as "dreadful".

"We don't have the televisions and aerials in the school," he said.

A primary school head teacher, Andrew Calverley, said that pupils at Park Grove Primary School in York had a special assembly about the Queen Mother, rather than watching the television.


"The idea of sitting a hundred children around a television probably would not work. It's quite a long time to get children to sit together still and quiet when they are in a big group," he said.

"It's a little impractical in a school situation when we are talking about a couple of hours of programmes.

"I'm not convinced of the educational value of just sitting them in front of television, but we will do if we can find suitable edited highlights."

And another primary head, Myron Hrynkow, says that pupils at Askam Village School in Cumbria, did not watch live coverage of the funeral.

As well as concerns that the younger children would not understand, he said that there were plenty of opportunities to find out about the Queen Mother's funeral outside of the school day.

"I'm sure that children will gain enough information from time at home watching television. I don't feel that there's any great need to over-state it."

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