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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 16:37 GMT
Sandringham shooting upsets pupils
Dead pheasant
The children saw the pheasant being shot during their morning break
Staff at the Queen's Sandringham estate have apologised after schoolchildren became distressed at the sight of pheasants being killed.

The head teacher and pupils at St George's Middle School at Dersingham, Norfolk, complained after a shooting party killed birds on a field next to the school on Friday.

More than 200 children, some as young as eight, are understood to have seen the birds being killed during morning break.

Teachers said many were distressed and the school had written to officials at Sandringham to complain.

Shooting is a rural sport and has been going on on this estate for over 100 years
Sandringham spokesman
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are spending the last weeks of their Christmas break on the estate.

The school, which is on the Royal Sandringham estate, was built on land donated by George VI in the 1930s.

A Sandringham spokesman apologised and said shooting would not take place on land near the school during break times again.

"Shooting is a rural sport and has been going on on this estate for over 100 years," he said.

"Shooting has been taking place on the land near the school ever since George VI gave the land for the school to be built in the 1930s.

"I have been in touch with the headmistress to find out what happened and the estate is sorry if any of the children were distressed.

"We have agreed to accede to the request of the headmistress to avoid shooting during school break times."

It is not known whether any members of the Royal Family were in the shooting party which upset the children on Friday.

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23 Jul 03  |  Norfolk

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