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Second exam disrupted by fire alarms at Montrose Academy

An exam at Montrose Academy was disrupted by a fire alarm.
An exam at Montrose Academy was disrupted by a fire alarm.

Another exam was disrupted by fire alarms being set off at Montrose Academy.

The school was evacuated twice on Thursday afternoon – first as senior pupils were about to start their English exam then during the crucial test.

A week earlier a Higher modern studies exam was interrupted by a false fire alarm activation, and the fire service issued a warning about the dangers of such incidents.

The first alarm – believed to have been maliciously activated – sounded at 2.10pm, 20 minutes before the start of the second paper for Advanced Higher English, and the second at 3.05pm, during it.

One frustrated teacher at the school told us that each time there is a fire alarm it takes around 25 minutes to go through the drill – from getting pupils and staff outside to back into class.

Exams anxiety heightened

And they warned that pupils’ anxiety about sitting exams over the next three weeks will be heightened by the worry that their diets could be disrupted.

The teacher said: “These pupils haven’t sat exams before because of the pandemic, so it makes it even harder for them.

“It will definitely affect their concentration if they are going into an exam worrying that this is going to happen again.”

The teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed staff had been asked to monitor fire alarms between classes when pupils were most likely to try to set them off.

Alarms are being set off between periods as pupils are moving between classes.

CCTV footage is being examined to try to trace the culprits, they said, but not all alarms are covered by the cameras.

Most pupils are as fed-up as staff about the repeated false alarms – 10 so far this academic year, they claimed.

“There are 800 pupils here, but all it takes is a handful.”

Several schools in Tayside have been affected by repeated false fire alarms, including Grove Academy and St John’s High School, in Dundee.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it had been called to Montrose Academy at 2.09pm and 3.04pm on Thursday.

A spokesperson said: “Operations control responded immediately to both calls outs by mobilising a fire appliance to the location.

“Firefighters checked the building following the incidents and established that there was no sign of fire or smoke.”

TikTok challenges

After last week’s false fire alarm, the service appealed to parents to speak to their children about the potential impact of malicious fire alarms, amid a “sharp increase” in local schools.

Gary Wood, watch commander of the Angus community action team, said social media challenges, particularly on TikTok, encouraged such incidents.

It’s estimated responding to false alarms costs the service over 64,000 productive hours – worth £3.5 million – each year.

Sending crews, it says, disrupts its training and community fire safety work and diverts firefighters from dealing with genuine emergencies.

Angus Council has been approached for comment.

Exams timetable 2022: Find date for each Nat 5, Higher and Advanced Higher test

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