A SCHOOL launched an emergency lockdown after a suspicious 'intruder' was spotted outside.

'Scared' pupils and teachers were said to be huddled under tables for up to an hour at Oxford Spires Academy in East Oxford yesterday, as police were called out to ensure the site was safe.

Several parents have told the Oxford Mail that the intruder was thought to have a knife, prompting the school to activate its emergency procedure.

The school and police have not yet confirmed this. 

Principal Marianne Blake has now commented on the incident - read her full statement here. 

A message sent to parents via the school's ParentMail communications system, at 2.49pm, said: "Lock Down in process.

"We have taken the precaution to lock down the school site this afternoon as we have seen an intruder on the far corner of the school boundary.

"We are expecting the all-clear shortly and we will communicate this to you when lessons commence.

"The lock down procedure went extremely well from both the staff and students' point of view.

"The school is calm and all students and staff are safe.

"More information to follow shortly."

Also read: Bomb threat closes Oxford Spires Academy

One parent posted on Facebook saying she had had a text from a pupil saying she was 'hiding under tables' while another said her daughter was 'very scared' and 'huddled in a corner for an hour.'

The Oxford Times:

Oxford Spires Academy's business centre

Posting on the public Oxford Community page, she added: "No talking, the teacher hiding under her table.

"A deathly silence throughout the school."

Another parent added on the same thread: "Someone suspicious had been seen in the grounds - students [were] kept in classrooms until all-clear given."

One parent, commenting on this article, said: "My daughter goes to this school and I am thankful to the staff for doing this, because you never know what the outcome could have been."

One year ago Oxford Spires was forced to close after it received a bomb threat via email, which turned out to be a hoax.

The Oxford Times:

Police at the school after the bomb hoax last year

The bomb threat came days after a similar email sent to hundreds of schools across the country.

The Oxford Times:

Police at the school after the bomb hoax last year

The popular school in Glanville Road, which teaches 1,087 pupils, has not yet responded to a request for further information. 

Thames Valley Police has also been asked for details of the call-out, but it also yet to respond.

St Gregory the Great Catholic School in East Oxford had to initiate lockdown in June 2017, after a member of the public reported an attack nearby.

READ AGAIN: St Greg's reassures parents after safety lockdown

In September teaching union the NASUWT published national guidance on school lockdown procedures, raising concerns that 'advice given to schools around lockdown procedures is inadequate.'

The guide states: "Schools should have a contingency plan and procedures in place to deal with [lockdown] similar to fire procedures.

"This will most likely require ‘invacuation’ to a safe area...these are places that are safer than staying where you are and safer than immediately evacuating."

Many Oxfordshire schools have taken the initiative to create their own lockdown protocols.

The River Learning Trust, which oversees 20 schools, has a document on its website called 'School Closure Lockdown Emergency Planning.'

Dated April 2017, the document states: "Schools may have unwanted visitors to their school.

"The school should develop a lock down procedure to ensure that, as far as reasonably practicable both employees and pupils are kept safe from harm.

"The lock down procedure should be tested annually to ensure that staff are familiar with the actions they need to take."

Bure Park Primary School in Bicester also has a 'critical incidents and emergency planning policy' on its website. 

Specifically on lockdown procedure, the school's guide notes this will be initiated by 'three short bursts of the fire alarm' and everyone should then stay put.

The procedure adds: "Classroom teachers are to quickly glance outside the room to direct any students or staff members in the hall into your room immediately.

"Lock all external and internal doors [and] lower or close any blinds.

"Place students against the wall, so that the intruder cannot see them looking in the door.

"Look for the a possible ‘safe corner,’ turn out the lights and computer monitors, and keep students quiet."

Oxfordshire County Council has produced emergency procedure guidance specifically for early years settings, such as nurseries.

This says: "Think about the shelter you will provide, e.g. away from windows and doors.

"Think about having ‘grab bags’ which contain non-perishable food, communication devices and chargers, and a copy of your plan.

"Police and the local authority (or governing body/committee) need to be informed that you have locked down, giving your exact location, numbers locked in, means of contact, and any other important information."