Parents of Kings Norton Primary School children have expressed outrage after year three pupils were photographed firing plastic machine guns at fake targets and trying on police riot gear.
The controversial photographs were taken at a firearms training facility during an event entitled ‘Ready, aim, smile!’ and showed the children laughing as they brandished toy weapons.
Pupils also had the opportunity to take a look inside a police car and were able to chat directly with officers about their jobs.
The kids had been asking questions after noticing more armed police on patrol after the Manchester and London terror attacks and had previously written letters of support to officers, thanking them for their brave service.
Parents had been notified that their children were going to visit an armed response team with West Midlands Police and had given their prior written consent.
The purpose of the event was to teach kids about the work of the police in ensuring public safety, helping them to gain confidence and trust in the force.
After the event, a number of the attending children expressed an ambition to join the police, having gained a positive view of the force.
However, some parents believe that the way in which the children were taught about terrorism and weapons was inappropriate, inadvertently ‘glamourising’ guns and treating the act of shooting a terrorist as a game.
The misguided title of ‘Ready, aim, smile!’ has also received criticism for its jarringly cheery tone.
One parent has commented that children should be taught about terrorism in the same serious manner they are introduced to the topics of road safety and stranger danger.
Kings Norton School’s Headteacher, Mike Tromans, has made the following statement:
The children were given plastic guns to show what a part of policing is sadly about. Sometimes they sadly have to use firearms. I don’t think this is glamorising guns.
I totally hate guns and I think we are lucky to live in a country where we don’t have full time armed police on the streets.
With such a sensitive topic, it is often difficult to judge how to open up a discussion with very young individuals and there needs to be good communication between parents and teachers when establishing clear boundaries.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.