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Unbelievable School Decisions: Child Stranded in Tree

Sometimes things just happen. A water main breaks; a student falls down the stairs. There have been times at nearly every school when an emergency plan is required. While most schools pour hours of effort into crafting an emergency plan, one school in the U.K. turned the task over to Mother Nature, with nearly disastrous consequences.

Officials at Manor School in Wiltshire, England, instituted a policy of non-interference when a student puts himself or herself into harm's way. That policy was tested when a 5-year-old boy was left alone in a tree for nearly an hour.

The event started when the boy was in the school yard enjoying recess with his classmates. When told it was time to come inside and resume classes, the child indicated that he did not want to go inside and climbed up a tree. Because of the school's policy of non-interference, the child was left alone, 20 feet in the air.

It wasn't until a passerby noticed the child in the tree that he was helped down.

"I was completely shocked when I first saw him because he was sitting on a branch hanging out over the pavement," Kim Barrett, who rescued the boy, told the Daily Mail newspaper. "He was so young. He didn't look frightened but he was completely on his own. There were no teachers or friends in the playground, and the field was empty."

For her compassion, Barrett was reprimanded by school officials, who later reported her to the police for trespassing. Manor School head teacher Beverley Martin confirmed that the school's policy prevents staff going to the aid of children who have climbed trees. The policy's apparent justification is that any rescue attempt may have scared the boy into falling.

"Like other schools whose premises include wooded areas, our policy when a child climbs a tree, is for staff to observe the situation from a distance so the child does not get distracted and fall," Martin told the Mail.

Barrett, however, disputed the claims of observance from a distance, saying "The school says he was being watched but that's impossible because there is no line of sight from the school building to the tree. I am a mother myself, and I find it a bit ridiculous that the school's policy is to leave a child up a tree. I would be very angry if this happened to my child."

Fortunately the child was not harmed and eventually returned to class.

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Other articles in the Unbelievable School Decisions series:

Unbelievable School Decisions: Your Teacher Isn't Really Dead
Unbelievable School Decisions: Student Cage Match
Unbelievable School Decisions: Kids Made to Don Prison Jumpsuits
Unbelievable School Decisions: Baby Bunnies Buried Alive
Unbelievable School Decisions: "Pucker Up" Pep Rally
Unbelievable School Decisions: Cheating Teachers

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor