An eyewitness has recalled the chaotic scene at Martins Wood Primary School following a suspected carbon monoxide leak yesterday, with terrified parents scaling fences to get to their sick children.

One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, was among the many outside the school who were desperate to find out if their children were safe.

Speaking to The Comet, she described the scene as being "like a scene from a movie", with parents attempting to fight their way into the school or climb the fence.

"The scene was chaotic. It was like a scene from a movie. At one point the sky went grey, there was every emergency service there, people crying, dads trying to fight to get in. It was horrible," she said.

"One mum jumped the tall fence to get to her child. There were children leaving the gates with sick bowls and draped in paramedics blankets.

"When all the children were let out a lot were crying because they witnessed their teachers and friends collapsing.

"As a parent I was scared, and the stress just kept increasing seeing children leaving the school, but having zero information about what was going on, how my child was, or why they weren't being let out."

Police, fire and ambulance crews were called to the school in Mildmay Road just after 1pm yesterday (June 12), following reports of a number of children and adults becoming unwell.

One adult and two children were taken to Lister Hospital by ambulance with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, while a further six adults and nine children were assessed at the scene.


The parent also raised serious concerns about the lack of communication from Martins Wood, continuing: "The school made a Facebook post an hour after the incident which didn't explain anything. It wasn't until 5pm that an email was sent out.

"Other parents were turning up to the school at normal pickup time to emergency services in the school and the road closed and they had no idea what was going on.

"When I got home I got more and more frustrated by the lack of communication provided about the safety of my child. They failed all parents on that."

In a letter to parents, executive headteacher Zoe Phillips explained that children were not allowed to leave the site following advice from emergency services.

"We were instructed by the emergency services that no one should leave or enter the site, which is why you were not able to immediately collect your children," she said. 

"I know that this caused a great deal of anxiety and I’d like to thank you again for your understanding during this difficult time. We released the children as soon as we were safely able to do so."

Back in 2022, Martins Wood Primary School was spared entering special measures following an Ofsted inspection, before being forced to join the Ivy Learning Trust.

In documents obtained by the Comet, it was revealed that the education watchdog found serious safeguarding failures, but a good standard of education saw special measures avoided.

The year also saw more controversy, after the school was found to have misled Hertfordshire County Council over their finances, failing to notify them that they had gone overdrawn and needing £129,000 bail-out in March 2021.

After those incidents and the events that took place on Wednesday, the anonymous parent, who is trying to move her child to another school, believes Martins Wood should be "shut down".

"I'm actually taking my children out of the school, because of the Ofsted report and poor communication," she said.

"I think a lot needs to be investigated, because I don't understand how a Facebook post could be made but not an email regarding the safety of our children. I think the school should be shut down."

In a statement to parents today, Ms Phillips said: "Thank you again for your understanding while we dealt with the incident at our school yesterday afternoon.

"Understandably, there has been a great deal of anxiety among our community and I would like to take this opportunity to explain in more detail what happened yesterday.

"We did not choose the communications or procedures that followed and we were guided by the protocols of a major incident.

"This included limiting communications so that parents did not come to school early and only releasing children to go home when we were instructed that it was safe to do so. As you can understand, the safety of the children was the number one priority for everyone."