Parent pressure forces school to abandon plans to take children on fox hunt

A HUNTINGDONSHIRE primary school is at the centre of another controversy just three months after taking youngsters on a trip to see a duck shoot.

Just three months after taking pupils to watch wildfowling – including a duck being shot – Ashbeach School, in Ramsey St Mary’s had planned to take Year 6 children, aged 10 and 11, to watch a hunt.

The trip was scheduled for February 7 at Ellington, and a letter had been sent to parents of Year 6 pupils, but it was cancelled following complaints.

Elaine Knighton, whose 10-year-old niece attends the school, said the letter failed to mention the word “fox”, just as the wildfowling trip letter failed to mention the words “duck shoot”.

She said it was only after her brother, Ray Poolman, researched the details of the trip – which mentioned horse, hounds and an eagle – that they realised what the school had in mind.

Mrs Knighton, 40, of Ramsey Heights, said the hunt would have involved two hounds trying to flush out a fox and, should one have been found, the eagle would have been used to kill the animal.

The method of hunting foxes is allowed within the 2004 Hunting Act and the school’s letter made it clear children would not follow the hunt, which was to start at Ellington, but would watch it leave and would sometimes be able to see it in the distance.

However, the idea of taking children to a hunt upset some parents.

Mr Poolman, 49, of Ramsey Heights, said: “I asked headteacher Shirley Stapleton if she really wanted her school to be seen as pro-hunting, not to mention all the health and safety risks associated with it.

“I don’t think it is right. Children and staff sitting having their sandwiches and fizzy drinks while the hunt sets off.”

But not all Ashbeach School parents agreed.

One parent sent a letter to The Hunts Post which stated: “The school, which is fantastic, did arrange to take older children on another trip to a hunt. However, this has now had to be cancelled as the same parent who complained before has threatened that if the school took pupils on the trip he would turn up with anti-hunt demonstrators.

“This has resulted in a lot of upset children and some very angry parents who agreed with these trips.”

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: “There had been some previous discussions about going on outside activity trips, and it has been decided not to organise any such trips at this time.”

In November, a group of 10-year-old Ashbeach children were taken to Welney Marshes to watch members of the Ely & District Wildfowlers Association shooting ducks. The school said the trip was to show about children normal rural life.

William Burton, Eastern regional director for the Countryside Alliance, said: “It is a real shame that just because of one parent’s prejudices, children at Ashbeach School have been prevented from watching one of the British countryside’s oldest and finest traditions.

“As the school has said, children would not have been going out with the hunt but instead would have been able to take in the great atmosphere at a meet, and get up close with some of the beautiful horses and hounds that form the hunt.

“We would encourage more schools to do as Ashbeach intended and take children along to fine rural occasions like hunts and shoots, so that they can learn first-hand how the countryside really works, rather than the picture-book version some people would prefer they saw.

“Schools can always get in touch with their local hunt to arrange a kennel visit. These sort of experiences will do much to enrich any child’s education.”



12 Replies to “Parent pressure forces school to abandon plans to take children on fox hunt”

  1. This is truly disgracefull and why was there not any outrage re the shooting??????To take children to see this barbaric cruelty is just shocking and words almost fail me. Good job this did not happen when I was as school, all hell would be let loose if it had. This outdated practice of hunting and shooting should be banned to the history books, I wonder what the children thought about it all. For any NORMAL child this would have been extremly upsetting. This School is a disgrace and all involved in this should be repremanded, personally I would like to see them sacked.

  2. Willam Burton would of course love it if animal torture were ‘normalised’ by having children attend Hunts. Catch them young and all that. Thank goodness though, at least one parent was brave enough to raise objections.
    Calling this one of Britains oldest and finest traditions is simply more desperate propoganda from the CA idiots and it frankly is beyond me how any of their comments get printed, they are so skewed.
    If kids want to see ‘fine’ horses they can always go down their local riding school. Go crawl back in your hole Burton.

  3. This was one parent denying every other childs right to learn how the countryside really works, and that parent had to use threat to do this. I work within the countryside as a teacher of Environmental Education, I am appalled to hear that this forward thinking school has been sensored in this manner. We have children from all walks of life attending our outdoor lessons, and I am often shocked at the lack of understanding they have about how areas of our country work. To be able to become an effective environmentalist, you must understand how you can manage all types of country life. The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of people that bleat on about these sports being nothing more than blood lust, are the ones that do the least to keep our countryside as dynamic and diverse as it is. The real conservation work being done is done done by the people that live and work in the countryside, they after all have the most to loose if the investment into the countryside through the industries that exsist there were to dry up. If all these businesses were to disappear, who would run the countryside then? Children need to understand our country from top to bottom, and that involves learning about these sports as well as the environmental aspect too. I dont shoot, butknow many people who do, and thier commitment to the stunning areas of Scotland that I am fortunate enough to work in, is what keeps it stunning.
    Teach the children, because who will manage it when we are gone?

    1. As someone who has lived in the Country all of their life I fully understand what goes on there. Yes,conservation does go on but only inasmuch as it affects a particular individual’s own specific interest. (profits) Wildlife which might predate pheasants or grouse for instance will be ‘eliminated’ and transversely in fox hunting, earths will be visited and cubs fed in preparation for Hunting them later on.
      Add the use of chemicals, indiscriminate setting of traps of various kinds, routine killing or any animal which is viewed as some kind of threat to a person’s livelihood and I dont really think you could describe ‘conventional’ farming as environmentally sound either.
      So please dont accuse anyone who speaks out against hunting/shooting as simply ignorant of the facts of ‘how the countryside works’. Many of us are completely aware including an increasing number of farmers, who dont want foxhunters on their land.
      Yes lets teach our children how to look after the land for when we are gone, but lets show them how to do so with compassion and how to work with Nature instead of against it

  4. I have tried to phone this Shirley Stapleton to tell her what I think of her but no reply, I shall keep trying. If anybody would like to write or phone this disgusting School address is Shirely Stapleton (Head Teacher) Ashbeach School, Ashbeach Drove, Ramsey St Mary, Ramsey, Huntingdon, PE26 2YG Telephone no 01733 844262. I am also writing to this woman. I think she should be sacked from her position as she has upset all these children she is not fit for the job.

  5. William Burton go and stick your head in a gas oven and turn it on full, you reallly are a pathetic evil bastard. Oldest and finest traditions oh please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!What gives you the right to MURDER wild life you people are really very sick dangerous evil and pathetic, what next turn on your children??????????????????????????????????????????????????Be warned what goes around comes around and one day you will suffer for all the murdered animals you and scum like you take part in.

  6. how if i put your address on here and everywhere else. your threats are all talk as we have seen you sabs break world speed record when it comes on top then use your enemy the police to protect you

  7. Sabs ? Threats? Feeling a bit defensive then Anne. By the way, how are you planning to find out peoples addresses and who are you anyway. This is, in case you had’nt noticed, an open forum. so stop trying to wind people up, its so childish.

    1. Hmm, that’s known as corruption in any language. Just try it and see what happens ! I realise you people think you are above the law but actually you are’nt.

  8. and neither are you filming children spouting rubbish turning things round to suit your ideas. bored of you now good bye happy hunting

  9. Just had another look at this again, and what a load of tosh coming from this person Anne, this is so typical of these sort of people, when they feel threatened they turn nasty just so so immature. Just for your info Anne I have friends in very high places so less of your childish threats you are just a joke as are all your type. Good night.

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