All four Norfolk schools due to go on Kenya trip pull out
PUBLISHED: 17:03 06 June 2014 | UPDATED: 17:03 06 June 2014
All four Norfolk schools due to go on an annual trip to Kenya have pulled out of the visit as officials have issued fresh warnings to travellers.
A party made up of students and teachers from Cliff Park Ormiston Academy in Gorleston, Ormiston Victory Academy in Norwich and Acle Academy was due to leave for Africa later this month.
But after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office updated its advice to travellers this week, following further unrest in the country, all three have made the “difficult” decision to withdraw from the visit.
Flegg High School in Martham, the fourth school involved, pulled out over half term.
A spate of grenade, bomb and armed attacks have rocked Kenya in recent months and in May hundreds of British tourists were evacuated from the country.
Concerns mounted this week following updates from the Foreign Office, which warned further terrorist attacks are likely.
In a joint statement issued today Ormiston Victory and Cliff Park announced they were withdrawing from the trip, which has been running for the last eight years.
Naomi Palmer, principal at Ormiston Victory, said: “It is with deep regret that both Ormiston Victory Academy and Cliff Park Ormiston Academy have withdrawn from the visit to Kenya at the end of this month.
“We have taken this difficult decision in consultation with Ormiston Academies Trust and the Ormiston Trust. The welfare of students must always be our priority and after receiving advice about an increased level of threat in the region, we have taken the decision to pull out.”
Mrs Palmer thanked students and staff for their commitment to the visit, which works with children in Kenya, and their fundraising efforts.
She also thanked organiser Cherry Crowley, a former head at Flegg, for “helping to provide this opportunity for our students” and her “continual hard work in giving young people in Norfolk the chance to help others less fortunate”.
Rob Sherington, principal at Cliff Park, added: “Our students and families have worked tirelessly over the past eight months in preparation for this trip that has made such a significant difference to the lives of young children in our partner schools in Kenya, through the academies engagement with the project over the past six years.
“We are disappointed that events beyond our control have left us with no choice whatsoever.”
Parents, staff and teachers at Acle made the decision to pull out from the trip following a group meeting on Wednesday.
Tim Phillips, headteacher, said it had been an “extremely difficult” decision and although the 12 students who were due to go were “disappointed”, he said they were “proud” of their achievements in preparing for the journey, and committed to working on another project elsewhere in the future.
Mr Phillips said a combination of factors had lead to the decision, including mounting concern among some parents in the wake of the Foreign Office updates.
“That information, the fact that one of the other schools [Flegg] had withdrawn and the coverage in the media, a combination of all of those things meant the group had to face up to a group responsibility and that’s how it happened,” he said.
Mr Phillips praised Mrs Crowley for the way she has developed the Kenya programme.
He added: “The approach of the leaders of this trip, both within the school and wider - essentially Cherry Crowley and her organisation - has been very careful, very considered and very detailed over many, many weeks.
“It’s not the case that we suddenly started thinking about security issues because one parent chose to withdraw. We consider the security issues every step of the way.”
Simon Fox, principal at Flegg High, said 10 children from his school were due to fly out but none of the parents were happy with them going.
He added: “We just supported the parents and allowed them to make the decision. We all judge risk differently.
“The work that Cherry and the others have done with the young people in Kenya is astonishing. That’s the sad bit - the huge value that has been added to the kids’ lives out there.”
The itinerary for the ten-day trip had been changed so the party would not carry out charity work at three primary schools in Nairobi, but instead spend most of their time in the city of Nakuru, north west of the capital.