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

PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 February 2012 | UPDATED: 11:20 23 February 2012

The West Norfolk Fox Hounds Asscociation getting ready for the Boxing Day Hunt, starting from Fakenham Race Course. Picture Matthew Usher.

The West Norfolk Fox Hounds Asscociation getting ready for the Boxing Day Hunt, starting from Fakenham Race Course. Picture Matthew Usher.

Archant © 2011 01603 772434

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.”

36 comments

  • I just wish that people would understand that people don't hunt to kill! I certainly don't, and I think if the only reason people went out hunting was to kill the animal for fun, I too would oppose it. When the animal is caught, it nearly always happens out of sight and is very quick. And please, don't call it a blood sport- blood sports are like bull fighting and bear baiting, where it is all about the animal being killed, and where the animal has zero chance of escape.

    Report this comment

    David

    Friday, February 24, 2012

  • I think any parent that would leave their child go on a hunt as a school trip is gone in the head. They're especially stupid by voicing the opinion of the Countryside Alliance that it is a part of great rural life.. I spent a good part of my life in the countryside and there were never any meets or hunts in the village where I stayed. To have children witness a hunt or be a part of a meet is nonsense, what parent would have their child go to a blood sport which is exactly what hunting is. Someone said that it isn't a blood sport because its not a situation where the animal has no escape. I disagree. I think any sport that endangers the life of an animal where there is a high chance that the animal's life will end in death by running till hounds get it or being shot is a blood sport, it's just a different arena. I don't believe that teaching the children about the "real" countryside is paramount to their learning. If the school spent more time teaching students real subjects rather than heading to a hunt to let children witness cruelty than this article wouldn't have existed.

    Report this comment

    Ali Keane

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • The comments from the sad minority who are supporting this unfortunate decision to take minors to see barbaric acts use the same, tired old adjectives such as 'predjudice', 'country traditions', don't understand country ways', etc etc. Shows the arrogance that is apparent by the hunts and their ilk. They ignore the law of the land and think they speak for the countryside yet they speak for a sad minority who get pleasure from cruelty. Hunting is a dirty business which shows the worst of mankind. A poster above states' hunting is a common, popular rural activity', so was watching beheadings at one time, most civilised people have moved on, To those who condone this I say 'get a conscience', This school should be closed down, the head should be sacked for trying to manipulate young minds. As said above, if those who condone hunting think it is good for kids to see it, let them see it all, badgers setts being illegally blocked to prevent fox escape, foxes in sacks which have been left there until they are so weak they are then released to the pack, etc etc. Hounds shot if nor performing then thrownin a skip, they are full of worms anyway and only get fallen stock to eat. Don't be afraid to be honest hunters and co, let the world know what you are really about, just the thing for children to see the TRUE REALITY of 'traditions of rural life'!!

    Report this comment

    kateg

    Sunday, February 26, 2012

  • I am completely disgusted with this school trying to brainwash the children with this cruel and barbaric activity. These hunts are often out of control and have been known to terrorise pets and other animals. These people should be banned from roaming the countryside at will and go back to the dark ages where they belong. I live in a local village and I would not recommend this school to anyone. We shoul be protecting our remaining wildlife not shooting and hunting it.

    Report this comment

    Aguila Pescadora

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • Would you also advocate taking 6- 10 year olds to slaughter houses,factory farms, vivisection labs, fur farms? In fact all the country life as you call it- a mere excuse for cruelty and for running around the countryside chasing an animal who has no defence against a pack of yowling dogs. Take the children to the kennels to educate them & play with the dogs? Who are you kidding?Also take them along when you put a bullet in the heads of the dogs at age 5 or 6 when they are no longer good for your hunt- the pastime of a few moronic people who like to dress up & pretend they are doing the farmers a favour!And what about the rights of those who are completely averse to your blood thirsty form of entertainment! teach children compassion, not how to mutilate a healthy living animal!

    Report this comment

    Meher Toorkey

    Friday, February 24, 2012

  • Hunting is a rural activity, enjoyed by many (which I understand), it is something that is down to "personal or family choice". My argument was, should it be brought into primary schools? You will find I was not the only parent who expressed their feelings against this, I just stood by what I believe is right. As for comments around, going hunting to learn what it is about? Strangely enough some people can grasp what things are like without actually needing to do them. If you want your child to go hunting take them? Finally, there is a very fundamental flaw in the letter sent to the paper about me, I never threatened the school.

    Report this comment

    opinion

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

  • Go Mr Poolman! You are not the only objector on this issue. You are voicing the view of the majority. Where will this school take their students to next? Day trip to Harling Farm in Norfolk perhaps?

    Report this comment

    stevemisog

    Friday, February 24, 2012

  • I see Mr Poolman has been voicing his blinkered opinion again and this time going to an all time low by threatening to bring in anti-hunt sabs.The sooner he realises that rural communities still like to keep with tradition the better.If he dont like rural life then he has a choice-move to a city.Sorry to say it,but he's a typical townie.

    Report this comment

    Zeb

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

  • Just wondering what would upset the kids more -seeing a country tradition or watching anti-hunt protesters protest outside the school!!!! may i suggest that our Mr Poolman looks for a town school so that my children may enjoy the country activites the school is arranging.

    Report this comment

    parsonk2001

    Friday, February 24, 2012

  • Tradition is not a valid reason to kill animals for sport, whats wrong with you people... If it was just about controlling numbers they would be trapped and killed humanely(still not acceptable) We are encroaching on their habitat not vice versa!!! No i'm not an anti hunt sab, god knows i wish i had the time to stop hunting! words escape me, so sad...

    Report this comment

    pjg

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

  • My son attends this school and it is fantastic the staff are always looking at ways to encourage the children. Was there really the need to advertise this to the Hunts Post when i am sure the "concerned" parent could have just ticked the i dont want to go box!! what a waste of time. The hunts post should concentrate on real news in the community and not publish things that could darken a brillant "village "schools reputation.

    Report this comment

    parsonk2001

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

  • Traditionrural industry is no excuse for what is inescapably a sadistic and cruel practice. How old is the fox hunting tradition anyway, 300-400 years. It wont be missed. It was a mistake to begin with and needs to kept illegal. Britain has moved on and the school is misguided here despite I am sure being well meaning.

    Report this comment

    Benjamin Davy

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • David doesn't hunt to kill,.. the killing takes place out of sight? It's still killing, the fox has very little chance and do we really want to teach young children that killing is OK? Isn't there enough violence in the world already? If parents want to take their children to a hunt that's up to them, it's not the job of the school to introduce them to this cruel and unnecessary 'sport'. As a teacher, I am disgusted by the school's insensitive attitude to its children's sensibilities. And I'm not a 'townie', I'm the daughter and grand-daughter of farmers.

    Report this comment

    Jackie

    Friday, February 24, 2012

  • what do you do when your pet is so ill or old there is no other option than to put it down. what do you then tell your child the angels came for it.putting hounds down is quicker and more humane than all the ritual or halaal slaughter of animals that goes on . i dont see you moaning about that. the sooner kids know about real life the better.

    Report this comment

    Russell Lomas

    Monday, February 27, 2012

  • Firstly, if the pro-hunt people on this page could perhaps refrain from using every fallacious argument they can think of, that would be a refreshing change. You do all realise that ad hominum attacks and appeal to tradition are both completely unacceptable lines of reasoning and do not a valid point make, yes? As a life-long resident of the countryside myself, I have to say that both this school and The Countryside Alliance sicken me. I don't have any children in this school, but I would have happily protested outside it's doors had this school trip gone ahead. Any human being that takes pleasure in ending the life of another living thing for 'fun' or 'sport' is a horrid creature indeed, unworthy of any respect, let alone admiration. I would never wish my children to learn about these barbaric practices or allow them to socialise with these cretins. I loudly applaud the parents that took a stand!

    Report this comment

    DonnaPenn

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • The press were involved by the parent who sent them the letter.

    Report this comment

    opinion

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • Would you also advocate taking 6- 10 year olds to slaughter houses,factory farms, vivisection labs, fur farms? In fact all the country life as you call it- a mere excuse for cruelty and for running around the countryside chasing an animal who has no defence against a pack of yowling dogs. Take the children to the kennels to educate them & play with the dogs? Who are you kidding?Also take them along when you put a bullet in the heads of the dogs at age 5 or 6 when they are no longer good for your hunt- the pastime of a few moronic people who like to dress up & pretend they are doing the farmers a favour!And what about the rights of those who are completely averse to your blood thirsty form of entertainment! teach children compassion, not how to mutilate a healthy living animal!

    Report this comment

    Meher Toorkey

    Friday, February 24, 2012

  • I am completely disgusted with this school trying to brainwash the children with this cruel and barbaric activity. These hunts are often out of control and have been known to terrorise pets and other animals. These people should be banned from roaming the countryside at will and go back to the dark ages where they belong. I live in a local village and I would not recommend this school to anyone. We shoul be protecting our remaining wildlife not shooting and hunting it.

    Report this comment

    Aguila Pescadora

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • HELLO....IS ANYONE THERE? I TAUGHT PRIMARY FOR 40 YEARS. IN SCIENCE WE MAKE A POINT, AS WE SHOULD, OF A GENERAL "RESPECT FOR LIFE". BRINGING CHILDREN TO OBSERVE ANIMALS BEING TORN APART, TORTUREDKILLED IS MIND BLOWING. SHAME ON THE SCHOOL DISTRICT. PRAISE THE OBJECTING MOM!!!

    Report this comment

    Christine Ehlers

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • The parents involved rights were respected they could have simply opted there children out of the class trip for goodness sake!! i think you are missing the point - there was no need for this article at all - the school does SO MUCH for its pupils in everyway possible - why spoil the reputation when all the parent had to do is say they did not want there child to go - all parents that would have liked there children to have gone could have ticked yes - therefore everyone happy - if the person who reported this whole thing is that unhappy with the school pick another school.

    Report this comment

    parsonk2001

    Friday, February 24, 2012

  • Putting a pet down humanely is completely different from shooting a hound that is no longer deemed able to participate in a cruel and barbaric activity. The fact is these young children should not be exposed to an activity that should not be allowed in the first place. This school should be closed and the incidents investigated fully. If we want to stamp out cruelty and the mistreatment of animals we should be teaching them about protection and conservation not death and destruction.

    Report this comment

    Aguila Pescadora

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

  • Normalising animl abuse in this way by taking children along for a jolly day out is completely wrong, of course it is ....and well don to the parents who stood up for their beliefs.One of Britains 'oldest and finest traditions' .....dont make me laugh. The antiquity of a practice cannot and never has, in itself, justified that practice. The majority dont like hunting so why unnecessarily traumatise kids like this. If they want to see some horses they can do that at their local riding stables. Get over yourselves CA....the times they are a changing !!!

    Report this comment

    jaybee

    Friday, February 24, 2012

  • Hmmm Townie? The thing is being a townie living in this area is great because it's only 15 minutes from a city. (not lost in time rural) so I can get a nice deep breath of smog when I feel the need. As for not letting my child go, you may find those who do not wish to take part feel predjudice and others attend because they dont want to be singled out. So why create barriers for young children with such minority activities? Just for the record for others parents at the school, I never went to the press with this, it was discussed with the school and local authority who through debate (something townie's do) a decision was made to stop the trip.

    Report this comment

    opinion

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • Question directed to Aguila Pescadora. I do hope you're a vegeterian because if you're gonna raise the cruelty flag then you really ought to look at the farming world first. I cannot believe people are so emotional about foxes,but i guess its because they're cute and fluffy.I would bet a months wages that if the prey were rats then all the townies on here would be suggesting poison,trapping,burning,hanging,firing squad etc etc! :)

    Report this comment

    Zeb

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

  • GOOD for Mr. Poolman and the other SMART and compassionate parents that would rather start a NEW tradition - COMPASSION. Seems that all the activities in the country revolve around killing.

    Report this comment

    SLM

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • There is every need for this story to be printed and for members of the public far and wide to know that Schools such as this one find it acceptable to take children to partake in such barbarity. The parents that objected were absolutely right to do so and the School should be ashamed of itself. My son is 17 now and I know that had he been subjected to such a scene as a duck being killed or a hunt killing a fox he would have been devastated as he has compassion, empathy and all those things any decent human being has instilled in them. Luckily I don't know of any School that would even consider such a trip or think they would get away with it without a public outcry! Those that get a perverse pleasure out of brutally killing another living being are clearly devoid of some of the most important qualities a person can possess. And no I’m not a townie, I grew up in the countryside surrounded by beautiful creatures on our land and in the wild and not once in my 33 years on this planet have I ever thought it would be acceptable to go onto another creature’s territory and take its life!

    Report this comment

    kmbt

    Friday, February 24, 2012

  • I have written a letter to the head of this school objecting to the sending of young children on such barbaric outings. Personally I think the school should be closed pending an investigation. There are a lot more educational trips that the children could be sent on preferable to do with protecting animals rather than killing them. I shudder to think what the next trip could be. Witch burning perhaps?

    Report this comment

    Aguila Pescadora

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • What exactly does the Poolman family have against this school? I believe it was they that also kicked up a fuss about the wildfowling trip. The school should be commended for allowing the children to access the facts of a matter and make an informed decision on controversial issues.

    Report this comment

    Claire Wright

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

  • Thank goodness I don't live in Huntingdonshire! However, I do live in North Devon where there are a lot of 'Country Folk' and they do not support hunting at all Why pro hunt people accuse everyone against hunting of being a 'Townie' who doesn't understand is beyond me. I doubt very much if Mr Poolman wishes to be educated about hunting as he would no doubt find it even more sickening that he thinks. Does he wish to know about the practise of cubbing? “One aspect of fox hunting rarely mentioned is 'cubbing' which is used to train the foxhounds. Because the hounds have no natural instinct to kill foxes, they have to be trained by being taken out from August to October with older dogs and set onto young fox cubs. A small wood is surrounded by hunters on horseback and on foot, and the hounds are sent in to attack the cubs. Meets are held early in the morning and the field are present to help "hold up" covert foxes (i.e. prevent a fox from leaving the area). If a young fox tries to escape, the hunters slap their saddles and shout to terrify the animal back to the hounds”. Clifford Pellow, a professional huntsman for 20 years, declared: 'Cub hunting is a barbaric, hideous business in which the victims are still completely and utterly inexperienced and dependent on their mothers'. No point hunters trying to deny this happens when an ex huntsman states it does. They now refer to it as Autumn Hunting as it sounds less barbaric. As for David claiming that people do not hunt to kill then why do they not just go Drag Hunting instead? As for claiming that foxes need to be controlled the fox was hunted to extinction in the 18th century. They were then imported from France and Germany to re populate the UK by the hunts so that they could continue their sports. I trust the school teaches their pupils the above. I admire Mr Poolman for standing up for his beliefs despite the animosity he will now have to endure.

    Report this comment

    Salza

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • How stupid! Hunting is a common, popular rural activity whether you like it or not, so people should find out about what it is really like. How can people oppose something that they are ignorant about? The only way to find out whether you agree or disagree with it is by finding out about it! And 'health and safety risks'? Really what rubbish this Mr. Poolman talks. He obviously needs educating about hunting himself.

    Report this comment

    David

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

  • This school is a disgrace fox hunting is cruel and outdated all hunting should be banned. The people involved in hunting are blood thirsty cowards. The head teacher obviously has a agenda to brainwash innocent children into thinking blood sports are acceptable. Well done on the parents who complained.

    Report this comment

    stenic

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • David me thinks you are incredibly thick or just deluded, don't go hunting to kill i am roling around the floor laughing!

    Report this comment

    Paula Howarth

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • If people dont want their children participating on trips like these they have a simple choice-dont let them.Its their choice afterall,but some parents do want their children to have a better understanding of rural life.I hope the school dont take any more nonsense from a minority of townies who have no concept of what goes on in a rural community.

    Report this comment

    Zeb

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

  • Schools should be teaching children about caring for and protecting animals not taking them to watch a hunt. Is the head a member of the pro blood sports Countryside Alliance? I certainly wouldn't want my child being taught at this school.

    Report this comment

    Denise

    Friday, February 24, 2012

  • Well done Mr Poolman and any other parent who took a stance on animal cruelty. Killing animals for 'sport' should not be supported or endorsed in a school environment. Shame on parents who encourage their children to be indifferent to the suffering involved in hunting.

    Report this comment

    den

    Friday, February 24, 2012

  • Well done Mr Poolman and any other parent who took a stance on animal cruelty. Killing animals for 'sport' should not be supported or endorsed in a school environment. Shame on parents who encourage their children to be indifferent to the suffering involved in hunting.

    Report this comment

    den

    Friday, February 24, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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