GCSE pupils moan military planes flying near their school are disturbing their exams


GCSE pupils moan military planes flying near their school are disturbing their exams – but MOD refuses to stop them

  • MoD has refused to stop flying military planes over a school in Wales
  • Teachers at Ysgol Botwnnog said drills would distract pupils sitting exams
  • But military chiefs said stopping them would ‘impact’ national security 

With each passing day that Putin‘s brutal war in Ukraine rages, tensions between Moscow and London remain high and fears of any Russian aggression against Britain steadily climb.

But for teachers at a school in one of the most remote parts of North Wales, RAF training jets preparing for the worst are too loud – and could cause pupils sitting their GCSEs this summer to be distracted.

Military chiefs have refused to stop conducting the drills, claiming that to do so would have a ‘significant impact’ on national security.

The row with the Ministry of Defence began last week, when the headteacher of Ysgol Botwnnog in Gwynedd asked his local MP Liz Saville Roberts to curb the number of military exercises.

Dylan Minnice, the headteacher, had called for planes to avoid exercises around the school for a period of four hours a day for a month, while Year 10 and 11 pupils sat their final GCSEs.

A general view of Ysgol Botwnnog school in Gwynedd, Wales

A general view of Ysgol Botwnnog school in Gwynedd, Wales

Liz Saville Roberts, the Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, took up the issue with the MoD, urging military chiefs to be ‘mindful’ of the impact these operations had on local communities and to ‘enact measures to mitigate disruption where possible’.

But in a flat rebuttal of their pleas, the MoD said that the ‘essential skills’ currently being used each day protecting NATO airspace in the Ukraine crisis could only be maintained through training and practice in a ‘realistic environment’.

A spokesperson said: ‘We are keenly aware of the importance of examinations for students across the country.

‘Unfortunately, restricting military aircraft activity for two months near schools across the whole of the UK would have a significant impact on defence’s ability to train those upon whom we rely for our national security.

‘Training is strictly limited to what is absolutely essential for aircrew to achieve and maintain operational effectiveness.’

Mr Minnice previously said: ‘We understand the importance of RAF exercises, especially with the current situation in Europe.

File image of an RAF Red Arrow in Gloucestershire on September 25, 2018

File image of an RAF Red Arrow in Gloucestershire on September 25, 2018

‘Nevertheless, we do not believe that we are being unreasonable in asking them to avoid exercises around the school for a period of about four hours a day for four weeks while Year 10 and 11 pupils sit their final GCSE exams which will have an impact on their futures.’

Ms Saville Roberts had said: ‘Local students have already experienced several years of disruption to their studies from the Covid pandemic and are now faced with further disruption to crucial examinations due to ongoing military aircraft activity.

‘Teachers and students from Ysgol Botwnnog have voiced their concerns over the ongoing disruption, and it is disappointing that the Ministry of Defence has not been more receptive to their concerns.

‘While the Minister for the Armed Forces maintains that the amount of training is limited to that which is essential, I fear this will provide little comfort to students experiencing disruption to all-important examinations, as well as their hard-working teachers.

‘While I have been encouraged by past meetings with the RAF that steps are being taken to equip the Texan aircraft with the equipment to permit over-sea flying, I remain deeply concerned about the impact on local areas.’

There have been a number of complaints about the noise created by the Texan T1 training aircraft over North Wales.

In Dwyfor’s neighbouring constituency of Arfon, MP Hywel Williams has also regularly raised the issues of plane noise after numerous complaints by constituents.

Earlier this year, the US Air Force also issued an apology for disturbance caused by low flying jets after four jets made ‘low and unscheduled’ flights over north west Wales.

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