CHILDREN had a close encounter of the third kind when a “spaceship” crash landed behind their school.
Pupils arrived at Lanchester Endowed Parochial Primary, in County Durham, yesterday to find police officers at the gates and a section of the field cordoned off with tape.
Two forensic examiners began combing the crash site for clues about the unexpected visitor, while the children were called into a special assembly where they were told the UFO had appeared during the night.
Lessons were cancelled for the rest of the day and the children were asked to take on the roles of investigative journalists and write reports on the event.
But before any UFO enthusiasts rush to the school, in Front Street, Lanchester, to catch a glimpse of the alien craft, we should point out that the event was elaborately staged by the school’s headteacher, Jane Davis.
Mrs Davis and her staff were keen to encourage the children’s imaginations to help them with their literacy skills.
They wanted the children to write a dramatic story based on something they thought was really happening.
The event also helped to boost the pupils’ communication skills, as they got to question the police and two “witnesses”.
Mrs Davis said: “We wanted to do something that would engage the children, so we had the police – an officer from Northumbria Police and two Community Support Officers – here as the pupils were arriving to create interest.
“The roles of the forensic scientists and witnesses were played out by friends of mine.
“We held an assembly and told the children there had been an incident. There was a lot of excitement, but we were also keen to make sure the experience wasn’t frightening.
“It’s really sparked their imagination. Some of the children told us they’d seen the crash landing, while others said they’d seen an alien.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing their reports and we’re going to display them in the school.”
Year 3 pupil Natasha Johnson, eight, said: “I was really shocked when I was told what had happened.
“One of my friends was quite upset, because she was worried an alien was on the loose and would eat her dog. I’ve never seen anything like it; it’s very exciting.”
Year 4 pupil Oliver Bartle-Smith, nine, said: “During the night I’d heard a big bang, like a gunshot, but it must have been when the spaceship crashed.
“I was closing my curtains when I saw some slights and a dark circular object in the sky. Some people think the alien has escaped and is still in the area.”
PC Gary Densham, who is a parent at the school, gave up his day off to take part in the event and was interviewed by all of the children.
He said: “The older pupils were asking questions about the crash site, like whether it was safe, but the younger children were convinced they’d seen the crash happen. Their imaginations were brilliant.”
The crash site was made from materials from a scrap metal yard and included parts of an old transit van.