Jewish school pupils describe being trained to hide under their desks and 'play sleeping lions' in event of Paris-style terror attack

'Sometimes it is scary because you're not really sure if it's real or not'

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The Independent Online

As ministers issued warnings about the “deeply troubling” rise of anti-semitism in modern Britain, Jewish primary school pupils are being drilled on what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Children aged 10 and 11 in north London described how they are being trained to play “sleeping lions” when an alarm sounds, hiding under their desks in a practice that is reminiscent of Second World War air raid protocols.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said yesterday at a meeting of the Board of Deputies of British Jews that she “never thought [she’d] see the day” when Jewish people would be “fearful” of staying in the UK.

Mr Miliband held a public “question time” in northwest London’s Mill Hill, where there is a sizeable Jewish population. He said: “There is a palpable sense of anxiety in the community, that is deeply, deeply troubling.”

Speaking this morning to the BBC’s Today programme, one pupil in north London said he was fully aware of the concerns around a repeat of the attacks that killed 17 in France two weeks ago.

“Sometimes I’m very worried about the current situation because after happening to Paris it could happen to England,” he said.

Another explained the new protocols: “When the alarm goes off we do a thing called sleeping lions. We all go under our desks or chairs and cover our heads with our hands.”

Their school already had a high wall, permanent security guard and 24-hour CCTV before the drills were introduced, but its headteacher told Today he felt this simply wasn’t enough.

“Sometimes it is [scary] because you’re not really sure if it’s real or not,” one boy said.

“You always feel like you have to pretend like it's a real situation and be as silent as possible even though you probably know that there's no one there,” said another. “It's still really important because you know that you are Jewish and lots of people don't really respect that.”