BABIES and parents enjoying swimming lessons had to stand outside in the cold without coats or shoes after a fire drill at school pool.

Swimming lessons were being carried out at Southminster Primary School’s swimming pool on Thursday morning when the fire alarm practice took place.

Parents and youngsters in the pool were asked to evacuate outside and claim they did not have enough time to grab a towel or additional clothing.

Two parents have since complained to the school and the chairman of governors launched an investigation.

Carol-Anne Neall, who was using the pool, said it was “utter stupidity and completely irresponsible”.

She said: “A fire drill was carried out during the children’s swim- ming lessons, pregnant mums and children as young as 12 months old were left outside in swimsuits, wet, barefoot without towels, blankets or coats.

“To have a fire drill in November nowing full well the pool is being used for baby and toddler lessons is utter stupidity and completely irresponsible from someone in a position of trust for safeguarding children.

“This fire drill posed a very real risk to the children with potentially very serious repercussions, at such a young age and being wet, in swimsuits without footwear it would only take minutes for hypothermia to set in.”

A spokesman for Southminster Primary School said the fire drill policy was now being reviewed following the complaints.

He said: “Southminster School’s chairman of governors has inves- tigated the conduct of the fire drill after the school received complaints from two parents whose children were using the pool at the time.

“Evacuation procedures need to be practised at the pool, they must be reasonably realistic, and there would be no time to put on clothing in the event of a real fire.

“The pool staff reassured parents that there was no actual fire on this occasion and minimised disruption by getting everyone back to the pool in about two minutes.

“However, the school’s leadership has been asked to review the policy that blankets are not provided when, as in this case, the pool staff quickly identify that it is a drill and, therefore, the children make a speedy return.”