British Army parks up deadly Rapier missile system in Portsmouth school's playground for Stem day

EXPLOSIVE shock and awe campaigns are things normally waged during a war '“ not in the playground of a school.

Friday, 25th May 2018, 7:31 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:51 am
Captain Danny Wright with Year 8 pupils (left to right) Isaac Bello (12), Zak Sargant (12) and kneeling Olivia East (13) with Lbdr. Andy Bowman Picture by Malcolm Wells (180524-0054)

But this was exactly what happened when an army unit parked up their £5m missile defence system in a Copnor-based secondary for an education day.

Pupils at Mayfield High School were left ‘gobsmacked’ by the arrival of the state-of-the-art Rapier weapons system.

The hi-tech device – normally used to shoot down aerial threats – was transported into the Mayfield Road school by member of 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, based on Thorney Island.

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It was all part of the school’s science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) week, which is looking to show Year 8 pupils how these subjects can be used to create impressive pieces of tech.

Captain Danny Wright led the event after being approached by the school, where his 16-year-old son, Freddy, is a pupil.

The 42-year-old army officer said: ‘The kids have absolutely loved it. They were saying it was just amazing and fantastic. Some of them couldn’t believe it.

‘To show them all the engineering that goes into a piece of kit like the Rapier FSC has been invaluable because these students are the future engineers who could one day could be building systems like this.’

About 200 children had a chance to see the deadly system in action as well as try their hand at operating it.

The visit was part of Mayfield’s week-long project delving into the Blitz and how Portsmouth was bombed.

Every subject in the school has been devoted to the Blitz, with pupils learning everything from the physics behind creating bomb craters, to using their language and creative writing skills to write stories and translate wartime posters.

Lilly Kirven, 12, of North End, said the week-long project had been eye-opening.

‘I was absolutely gobsmacked,’ she said. ‘I had no idea how much Portsmouth went through during the war. It was as bad as London. It was devastated.’

She said the army visit had been ‘inspiring’, adding: ‘It’s really helped to show that Stem can be used in so much more than building little robots – it can make massive missiles like this.’

Gordon Jackson, Stem co-ordinator at Mayfield, said: ‘The pupils have just been amazed, thoroughly amazed. We’re so grateful for the army coming today. It’s really inspired the pupils.’