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Pupils have ringside view as volcano erupts

PUBLISHED: 16:30 22 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:30 12 August 2010

WITNESS: These  Bishop Justus schoolchildren were just off the coast when the volcano erupted.

WITNESS: These Bishop Justus schoolchildren were just off the coast when the volcano erupted.

STUDENTS had a ringside seat as they watched plumes of volcanic ash billow into the air while on a school excursion to Iceland.

STUDENTS had a ringside seat as they watched plumes of volcanic ash billow into the air while on a school excursion to Iceland.

The youngsters from Bishop Justus School in Magpie Hall Lane, Bromley, could not have asked for a more interactive trip as they watched the awesome volcanic

eruption from a whale watching boat in the Atlantic.

While most Britons have become frustrated with failed attempts to get home, the 21 geography sixth-formers have been relaxing in hot springs, taking excursions around Iceland and doing revision for their A-levels.

The group were due to come home from their field trip to Reykjavik last Saturday and had their flights home cancelled three times. They finally managed to get one to Edinburgh on Tuesday afternoon where a coach was planned to bring them back to Bromley.

Speaking to the Times just before boarding their plane from Iceland, faculty leader and organiser of the trip Ruth Ware said: "The students have been fantastic while facing so much uncertainty.

"There is some degree of anxiety about the flight as we are one of the first to leave since the second plume.

"We could see the volcano from our hotel and when we went whale watching we could see it much

better with all billowing ash. It was quite dramatic.

"Our hotel and tour company have been absolutely fantastic and the local authority have been making sure that we are being well looked after."

Chairman of School Governors, Paul Booth, whose son Isaac is on the trip, said: "I already thought the Iceland trip was a great opportunity for the students and a brilliant enhancement of their geography course. Now with the eruption it's even better as they get ringside seats."

More than 170 teachers across the borough were unable to return home from holidays and school trips in time for the start of term on Tuesday because of the Icelandic drama.

Bromley council had accounted for at least that number but said the figure was 'not a complete picture'. It was unable to confirm how many students are stranded.

Most teachers are expected to make it back sometime this week and a spokesperson for the council said it was "working to assist the schools with financial arrangements and claims."

Meanwhile 30 students from Newstead Wood School for Girls in Avebury Road, Orpington, are stuck in Athens and 20 more are in Spain. Both groups are expected to be back this week.

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