Children cowered under desks and classrooms were plunged into darkness after someone armed with what police believe to be an air weapon fired at offices at King James's School in Almondbury .
The school was placed in lockdown for around an hour as police scoured the grounds to locate the shooter.
Meanwhile anxious parents gathered on the road outside.
The school was sharply criticised by some parents for what they felt was poor communication about the incident. Some took their children out of school after they complained of being frightened by what had happened.
Police were called to reports of criminal damage at the school, on St Helen’s Gate, at around 9.50am. A spokesperson said a window had been damaged in the incident, with initial reports suggesting the damage had been caused by a pellet gun.
In a text to parents the school’s head teacher Ian Rimmer said: “No need for concern, but the school is in lockdown as a safety precaution following an incident. Children are safe in rooms. Please do not contact school.”
Thirty minutes later a further text said: “We continue to follow our lockdown procedure. All children are safe and the police are in attendance.”
However parents who gathered at the school gates were unhappy with the school’s response.
The father of a 15-year-old girl said: “We got a text saying the school was in lockdown and not to try to contact the school.
“We thought it was a drill. Then my daughter started texting. She said there was a teacher wearing a stab vest and carrying a weapon. She said she was under the desk in the darkness.”
Ashley Davies, from Waterloo, whose 13-year-old son is a pupil, said he had received no official notification.
“A neighbour came across the road to me and said the school was in lockdown. I knew nothing about it. There was no text or communication at all.
“When I arrived the road was mayhem. There were 40 or 50 parents outside. They were all quite anxious. They were all talking about taking their children home.
“I heard two rumours: that someone had a gun and someone had a knife.”
Mr Davies said an attempt to speak to staff had been rebuffed.
“I asked whether I needed to take my child home. She said no, that the school was safe. She said, ‘There is no one on the loose’. I asked if they had arrested anyone and she just walked off. They have been quite ignorant with parents.”
Another parent, the mother of an 11-year-old boy, had received text updates from the school but said she was still concerned that someone might be at large. She had decided to take her child home for the remainder of the day.
“A lot of people were worried and didn’t know what was going on. The school have assured people that everything is fine, but I’m just a bit concerned that they are still looking for him.
“My little boy rang me and said he was really scared. His group was in the gym. There were three rings [on the alarm].They were told to sit down and be silent. There were a lot of children in there that are crying.”
Headteacher Ian Rimmer, who came out to reassure parents that the school’s 900 pupils were not in any danger, said a pellet had been fired from the road at an upstairs office window in a staff administration block. He stressed that no children had been affected.
“We took the decision to put the school into lockdown until we could determine what the situation was.
“The police entered and did a sweep of the area and deemed the area safe. All is continuing as normal.
“The lockdown procedure follows Kirklees Council guidance and we have followed training in how to proceed.
“We understand that parents were concerned. The school was entirely locked down so they were not able to gain access.
“It’s a fine line between causing concern and providing reassurance that the situation was being dealt with and their children were safe.
“No children were affected or hurt.”
The school’s official statement said: “There was an incident at school earlier today in which an air rifle pellet was fired at a school office window, breaking it. Thankfully nobody was hurt.
“As personal safety is paramount, we placed the school into lockdown, whilst the police attended the scene and carried out a search of the area. Having completed a sweep of the school and the local area, the site has now been deemed safe by the police and the lockdown has been released. The police will be carrying out further investigations into this incident.
“Thank you for your support in this matter. School will now continue as normal.”
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Police were called to reports of criminal damage at a school on St Helen’s Gate at around 9.50am this morning.
“A window was damaged in the incident, with initial reports suggesting the damage had been caused by a pellet gun.
“Officers are at the scene while initial stage enquiries are being carried out and are liaising with the school. There are no reports of further incidents.”