Truants might win school gate- please vote

THREE regular would-be truants from a West Sussex village school are playing an important part in a national competition.

They are not pupils, but hens called Treasure, Ginger and Brownie who have free range of the grounds at St Mary and St Paul First School in South Harting. After being hatched by the class of oldest pupils, the hens now live at the school '“ but they regularly make bids for greater freedom beyond the playground.

Their escapades were described in the school's entry to win a new school gate worth 2,000 from Cannock Gates Ltd and they earned the school a place in the hotly-contested final, beating off all competition from the southern counties region.

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Now the school has to go up against 10 other primary schools and it's all down to public voting to decide which school will triumph.

Treasure, Ginger and Brownie are cared for by a rota of pupils during term-time and families step in to share the weekend and holiday duties.

Initially the hens' wanderlust meant they slipped through the gates and it even put one of them in harm's way of a passing fox. Luckily she survived with only a few lost tail feathers to show for it. Orange plastic netting serves as a temporary deterrent to further fowl play.

Aside from the Chicken Run incidents, the present gates simply do not do the school justice. They are uninspired in design, fiddly to open and shut, slightly rusting and with awkward range of movement that causes them to drag into the tarmac drive.

To register your vote, log on to www.cannockgates.co.uk. Voting closes at midnight on Tuesday, June 30.