AN ARMED response unit was put on stand-by after two pupils were seen brandishing a gun outside a school.

But red-faced school officials had to apologise to police officers after confirming the weapon was a prop for a school filming project.

A local resident called the police after seeing the teenagers carrying the gun in Priory Road, Anfield, outside North Liverpool Academy last Friday.

Pupils and staff were told to remain inside the premises as they went to confront the two gunmen.

An armed response unit was also put on stand-by due to the potential danger of a firearm incident.

But after turning up, officers learned that the two teenagers were holding what they believed was an air pistol being used as part of a film project.

Embarrassed headteacher Kay Askew apologised for the “confusion” and handed the weapon to officers.

A Merseyside police spokesman said officers attended after “reports that two youths were carrying a firearm” at around 10am.

He added: “On arrival it became clear two youths were filming a scene as part of a school exercise.

“Officers spoke with the head teacher of the school, who apologised for the confusion and gave the weapon – thought to be an air pistol – to the officers to dispose of.”

The pistol was not loaded.

It is the not the first controversy to surround the school which opened in 2006 with the aim of driving up education standards.

Last year, more than 50 children turned up late during an inspection from government officials who described attendance as a “serious concern”.

But exam results have soared, with the number of students getting five good GCSEs almost doubling to 79% in 2008.

Mrs Askew was not available for comment.