THE 'tragic' death of a young pupil has struck the heart of a school community in Didcot.

St Birinus School sent a letter to parents on Tuesday morning breaking news of the death of a Year 9 pupil.

Parents at nearby Didcot Girls' School, which shares a sixth form with St Birinus, have also been told and students are being supported by staff as they comprehend the loss.

In the letter, Didcot Girls' headteacher Tom Goodenough wrote: "It is with great sadness that I am contacting you to inform you of the tragic death of a Year 9 student from St Birinus School.

"We have informed all students this morning, and we will ensure they are offered support and advice on dealing with such tragic events though our pastoral support systems."

Few details have been released about the identity of the pupil or the circumstances of his death.

Year 9 pupils are usually aged between 13 and 14 years old.

Mr Goodenough's letter advised pupils not to use social media to speculate on what had happened.

A joint statement released by the school and Oxfordshire County Council late this afternoon added: "The whole school community is shocked and saddened by this terrible news and our thoughts are with the student’s family and friends at this difficult time. 

"Support has been offered to students, staff and anyone else from the school community affected. 

"We have set up a memorial book at the school for students to be able to record memories, insert photographs and pass on condolences. 

"We ask for the family’s privacy to be respected at this difficult time."

The school was open as usual today and students were advised that staff are on hand to speak to them should they need to talk.

St Birinus in Mereland Road is the only all boys' state school in Oxfordshire and teaches 914 pupils.

A parent of a student in Year 9 said she called the school after receiving the letter, but had not been given any more information.