Weapons checks for schools urged

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The Independent Online

Schoolchildren should be subjected to on-the-spot, airport-style searches to stem the "growing culture of carrying weapons", the second largest teachers' union said yesterday.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) called for zero tolerance of knives and other weapons on school premises.

Eamonn O'Kane, the union's general secretary, called for pilot schemes in which police would conduct searches in a sample of schools to prevent street violence spilling into classrooms and playgrounds.

He said: "Unfortunately, such strategies are necessary now that the increasing use of weapons in crime on the streets is threatening to disturb the relative calm and security of schools."

He was speaking after government officials and union representatives gathered for a joint meeting of the Department for Education and Skills and Home Office School Security Working Party, which was requested by NASUWT. The group was convened after the Dunblane school massacre in 1996, and last met in December.

NASUWT said the group had agreed to investigate the extent of the weapons problem in schools around the country and to report the findings at its next meeting.