Ann Maguire killing: Metal detectors are not the solution, claims head teacher

Pupils should not be required to pass through metal detectors before being allowed into lessons, the head of the school where a teacher was stabbed to death has said, as the debate over classroom safety intensified.

Ann Maguire, 61, would not have wanted the US-style knife arches introduced at Corpus Christi College in Leeds where she was killed on Monday morning, while helping pupils with their Spanish GCSE preparations, the principal claimed.

Speaking for the first time since the tragedy, head teacher Steve Mort said the school was a “safe environment” and that the killing – allegedly the first by a pupil in a British classroom in modern times - was “unprecedented”.

He said the strongly Christian college, which opened as usual yesterday, would not seal itself off from the wider world as a result of the death of the popular teacher who had just a few weeks to go before she retired after 40 years of devoted service.

“We're a very open community and our doors are open to the local community,” Mr Mort said.

"And I think ultimately Ann Maguire herself, if she was asked that question, would strongly oppose any suggestion that we should have metal detectors in this school.”

West Yorkshire Police were tonight continuing to question a 15-year-old pupil from the school on suspicion of murder.

 

Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Simon Beldon said the process could be a lengthy one.

“Given his young age, this is a process which needs to be handled very sensitively, and may take some time to complete,” he said.

It emerged that Corpus Christi’s dedicated community police officer – part of a citywide initiative to prevent crime - had been attending at a partner school when the attack took place.

But there had been no history of violence or record of weapons being brought into the school.

Chief Inspector Nik Adams, who leads neighbourhood policing in the area, said: "This is very much an isolated incident. This is not part of a wider problem that exists locally here.”

Fellow pupils have described the teenager in custody as a bright but withdrawn youth who may have had a grudge against Mrs Maguire after she gave him a detention.

According to some reports she was stabbed repeatedly in the back as she helped another pupil struggling with a question. The attack was witnessed by around 30 students.

Another female Spanish teacher went to her colleague’s aid, it was claimed. A post mortem examination revealed Mrs Maguire, a mother of two daughters, one of whom is an acclaimed dancer with the Royal Ballet, died from multiple stab wounds.

Her family were said to be devastated by her death.

Children at the school meanwhile were offered counselling as they sought to come to terms with the tragedy.

Among those to pay tribute was Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales. “My heart goes out to her husband and daughters, to their wider family, to everyone at Corpus Christi Catholic College and to the parishes connected to the college,” he said.

The teaching profession was continuing to try to put the violent death of a highly respected and deeply popular colleague into perspective. 

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said introducing knife arches and security guards in schools would be counterproductive. In schools in the US where these measures had been introduced, she said, violence had actually increased.

“The US experience shows us that is not the answer, what is the answer is creating - and the vast majority of schools achieve this - orderly communities where everyone is clear about the expectations and responsibilities of being a member of a school community and that this is rigorously enforced by senior leaders,” she said.

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