Ann Maguire killing: Q&A - how should we respond?


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The Independent Online

Q. How violent are schools?

A. The number of exclusions for physical assaults against adults at state-run schools topped 17,000 in England in 2011-12, the most recent figures from a schools census. Another 60,000 were excluded for abuse and threatening behaviour against adults. Incidents against adults – not just teachers – amount to about a quarter of all exclusions. Unions say the figure does not represent the extent of the violence because staff can be encouraged not to report incidents to protect the reputations of their schools. The Health and Safety Executive reported 91 incidents in 2012-13 where teachers had to take at least seven days off work because of physical assaults. It says half of attacks are reported.

Q. How many weapons are found in schools?

A. Almost 1,000 students have been caught with arms ranging from guns to a meat cleaver in schools in the past three years. The findings, from Freedom of Information requests by Sky News, found that the haul included 249 knives and two handguns; 329 pupils were charged with criminal offences. The youngest was an eight-year-old carrying a knife in Scotland. Campaigners said the real figure was likely to be much higher as 21 police forces had not supplied information.


Q. How rare is this kind of murder?

A. Most female victims are killed by partners or other family members, highlighting how rare such a murder – by an acquaintance, in a school, allegedly by a teenager – is among modern crime records. The only comparable incidents were the murder of Gwen Mayor and 16 children at Dunblane in 1996, and headmaster Philip Lawrence outside his school in west London a year earlier.

Q. What powers do teachers have against unruly children?

A. Headteachers have the authority to search pupils without consent for knives, alcohol, pornography and tobacco. They only have need of “reasonable grounds” for suspicion to conduct a search and can use “such force as is reasonable”. They also have the right to utilise airport-style security scanners, which have been used in some schools in London to combat knife crime. If a pupil refuses, they can be barred from the school. Official guidance says that headteachers should consider extra training for their staff to carry out searches.