Oliver Duff

i Editor's Letter: After the terrible murder of Ann Maguire, what can be done to protect teachers from violence?

 

Share

 

Anne Maguire, a secondary school head-of-year in Leeds, is the first teacher to be killed in a British classroom, stabbed to death in front of her pupils by a 15-year-old boy. He was tackled by other teachers and is in police custody. We do not name him in today’s i, in line with other newspapers, although his identity was available online last night.

Teachers have repeatedly warned of the dangers of attacks from students and even parents, with some suffering terrible injuries. Last year, 250 pupils were caught with weapons in schools. In inner-city comps, the increase in knife violence between teenagers - or more accurately the fear of it - has led heads to introduce airport-style metal detector arches, as well as widespread CCTV. The result: those schools can be safer than surrounding streets.

Ms Maguire’s family, colleagues, students and the wider community are left to try to come terms with the arrival of horrific violence in their midst.

What can be done to prevent such an attack? Our politicians are duty-bound to explore anything that might help to protect teachers from violence. Yet many schools already work closely with the police and mental health specialists. Yesterday, ministers and teachers’ unions were careful to avoid snap-reactions. Some will probably call for new powers or laws to try to prevent another such attack, despite wariness about legislation drawn up in the heat of the moment, which can be prone to fail.

Ms Maguire’s death will remind people of the fatal stabbing of Philip Lawrence, the London headteacher murdered trying to help a pupil under attack. But that was in 1995, a generation ago.

I would argue - tentatively at such an early stage in the police investigation - that this killing says nothing more fundamental about our society or about childhood. Instead we must look at the devastating behaviour of a tiny minority of teenagers.

Meanwhile, the outpouring of affection for Ms Maguire from her pupils, past and present, reminds us of the truly profound impact that teachers have on others’ lives.

i@independent.co.uk

Twitter.com: @olyduff

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power