Consider knife wands after latest school stabbing, heads advised

Boy, 15, returns to Bradford school after being stabbed as head laments 'terrible day for our community'

Martin George

Geoff Barton said schools worried about knife crime should consider using knife wands.

Schools should consider using knife wands to keep staff and pupils safe, a headteachers’ leader has said after a pupil was stabbed at a school in Bradford.

The recommendation came on the day that the government said it could introduce a new legal duty on teachers to spot signs of young people being involved in violence.

The idea, outlined by home secretary Sajid Javid, sparked opposition from unions.

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Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, raised concerns about schools being “scapegoated” as a cause of knife crime, and said the plan was “unacceptable”.

On Friday, a 15-year-old boy was stabbed at Beckfoot Thornton, a secondary school in Thornton, Bradford.

The boy’s shoulder was injured, but he was not in a life-threatening condition.

West Yorkshire Police today said a 16-year-old male arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent has been released on bail, pending further enquiries.

In a message posted on the school’s website today, headteacher Jeremy Richardson described Friday as “obviously a terrible day for our community and has shocked us all”.

He said the school has secured additional emotional support for pupils and staff who may need it this week.

Mr Richardson added that the injured pupil was returning to school today.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told Tes that schools have “robust procedures” in place to ensure knives and other weapons are not brought on to the premises.

He added: “Several schools use knife wands which can be very effective not only in detecting weapons but serving as a deterrent to any pupil who is minded to bring a knife into school.

“They are a visible way of sending out a clear message and are something that is well worth considering for any school which is worried about this issue.

“However, individual schools are best placed to decide what is needed and what works best in their context.”

Last month, Tes reported that fewer than half of London's secondary schools had taken up an offer of free knife wands, while a local rep of the NEU teaching union was suspended after saying that a child being stabbed was preferable to installing knife arches in schools.

Last week, a teacher in America who had been stabbed with a butcher’s knife by a pupil called for students’ backpacks to be banned, to make it harder for children to bring weapons on to campus.

Jennifer Guyre, of Trickum Middle School, near Atlanta, Georgia, said she would prefer this approach to metal detectors.

She made her plea at a meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education last month.

However, Mr Barton said he was sceptical about the idea.

He said: “The idea of banning backpacks would be hard to introduce because lots of pupils need to have a way of carrying books and other equipment to and from school.”

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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