Ofsted is set to ask school and college leaders across London about how they are keeping pupils safe from knife crime, in an attempt to tackle the “sickening” problem.
Leaders of about 700 schools, further education colleges and pupil-referral units in the capital will be asked how they safeguard pupils against the threat of knife crime on their premises, and how students are educated about the dangers of carrying a weapon.
Ofsted’s regional director for London, Mike Sheridan, said the responses would not be used to help form judgements on individual schools.
Schools can take part anonymously, but can also choose to identify themselves or even have focused visits from Ofsted to help with the inspectorate's research.
Ofsted will also be carrying out focus groups with parents of children who have been affected by knife crime.
Mr Sheridan said: “Knife crime is a stain on our society. It is a sickening concern for young people, their families and entire communities.
“In recent times, it seems like not a day goes by without heart-wrenching headlines telling of yet another young life, tragically taken too soon. I, like many others, simply cannot sit by without trying to help.”
He said schools, colleges and others who worked with young people have a vital role to play in protecting children from knife crime, and that Ofsted was determined to support this important work.
Mr Sheridan said: “Their responses will help inform our research. The information they share will not be used to make judgements about individual schools.
“We are not looking to catch anyone out. We want to understand what teachers and leaders are doing to protect their young people from knife crime, so that we can learn from it and help other schools and colleges in developing their own strategies.”
Tackling an 'epidemic'
Tes revealed last month that more than a quarter of London secondaries have taken up an offer of free knife-detecting "wands".
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has described an “epidemic” of knife crime and last June offered free metal-detecting wands to all 498 secondary schools and 63 FE colleges in London.
The latest figures show that 150 schools and colleges have taken up the offer. The mayor’s office said more schools were expected to do so.
Tes also revealed that Ofsted had started a mixed-method study to find out how schools were safeguarding pupils from the threat of knife crime. This will culminate in a report in the autumn.
Mr Sheridan said that knife crime was not just a London issue and that he hoped the findings of Ofsted's report would also help school leaders in other parts of the country.
A link has been sent directly to schools and the survey is live until Saturday 19 May.
“I urge all schools and colleges contacted to participate, so that we can gather as much useful information as possible,” Mr Sheridan said.
Last month, Don Maguire, the widower of murdered teacher Ann Maguire, said that lessons had still not been learnt from his wife's death. Ms Maguire was fatally stabbed in her classroom by 15-year-old pupil Will Cornick in Leeds in 2014.