Regis was school's second stab victim

23rd March 2007 at 00:00
Now his teachers plan to help others by writing about their experiences

When adam Regis's year tutor heard the 15-year-old had died of stab wounds, she collapsed.

Joan Deslandes, the headteacher at Kingsford community school in Beckton, east London, said: "She was in church on Sunday when the pastor said: 'Let's pray for a local boy.' That was before his name was released by police. She did not imagine it would be one of her own pupils."

The tutor's shock was shared by others at the school, which now plans to hold workshops to combat knife and gun crime.

Ms Deslandes and her staff are writing a report on their experiences of coping with pupils' grief to help other schools in the local authority, Newham.

Adam, a Year 11 pupil, was stabbed in the chest and abdomen on Saturday as he made his way home from the cinema.

Ms Deslandes described the teenager, who was a reading mentor, as a "perfect gentleman". "Adam was the last student you'd ever expect anything like this to happen to," she said. "He was humble and down to earth."

On the day he was killed, Adam had gone into the school to take a disabled pupil and a friend with a saxophone out for the afternoon.

Ms Deslandes said: "The disabled pupil, Jacqui, said they had a fantastic day. Then Adam walked the other friend home because he had a sax and they thought he could be mugged. Adam rang his mum on the bus and said he was on his way. He was a mama's boy. He spoke to her just before he was killed."

Pupils at Kingsford have been bewildered by the attack. On Monday, all Year 11s were called in for an assembly where teachers described Adam's school days.

"Everyone was weeping, even the teachers were bawling," Ms Deslandes said.

"Then Year 11 tried to have lessons.

"We have a special corner in school to sign a book and where pupils go in ones and twos for a minute's silent reflection. At this stage, they said they don't want special counselling but want to talk to their teachers. But I am concerned about how the teachers are coping."

This is the second time this year that Kingsford has had to cope with a student death. Stephen Boachie, 17, a devout Christian, was stabbed through the heart on New Year's day after an argument outside a Barking pub.

"When Stephen died, we held a memorial at the school even though he had left the previous summer. Every single one of his year group, apart from two students, turned up," said Ms Deslandes. "And one of those, who was in the Army, came another day to sign the condolences book.

"January was the first time a pupil was tragically killed and I thought it would be the last. I never imagined it would happen again."

The school introduced a zero-tolerance policy on carrying knives after Stephen's death in January. Surveys indicate that about a third of young people in Newham have carried a knife.

Pupils attend workshops on street awareness and the risks of knives and guns, and the school plans to expand them. They are run by Tom Fisher, pastoral support officer at the school. It also runs Be Safe, a Home Office-funded scheme and Newham's own Y-Pac (Young People Affected by Crime) programme.

Staff involved in the schemes fear young people are resorting to violence more quickly than before. Mr Fisher said: "There are schools who think they are untouchable, but it is going to get bigger, even in middle-class areas.

Schools will have to deal with it."


Kevin Everard was a policeman before he founded the Be Safe project, which explains to pupils how easily they can be harmed by knives.

"In Newham, 100 per cent of young people know someone who carries a knife,"

he said. "Non-carriers mix with those who do and can easily become carriers.

"They resort to violence much quicker than before, but working in schools can make great inroads."

Shelly Khaled, training and development manager of the Y-Pac (Young People Affected by Crime) programme, agrees. The Newham-based project aims to build pupils' resilience and self-esteem.

Mr Khaled said: "We give young people the confidence to walk away from a threatening situation and still feel a bigger man. They believe that if they run they lose street cred."

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