Schools put their heads together to keep classrooms safe
Headteachers from schools across the borough joined representatives from the local community, the Met Police and Barking and Dagenham Council to discuss how to make sure classrooms are a safe place for pupils.
The training event provided guidance to schools on what powers they have when it comes to searching pupils and confiscating banned items such as knives, as well as discussing student and staff safety.
The event was funded using money raised from the record-breaking fine issued to retailer B&M in September 2018 for the underage sales of knives at their Barking store, secured by the council’s Legal services.
Last year, there were 14 reports of knives found in secondary schools, pupil referral units and colleges in Barking and Dagenham, including nine instances where school staff discovered the weapons.
“Our schools play a vital part in guiding our young people into adulthood, but we can’t expect them to deal with a problem beyond the boundary of the school gates – that is why we need to work together."
Councillor Margaret Mullane, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement, said: “Our schools play a vital part in guiding our young people into adulthood, but we can’t expect them to deal with a problem beyond the boundary of the school gates – that is why we need to work together.
“While this issue is far worse in other parts of London, it’s important that we face up to the reality that it can happen in any school. This isn’t about alarming parents or pupils, it’s about responding to what’s sadly become a common problem in the capital and making sure we’re taking a proactive approach.
“By focusing on tackling the root cause of issues, rather than always trying to tackle the resulting problems we can hopefully prevent these young people ending up becoming a statistic and help them fulfil their potential.”
The event is the continuation of work that began in January at London’s first tri-borough Serious Violence Summit, held in Dagenham, and forms a key part of the whole approach to dealing with knife crime in the borough.
Cllr Mullane added: “Some people might think the easy solution is to exclude kids caught carrying knives – but then what? There is a knock-on effect and we have a duty as a responsible council to work with partner agencies to tackle the issues.”
“This highly informative event adds to the excellent work being done through partnership working to keep all children in the borough safe. "
The event took place at the Boathouse Studio in Barking on Wednesday, 8 May. Among the headteachers that attended was David Dickson, in charge at Eastbury Community School.
Mr Dickson said: “This highly informative event adds to the excellent work being done through partnership working to keep all children in the borough safe. The event enhanced the robust procedures schools have in place to take swift and appropriate action when there is evidence that pupils are at risk”.