Keeping Children Safe

Hannah Wilson, Headteacher of Aureus School, writes in Staffrm to encourage schools to register for the #keepingchildrensafe conference on 14/3 hosted by Harris City Academy Crystal Palace 

Fear of violent crime is encouraging young people in London to carry knives, resulting in a rise in stabbings, a police and crime report suggests. Knife crime in the city has risen to a four-year high following a relatively steady increase since June 2014. In June 2012 there were 1,719 recorded stabbings of people aged under 25 in the capital compared with 1,749 in August 2016, the report found.

Headlines, reports and data like this worries me as it affects not only young people’s lives, it not only affects society but it adds additional challenges to our profession. It affects teachers as it makes it even harder to keep our children safe.

Teaching is hard, tutoring is hard, leading schools is hard, but no-one really prepares you for the safeguarding element of working in an urban environment with unsafe streets.  We can keep our children safe in school, whilst they are in our care, but we are not with them 24 hrs a day.

I have spent 12 years in London teaching, but in reality I have spent as much time dealing with pastoral and safeguarding issues as I have teaching. Knife arches, social workers, ASBOs, gangs, drugs, grooming, street crime have been part of  my identity as a London educator. Every strategy we know has been deployed to keep our children safe. 

I have been luckier than most. In 12 years in London I have worked in school communities who have been affected by a handful of student deaths for a range of reasons. 1 from a RTA, 1 from an illness and 1 from a gang crime. I say lucky because we did not do anything different to the schools who were not so lucky. I really feel for the teachers and tutors scarred by losses of live. Fatal decisions where children could not be kept safe, despite every best intention by the parents and the staff. Snap shot decisions, ending fatally. Havoc being wreaked.

I have been involved in a lot investigations which resulted in a negative outcome, but thankfully not a fatal outcome. Students who I worked closely with, who I was helping to turn around, who were on the right track, making poor decisions to carry something on their person, to school and being excluded as we could no longer keep them nor their peers safe.

Violent crime in England and Wales is up 24%, police figures show. Murder rate rises 20%, knife crime 9% and gun crime 7% according to police recorded crime figures.

Students carrying for others. Students carrying to protect themselves. Students carrying because they are afraid. Students leaving this world too soon.

So I am supporting EduKit in organising an event on March 14th to bring together Pan-London stakeholders to share practical strategies to #keepchildrensafe:

www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/keeping…

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Categories: Event, Guest Post, Resources and Safeguarding.

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