London schools teach self-defence and first aid to protect pupils from knife crime

Schools and colleges are introducing self-defence and first aid classes to protect their pupils from harm as a knife crime epidemic seizes the capital. The Independent reports.

But headteachers’ efforts to make children feel safe could be undermined unless extra resources are secured, a school leaders’ union has said.

Gill Burbridge, principal of Leyton Sixth Form College in Waltham Forest, east London, is set to introduce self-defence and first aid classes in the new year after students called for more help.

She said: “We don’t have a problem on site but we are aware that it is when young people go to and from college where these things are very immediate issues to them.”

But she is worried that scaling-up programmes to keep pupils out of harm will be harder amid “dire” budget pressures. “Our funding regime is set until 2020. We cannot wait until then to start doing this work,” she said.

Last week, the college principal pressed London mayor Sadiq Khan over youth violence as part of an “accountability assembly”, organised by grassroots’ campaign London Citizens.

“I’ll never forget the day I rushed out of my house to be the first one on the scene, hopelessly holding on to my friend as he fought for his life,” Shanea, a 17-year-old from St Bonaventure’s sixth form college in Newham, told the event on Thursday. “Going through this trauma affected me… mentally, emotionally, and academically.”

Carina Crawford-Khan, community organiser with Citizens UK, said. “Definitely there is a need for first aid and not standing idly by and looking at what do we do so we are not bystanders. Children and young people want to be part of the solution.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said institutions are equipping students with skills, such as self-defence, which they may not have done previously.

He said: “Children in all kinds of communities, not just those in the cities, have a fear of knife crime. So I think the number one thing that schools will be doing is reassuring young people.”

Mr Barton said: “If you are having to cut your staffing and having to increase class sizes, there just simply isn’t the money to do everything expected of schools, including this.

“The more society expects schools to be able to do, the more it needs to be prepared to put the money behind it to make that possible.”

Read more London schools teach self-defence and first aid to protect pupils from knife crime

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