EXCLUSIVE: Some schools are 'too afraid' to discuss knife crime, national charity claims

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Reputation can be everything for schools and an anti-knife charity believes some schools are too afraid to discuss knife crime as they fear it will lead parents to believe they have a problem.

Patrick Green, trust manager at The Ben Kinsella Trust said: “Schools are worried about sending out the wrong message to parents.

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“However, we have found that schools which have knife crime awareness are generally safer and create a better environment for pupils.

“Schools need to talk openly about knife crime rather than hiding it.

“The challenge for schools is to get over the stigma of knife crime.

“Far more needs to be done to help young people and educate them away from the dangers of knives.

“The school environment is often the best place for this work to take place.

“Knife crime awareness programmes help young people in terms of reassurance, risk, resilience and responsibility - the four ‘r’s’”

Mr Green thinks Ofsted can play an important role in influencing schools to increase awareness of knife crime.

He explains: “As part of their inspection process, Ofsted should challenge schools by asking them what they are doing to tackle knife crime.

“Schools need to not only look at knife crime on school premises but to support pupils on their journeys to and from school to ensure they are protected.

“All schools want a really good Ofsted and if we can get knife crime awareness higher up in the list of Ofsted requirements, schools will be more amenable to change.”

Andy Mellor, vice-president of the National Association of Headteachers, says schools already do a lot of work with pupils to raise awareness of different issues and equip them with life skills.

He says: “Every day, there are teacher colleagues around the country delivering high quality support to children and young people to help them become better citizens and a part of society.

“However, although schools do this, they are under pressure - particularly at high school - to deliver a very academic education.

“My view is that there needs to be a balance between academic skills and key life skills.”

An Ofsted spokesman said: “We do not explicitly inspect how schools combat knife crime.

“Ofsted’s guidance document ‘Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills’ includes information about inspecting how effectively leaders and governors create a safeguarding culture in their school.

“This includes whether appropriate arrangements are in place to protect staff and pupils from harm.

“Inspectors will consider how schools support pupils to remain safe when travelling to and from school.

“This might, for example pick up on concerns about local gangs in the area and what the school does to raise pupils’ awareness of how to stay staff.

“And also what, if anything, the school is doing with others in the community to help ensure that pupils are safe on their journey to and from school.”