The tragic killing of teacher Ann Maguire, stabbed to death in front of her class, has reignited the debate about security in schools.
It is the first time a teacher has been killed in school since the murder of headteacher Phillip Lawrence at the hands of a teenage gang member in North London in 1995.In the two decades since, the issue of violence in schools has never been far from the headlines. Now Sky News has obtained a picture of the extent of violent behaviour targeted at teachers and other staff in schools. Figures from the Department for Education show there has been a steady increase in incidences of assault and abuse against adults in schools. In 2009/10, 16,950 pupils were excluded or suspended for attacks against teachers. In 2010/11, the figure was 17,360, while in 2011/12, it rose again to 17,520. The figure does not include an even greater number of pupils excluded for attacks against other children. Although the killing of a teacher in school is extremely rare, teachers say they are worried about violence in schools. Sky News conducted an investigation into the number of pupils found by police to be carrying weapons in schools which shows there is cause for concern. Since 2011, 981 pupils were caught by police with weapons in schools, including guns, knives and a meat cleaver. The figure includes at least 80 primary school children, the youngest of whom was an eight-year-old found to be carrying a knife to school in Scotland. Some 329 of those found with weapons - including those caught with a stun gun, an axe and a cut-throat razor - were charged with a criminal offence. Campaigners warned the true figure is certain to be much higher as 21 police forces did not supply the information. The research also discounts figures from West Midlands police, which alone recovered weapons from 538 people during the same period, because its figures also account for colleges and universities. The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show that on average across the country, almost two pupils are caught with weapons every school day. Recent events lead to further questions about whether schools and policy makers have failed to tackle the problem. Although the Government announced in 2009 changes that could have seen knife arches and metal detectors used in schools up and down the country, that never happened. Some schools use wands and airport-style metal detectors but companies which supply the equipment claim many have stopped using them in recent years. That has prompted some to call for a reassessment of the measures necessary to keep teachers and pupils safe in schools.
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