Custom Search 1

Knife-carrying kids risk criminalisation on basis of grades

KNIFE CRIME REPORT: Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman

CHILDREN ARE at risk of being criminalised for carrying a knife as a result of their general behaviour and their academic attainment, a new report from Ofsted has revealed.

The report, Safeguarding children and young people in education from knife crime, which is based on research carried out in 29 schools, colleges and pupil referral units in London, and 107 responses from a survey sent to 600 institutions, found that school leaders have very different approaches to involving the police in knife-carrying incidents.

The report found that some school leaders had “a strong ethos against criminalising children, or calling the police” in relation to a child possessing a knife on school grounds, others strongly believed that it was an offence and should be treated accordingly.

While school leaders had varying responses to whether it was a criminal offence to carry a knife to school and how children who did so should be dealt with, almost all of those surveyed said that factors including a child’s prior attainment, their general behaviour, whether or not they were vulnerable and looked after or not would all factor into their decision to call the police or not.

“What is concerning here is that this lends itself to a huge potential for bias – children who have a certain demeanour, a particular type of relationship with their teacher or a type of background may likely be criminalised for the same actions that other children would not, depending on which school they go to, and even within the same school,” the report said.

Among Ofsted’s recommendations are for schools’ personal, social, health and economic education (PHSE) curriculum to include knife crime, for information-sharing between the relevant bodies, including the Metropolitan Police, to be improved and for schools to ensure their exclusion policy reflects the department for education’s statutory guidance.

Responding to what she deemed a “harmful narrative” around the possible link between exclusions and children joining gangs after being sent to poor quality alternative provision or PRUs, Spielman said: “Over 80 per cent of state-funded registered AP and PRUs are rated good or outstanding by my inspectors and, of those pupils not on a state school roll at age 16, few get there directly via exclusion from a mainstream school.”

She added: “What’s much more concerning is off-rolling or managed moves to unregistered or illegal AP or to no education, employment or training at all. We do not know whether children in these settings are safe, let alone being educated.”

The report also highlighted the impacts cuts are having on schools’ abilities to tackle the issue of knife crime.

Spending per head on early help and preventative services has fallen by more than 60 per cent between 2009-2010 and 2016-2017.

“Some schools are valiantly trying to fund school-based early help services or other services that were once provided for free. But we cannot allow responsibility for this to be landed on schools in the absence of properly-funded local services,” Spielman said.

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.

Facebook Comments