Objection 1, m’lud
WE ALREADY DO IT. Schools collect evidence, act on hunches, assess the weather and ring anyone, everyone who we think might help our children. There’s no-one with the capacity to do it. The police, the hospitals and social services have financial problems as bad as ours. We already report it but they can’t resolve it.
Reporting knife crime as a public health duty is based on Scotland’s success with inter-agency work. They invest heavily in their public services in the land of the haggis and the reporting duty rests on the secure foundations of well-funded public service. Yes, teachers and nurses have a duty to report, but the reporting is then picked up by dedicated specialist teams in the police, the hospitals and the local authorities. If you ring it in, they pick it up. Here, if we pick up the phone no one picks up the case. There’s no one left to do it.
Consequently, far from being early identification for early help, our thresholds in England have risen to make intervention manageable for the few staff left to do it. A child has to be well-steeped in violence, danger and risk before anyone outside school will pick it up. Police and social care just don’t have the capacity. You’ve got a reasonable hunch and a bit of evidence that a child is in danger? Sort it out in school.
“It is hard to see how it would be either workable or reasonable to make teachers accountable for preventing knife crime. What sort of behaviour would they be expected to report and who would they report to? How would they be held accountable, for what, and what would the consequences be? How would the government prevent the likelihood of over-reporting caused by the fear of these consequences? Aside from the practical considerations, we have to ask whether it is fair to put the onus on teachers for what is essentially a government failure to put enough police on the streets.”
Thank you Mr Barton of ASCL. Other teaching unions are available. They all say the same.
We have a large and expensive pastoral and inclusion set-up at Tallis. We include everyone we can without endangering others. We manage a curfew at 1600 way out of sight of our school and last week – not unusually – we worked with the police to clear hundreds of people gathering for blood at a local green space. We haven’t had a permanent Safer Schools Officer for two years because of staffing problems in the Met. All the good work we once did to build bridges between the police and these 2000 young people has been wasted away by austerity.
Partnership needs funding.
Knife crime is an adult problem. The deaths in London last weekend were adults, killed by adults. Its adults who run the gangs and the drugs, and its adults who send out children to die for them on the streets. Our young are a human shield for the drugs gangs, and they can only be saved by policing. Teachers are irrelevant to adult criminals.
The PM said ‘We can’t arrest our way out of this problem’. Who says? How does she know? Has anyone tried? Durham County Council transformed itself into a model of effective policing by focusing relentlessly and remorselessly on 400 criminals. Has anyone tried that in London? No, because it would cost. How does arresting teachers and nurses for not-reporting make any sense at all?
If we cared about children, we’d spend money on this. If we cared about children, we’d spend money on schools. If we cared. The best thing we can say about Brexit at this point is that we’ve wasted a billion pounds on nothing. That would have made a start on responsive policing and social care. ASCL knows that it’ll take another 4.5 billion to offer an acceptable standard of education. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
At the end of the day I was on College Green being interviewed by Ben Brown for the BBC. I made my point, but here’s what I didn’t say.
The Home Secretary’s remark was shamefully misinformed. The Prime Minister’s soundbite was disingenuous. Politicians thrash around for someone to blame while children die in the streets at the hand of the unscrupulous. They’ve lost control of the government but we haven’t lost control of our schools. Stop wasting money and listen to us