Middle class schools must not ignore lessons of Bailey’s death says report author

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SCHOOLS in affluent areas of Scotland must not ignore the lessons of the tragic death of Bailey Gwynne, the official who investigated the case warned today.

Andrew Lowe said the 16-year-old’s death showed that such incidents were not just limited to troubled neighbourhoods.

The current chairman of child and adult protection for Renfrewshire added that no matter how middle class a school area is, such an incident could happen to their pupils too.

Bailey, a pupil at Cults Academy in Aberdeen, was killed on school grounds in October last year after being stabbed by a fellow pupil.

Mr Lowe, who was appointed to lead the independent inquiry, released his report last week revealing how Gwynne’s death was “avoidable” if pupils had informed staff that his killer carried weapons.

The fight at the school, which achieves some of the best grades in Scotland, has been described today by Mr Lowe as “a fairly classic tussle you might see between boys in any school”.

In a magazine interview he said: “This tragedy has revealed these incidents don’t only happen in inner cities and troubled neighbourhoods.

“My message would be this. It is you in the schools, who think think this nothing to do with you, that need to listen.

“A school is a community and pupils and teachers and auxiliary staff all have a duty to each other to make sure school is safe.

“One of the things about this tragedy was that people knew this young man carried weapons, but did not think it necessary to inform teachers.”

He added that those who knew Gwynne’s attacker seen him as “a quiet boy who felt empowered by having this knife in his pocket” and did not see him as a threat.

Andy Smith, president of School Leaders Scotland and headteacher of Carluke High, South Lanarkshire, said no headteacher would be complacent in the wake of the tragedy.

He added: “The number one principle is always make sure young people feel safe and protected and a headteacher will do anything they can do to ensure this happens.

“While these tragic circumstances happen rarely, they are a reminder that we need to ensure that young people in our care are looked after as best as they possibly can be.”

Bailey was stabbed at school by a fellow pupil on 28 October 2015 following an argument over a biscuit.

His killer, who was also 16 and can’t be named for legal reasons, was sentenced to nine years in prison after being found guilty of culpable homicide at the High Court in Aberdeen in April.

Following the report being published last Tuesday, police revealed they had attended 15 knife-related incidents in Aberdeen city schools since Bailey’s death last October.

Now it has been revealed that over the ten months, police attended to schools in Aberdeenshire 16 times owing it incidents with knifes – ten of which were in Moray.

Mr Lowe, who is currently the independent chairman of child and adult protection for Renfrewshire and the chairman of the Glasgow Public Social Partnership for Learning Disability, was appointed to lead an inquiry into his death.

He issued 21 recommendations in his report including that parents should receive a letter from their pupils school in S1 outlining rules and expectations regarding weapons.

Other recommendations included pupil and pupil council forums where schoolchildren could inform staff of anyone carrying weapons and that the government should consider amend the law in relation to searching pupils.

The report created heated debates on whether metal detectors and searches should be implemented at schools across the UK.

 
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