COMMENT

Monday 6 November 2017

Pressuring schools will not solve knife crime ‘epidemic’, Mr Khan

Schools are under ever-increasing amounts of pressure from every angle, so Sadiq Khan’s recent calls for Ofsted to judge schools on their ability to ‘root-out’ knife crime is ill-advised, unwelcome, and ignorant.

No teacher anywhere in the country would deny that they would do all they can to keep their pupils safe and aware of the danger of knives.

But to insinuate that they should be considered inadequate if they are not meeting subjective targets – to combat a rising problem across the spectrum of society – is insulting.

The factors involved in the scourge of knife crime are wide-ranging and are rooted in socio-economic problems that schools can not in any way be held accountable for.

Yes, Ofsted is reviewing violence involving school-age pupils, and in the words of London regional director Mike Sheridan, the school’s inspectorate is ‘determined to support’ work to protect our children.

But it is most unclear as to how Mr Khan thinks he is helping the situation by turning the spotlight on our underfunded and overworked education system.

Teachers and support staff in all of our schools work tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of their pupils during and outside of school hours.

There is a limit to their influence, however, and they should not be being judged on a single issue such as this.

Roughly half of the 65 victims of knife crime in the capital this year have been under the age of 25. The numbers are disproportionate, but not limited to those still in full-time education.

And if Mr Khan is dedicated to tackling the problem, he should be looking at changes to policing, sentencing, and social mobility for answers.

Singling out our schools and threatening them with the spectre of the inspector’s red pen is not the way to go.

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