Keep schools open late to tackle knife crime, says children’s commissioner

children's commissioner

Schools in areas with high levels of serious youth violence should remain open in the evenings and at weekends as part of “emergency measures” to tackle the problem, the children’s commissioner has said.

Anne Longfield told the parliamentary education committee that knife crime was a “massive concern” for her office, and warned of “a really vulnerable group of kids who are falling through the gaps and becoming marginalised”.

I would like to see schools staying open in the evenings and opening at weekends

It follows calls last year for staggered school finish times to stop rival groups of pupils clashing after leaving the school gates.

Schools are under increasing pressure to help tackle serious youth violence following a rise in the number of knife offences in England and Wales over the last five years. The number of young people hospitalised after an assault by a sharp object has also risen since 2014.

The Home Office has already proposed that teachers be “held accountable” for preventing and tacking knife crime and other serious violence, but Ofsted has warned that schools don’t get enough support to help deal with the issue.

“I think we should almost be on emergency measures in the areas of high violence,” Longfield said this morning.

“I would like to see schools staying open in the evenings and opening at weekends. I would like there to be youth workers who are proactively in schools talking to the kids at risk.”

However, she admitted there were problems with “fragmentation” of local services, such as youth workers, and between government departments, and said a joined-up approach should be a “top priority” for Downing Street and the Cabinet Office.

Schools Week revealed last November how many schools have already stepped up their response to rising youth violence levels, often putting staff in danger as a result.

Carolyn Roberts, headteacher of Thomas Tallis School in south-east London, said she had been forced to send her staff to “actively supervise” the local shops until 4pm, when a curfew comes into effect. Any pupils caught in the area after that time are disciplined when they return to school.

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  1. Tom Burkard

    So teachers now have to become police officers after school hours–you couldn’t make it up. Anyone who thinks that this is a reasonable response to the problem of knife-wielding gangsters should not be Children’s Commissioner.

    • Jasper williams

      Exactly where are the teachers supposed to come from to do this? `it will take twice as many as we now have since teachers are already fully occupied and need their time after school hours to prepare for the next day’s lessons and mark students’ work. What art or woodwork teacher would allow children into their room without proper supervision? And if crime takes place between 4 and 6 now, what will happen when children are going home after 6 or later when it is dark. A completely mad idea. Just one more case of putting what should be parental responsibility onto teachers.

  2. The idea that teachers should be ‘held accountable’ for knife crime is risible. Knife crime isn’t just committed by those of school age although they are often the victims. What next? Teachers being made accountable for drug-related crime? Domestic abuse? Shop lifting? Vandalism?
    Staggering school times isn’t an answer. It just gives time for pupils from School A to muster at the gates of School B when the pupils leave.

  3. Dan Johnson

    Or perhaps re-open all of those youth centres that have closed due to the austerity cuts and stop politicians laying the solution at the doors of schools? Specialist youth workers who understand the young people in their locality and who can dedicate time to supporting them would do a more effective job than passing another role onto the already crowded job descriptions of school staff.

  4. Looking forward to seeing the workshops and activities she is offering at her local school and how much she gets paid for her overtime from an already historic high funding level. I cannot wait to enrol my children!