A plan by the government that would see teachers being ‘held accountable’ for knife crime has been slammed as ‘unworkable and unreasonable’ by school leaders and teaching unions.
The proposals have been made by the Home Office with a consultation being launched by Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, with the aim of creating a multi-agency approach to ‘public health duty’.
The move would see public bodies including hospitals, social services and schools raising concerns over youngsters who are at risk of being involved in knife crime.
The new legislation would impose a legal duty for the reporting of those pupils who display worrying behaviours while in school or having to deal with issues in the home or who attend hospital suffering from suspicious injuries.
Organisations would get funding for early intervention services
The Home Office says that organisations would get funding for early intervention services and they would have the backing of legislation to ensure various public bodies are held accountable and work together for the tackling and prevention of serious violence.
The consultation is set to run for eight weeks before a decision is made on whether legislation will be tabled to support it. A similar approach by the governments in Wales and Scotland have also been used.
Prime Minister Teresa May will host a summit this week that will help focus the attention of those bodies that come into contact with young people from health, police and education to ‘work together better with targeted interventions’.
However, the general secretary of the NASUWT, Chris Keates, said that knife crime is a complex issue and it is not going to be resolved by putting responsibilities and pressure on headteachers and teachers.
He also warned that agencies will soon be overwhelmed by the system’s referrals.
‘Held accountable if they fail to spot any warning sign of knife crime’
He explained: “Threatening staff, including teachers, who already have a challenging and difficult job that they’ll be accountable if they fail to spot any warning sign of knife crime is unacceptable and will add to the factors causing teachers to leave teaching.”
He added that the move would also deter many potential recruits from becoming teachers.
The National Education Union’s joint general secretary, Dr Mary Boustead, said that neither the ‘solution nor the blame for violent crime’ can be passed to hospital or school staff.
She added that schools have lost special needs teachers, pastoral support and school counsellors in recent years.
Just last month Ofsted warned that London’s schools are not receiving enough support for them to help deal with knife crime.
The Association of School and College Leaders’ general secretary, Geoff Barton, said: “It’s hard to see how this plan would be either reasonable or workable to make teachers accountable in preventing knife crime.
“What sort of behaviour are they expected to report and who will they report this to?”