Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Let the police keep the peace. Teachers should be educators.

Another story about Teachers’ unions, this one triggering not anger and disgust but sympathy and concern (never let it be said I am not balanced).

The Professional Association of Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers are having a disagreement over what to do about new powers to stop and search pupils to ensure that they are not carrying knives.

The PAT want staff to be trained and to wear stab vests. The NAHT would rather they called the police if there was any cause for concern.

Mick Brookes is right to argue that "Where there's a clear danger our advice to members is to call the police who are equipped and trained to do just this sort of thing”, but frankly I would go further.

Teachers should not be stopping and searching children. If there is any cause for concern, then the police should be called in. Teachers are not trained to deal with people who are both hostile and armed, and this new practice is inevitably going to lead to a casualty sooner or later.

Rising knife crime is a real problem in the UK, especially among the youth. But using teachers as untrained security guards is a very bad idea.

A much better plan would be to work with local safer neighbourhoods police teams (which would on average have an extra police officer apiece under Lib Dem plans) to check pupils whom teachers believe to be armed.

Let the police keep the peace. Teachers should be educators.

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