Essex: Eight pupils excluded last year for incidents involving weapons

Eight pupils expelled for incidents involving weapons in Essex schools last year. Library image.

Eight pupils expelled for incidents involving weapons in Essex schools last year. Library image.

Four pupils were expelled from Essex schools last year after incidents involving knives.

The shocking incidents have been revealed by Essex County Council after a Freedom of Information request.

They are half of eight permanent exclusions from schools which involved some form of weapon.

Altogether 70 children were expelled from schools in the county in the last academic year.

In another case a pupil threatened an adult with a metre ruler before spraying her in the face with a fire extinguisher.

Other incidents include one child cutting another pupil’s hand with a Stanley knife, and two separate cases where a student threatened a pupil and an adult with a knife.

The FoI request reveals others who were permanently excluded were:

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• A pupil who brought a knife into school on two consecutive days, and threatened and chased pupils with the knife visible

• A child who stapled a pupil’s hand

• A pupil who threw shoes and screws

• A child who poked another pupil with a metre ruler and threw a football at someone’s head.

Caroline Shearer, founder of the Only Cowards Carry anti-knife campaign charity, said the details and number of these incidents did not surprise her,

Mrs Shearer, from Clacton, said: “We go into schools and we keep trying to tell people this is what is happening.

“You send your children to schools, and put your faith in them, and you need them protected.

“Every school has the right to scan and search their pupils, they don’t need parents’ permission. But we have been in so many schools that don’t even have a metal-detecting wand.

“Often we are the ones having to tell schools what they can and can’t do.

“And there are some ignorant headteachers who say they don’t have a problem, and that can be the most worrying. It is something to be aware of at any school, not just in Essex.

“It will take something massive. Unfortunately we have had murders on buses and of teachers but nothing much seems to be changing.”

Jean Quinn, spokesman for the Colchester and North Essex National Union of Teachers’ branch, said: “Essex County Council is the largest education authority in the country with hundreds of schools and tens if not hundreds of thousands of pupils, so we are looking at a very small number.

“Headteachers do not take the decision to exclude or permanently exclude lightly, and it is often a last resort after other measures have been put in place to support the student. However the bringing of weapons to school cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.

“That said everybody, pupils and staff, has the right to come to their place of work and feel as well as be safe. That is enshrined in safeguarding policy.”

Ray Gooding, county councillor for education and, said: “Pupils in Essex generally have a good behaviour record and schools have robust disciplinary procedures in place to address any instances of poor behaviour.

“Permanent exclusion is always a last resort. However, violence and threats of violence against others will not be tolerated and headteachers will continue to take the necessary action to ensure the safety of their pupils and staff.”