Commenting on proposals by the Home Office that could make schools accountable for failing to stop violent crime, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Neither the blame for or the solution to violent crime can be laid at the door of schools or front-line hospital staff. Schools already have strong safeguarding practices in place and staff will be alerted to any issues of concern. The problem is what happens after issues of concern have been identified. Schools have lost pastoral support, special needs teachers and school counsellors.

“Too many families and communities have suffered the devastating consequences of violent crime. It needs real solutions put in place to prevent yet more incidents occurring – solutions that address the causes and not just the symptoms.

“The Home Secretary should accept the impact the decimation of youth services has had, leaving very few safe places for children to go outside of school hours or during the holidays. The severe cutbacks to support services to deal with behaviour issues that occur in and outside of schools are also a major issue. Schools sometimes, but always reluctantly, have to exclude pupils. However, the illegal off-rolling of pupils who too often drop through the system with no adequate safety net to catch them cannot be justified. To stop this happening schools need the resources, support and funding to cope with pupils with additional needs and we need an accountability system that does not penalise schools who are working with children with complex needs.”