Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pupils found with handguns in British schools

Nearly 40 children have been found with guns on school premises over the last three years, a shocking new national survey has disclosed.```````````````

Figures obtained from police forces across Britain showed guns and air weapons had been confiscated on 37 occasions by officers - including two hand guns.

The other guns included 27 ball bearing guns and seven other air weapons.

The figures showed almost 1,000 pupils in total were caught by police with weapons in schools including a Taser stun gun, a meat cleaver, three axes and a cut-throat razor.

The total is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg because only 31 of country’s 52 police responded to a freedom of information request by Sky News.

It included 80 primary school children, the youngest of whom was an eight-year-old found carrying a knife to school in Scotland.

Of those found with weapons 329 were charged with a criminal offence, the figures showed. Knives made up the bulk of the weapons, with 249 seized over the three year period.

The parents of Luke Walmsley, who died at the age of 14 after being stabbed through the heart at his school in rural Lincolnshire in 2003, said a culture of violence still persisted around the country.

His mother Jayne described the figures as “really shocking”.  +“If it can happen here in small rural villages the whole world should realise it can happen anywhere,” said Mrs Walmsley.

“Something is happening to the society we live in. We need to think and educate these kids. It’s got to stop, we’ve got to do something about it.”

She added: “We want to help push the fact forward that we don’t want this to happen to anybody else, but sometimes it is a little bit like you are banging your head on a brick wall.”

Patrick Regan, the chief executive of the charity XLP, which was founded in response to a school stabbing, said: “It’s crazy that our young people are feeling that scared that they have to carry a weapon. It is so, so dangerous. There is a culture of fear that needs to be broken down.

“We need to take a look at the bigger picture and why kids are carrying knives in the first place.”

The Department for Education said it had introduced tough new measures to combat weapons in schools by giving teachers the power to search pupils without consent.

A spokesman for the department said: “We have given teachers new powers so they can take action if they suspect a pupil has brought a weapon into school.

“Teachers can now search pupils without consent, confiscate prohibited items and use force to remove disruptive pupils from the classroom when necessary.

“We have also given heads the final say on expulsions by removing the right of appeals panels to put pupils back in the classroom.”

Other weapons confiscated from pupils on school premises included eight knuckle dusters, eight lots of ammunition, one pepper spray, 30 metal bars or lead pipes and 18 baseball bats, the survey said.

Thirteen pupils were also found carrying wooden sticks embedded with nails.

Because a large number of forces did not provide information the true total will be far higher.

West Midlands Police, the country’s second largest force, was also not included in the figures because although it recovered 538 weapons its figures included colleges and universities.


Take pupils to the pub for their school lunch, urges British government minister

Children should be served their school lunches in the pub in order to help preserve community inns, a minister has claimed.

Public houses should double up as cinemas, libraries, coffee shops and village stores so that they can remain at the heart of their communities, Brandon Lewis, the minister for high streets, said.

Offering school meals at lunch times would help struggling pubs remain viable and provide children with “really good quality food”, Mr Lewis said.

It would also encourage parents to dine there at the weekends, he suggested.

“If they’ve got children at lunchtime, going to school and having a good meal, the parents are going to view that pub in a positive way. It’s playing its part in the community and they might go back for Sunday lunch, and that makes the pub more sustainable,” he said.

A small number of rural primary schools already take children to local pubs for lunch. They include Swell Primary School in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, where pupils dine at the Golden Ball Inn.

However, the trend is likely to increase following a pledge by ministers to provide free school meals to all infant pupils from September.

Head teachers have warned they will struggle to comply because their schools lack adequate kitchen capacity to cater for all their pupils.

The Telegraph is running a campaign to Reinvent the High Street to stem the tide of shop closures.

Speaking at an event in Rotherham to mark the renovation of the high street under a scheme supervised by Mary Portas, the shopping expert, Mr Lewis said people could not complain about the loss of pubs and local shops if they did not frequent them.

“Use it or you will lose it,” he told The Telegraph. “The amount of times I’ve met someone who is lamenting the loss of a local pub.

“If you ask them how often they visited it, it was lucky if it was once a month. It’s the same for the high street.”

Mr Lewis said he would like to see planned garden cities contain a space for the community to meet, such as a pub, in order to prevent the settlements becoming places where families “go in, shut the door, live their life, leave and never know their neighbours”.

The street parties held during the Olympics and the royal wedding helped communities to know one another and to reverse a trend of people living “worryingly isolated lives”, he said.

Mr Lewis last week criticised councils that attempt to raise money through parking fines.

He said that councils were harming local businesses by pushing away shoppers, and using parking enforcement as a revenue stream.

His department is now reviewing the rules.

Councils that cut their parking charges have seen a surge in the number of people visiting high streets and more business revenue, Mr Lewis said.He added: “Penalising people for going to the town centre driving, that’s just crazy”.


Free schools and academies are putting children's health at risk because they don't have to adhere to government rules on healthy meals, says top doctor

That hunger for control never lets go

Children’s health is being harmed because academies and free schools are allowed to opt out of serving healthy lunches to their pupils, one of the country’s top doctors has warned.

Professor Terence Stephenson believes that two million children are at risk of obesity because of the government’s divisive and ‘irresponsible’ policy.

Prof Stephenson, a leading paediatrician, is the chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) – the professional body for the UK’s 250,000 working doctors – also said that the schools were setting young people a bad example.

He told The Observer: ‘It's damaging children's health. Allowing children in academies and free schools to be exposed to unhealthy choices, unhealthy foods and unhealthy diets when there's still huge concern in this country about obesity in children is definitely a backward step.

'Too many schools have been allowed to withdraw from this excellent, evidence-based system.

‘It just doesn't make sense to have a “them and us” policy on something as important as school food. If it's the right policy for children in maintained schools, it's the right policy for all children. It's irresponsible to have a two-tier policy on this.’

It was in 2010 that Michael Gove, the education secretary, to grant exemption to academies from the standards, which were introduced by Labour after the television cook Jamie Oliver showed in his 2005 programme Jamie's School Dinners how much poor food was dished up in schools.

Last week, Oliver urged ministers to stop the ‘madness’ of fast food outlets opening near schools.

In 2013, the AoMRC issued a report on obesity with 10 key recommendations, Prof Stephenson said that he was ‘disappointed’ and ‘frustrated’ at the complete lack of progress on five of its suggestions including a crackdown on junk-food advertising and introduction of a 20% tax on sugary drinks to reduce consumption.

Linda Cregan, the chief executive of the Children's Food Trust, said that it believed every pupil should receive healthy, nutritious food while at school.

But the Department for Education dismissed Prof Stephenson's concerns. ‘There is no evidence whatsoever that academies and free schools serve less healthy food than council-run schools. It is utterly disingenuous and untrue to claim the academies programme is harming children's health,’ a spokesman said.

‘A survey by the Children's Food Trust found 99% of academies have voluntarily agreed to follow the food standards, even though they are not required to do so. By contrast many council-run schools – unlike the best academies – are failing to provide healthy options, instead continuing to serve fried food, fizzy drinks and pizza.

‘Instead of pretending there is a problem with a particular type of school, we should concentrate on improving food in all schools,’ the DfE spokesman said.


No comments: