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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 01:25 GMT
Dunblane 10 years on: School security

By Gail Champion

Sixteen children and a teacher were shot at Dunblane Primary School
Sixteen children and a teacher were killed at Dunblane Primary School
Monday marks 10 years since the massacre at Dunblane Primary School. Sixteen children and their teacher were shot dead by Thomas Hamilton in the school gym. He then killed himself.

BBC Radio's Five Live Report programme asks whether adequate safeguards are now in place to ensure schools are secure.

Ten years after the Dunblane tragedy, many schools remain unsafe and at risk from intruders, a Home Office report into school security has found.

The report, carried out by the University of Leicester, says schools have inadequate procedures for reporting violent incidents and do not see safety as important because, unlike school meals, security does not have its own league table.

Dedicated fund

Critics say insufficient funds are allocated to schools to put effective security in place.

Funds for school protection come from money allocated to local authorities for spending on a wide variety of projects including information technology, buildings and maintenance - but there is no dedicated fund for school security.

At Prestwich Community Arts College, near Manchester, 170,000 has been spent on security in less than four years.

Paul Walmsley
We would like to see security scanners in schools to prevent weapons from getting near children
Paul Walmsley

The school's business manager Linda Ash says this money has come from the school's own budget and reflects its proactive approach to child protection.

Despite the school's investment in a security fence and CCTV system, a BBC Radio Five Live reporter was able to gain access to the school unchallenged and walk around for 30 minutes.

The Home Office study examined security in two schools during a two-year period.

Both were found to have poor awareness of their own security risks.

Money was spent on inappropriate security measures, including CCTV cameras that were not monitored by staff.

The study's head researcher, Kate Broadhurst, told BBC Radio's Five Live Report programme: "It was clear that schools don't have good systems in place to understand problems around crime and disorder.

Violence 'increasing'

"Security isn't an issue that schools are measured on in terms of league tables and so it isn't at the top of their agenda."

Teachers say violence among pupils is also rising.

For security to be effective, schools' security needs to be assessed and monitored regularly
Department for Education and Skills

A recent Mori poll indicated 29% of school children admit to having carried a knife.

Paul and Jayne Walmsley, whose son Luke was murdered by a fellow pupil at Birkbeck School in Lincolnshire in 2004, think there should be CCTV cameras in every school.

Paul Walmsley said: "To protect our children there should be higher levels of security in schools.

"We would like to see security scanners in schools to prevent weapons from getting near children."

Many new teachers say they have little or no training in how to defuse violent situations.

One said: "I did ask a question about it, but was told to use my common sense."

A statement by the Department for Education and Skills said: "The responsibility for school security is shared between the LEA [local education authority], the governing body and the head teacher.

"For security to be effective, schools' security needs to be assessed and monitored regularly."

Dunblane 10 Years On: How Safe Are Our Schools? is on BBC Radio's Five Live Report programme on Monday 13 March at 1000 GMT.

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