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Monday, 29 April, 2002, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Police build rapport with primary pupils
police woman
Police officers get involves in pupils' lessons
The government wants to introduce police officers in schools with high truancy and discipline problems, in an attempt to cut down on teenage delinquency.

But, for pupils at Pallion Primary School in Sunderland, seeing police officers around school is nothing out-of-the-ordinary - officers have had a classroom of their own there for the past two and a half years.

Pupils at Pallion Primary are not running amok, dabbling in crime nor playing truant - far from it.

But the area the school serves in inner-city Sunderland is one where unemployment is high and some families are involved in crime.

The school wanted to find ways of helping children in the area to develop their attitudes and outlooks so they can improve their chances in life and resist the potential draw into a life of crime.

So, with a classroom to spare, the school invited the police officers in - not to patrol the playground, but to get involved in pupils' lessons.

'Circle time'

Officers take part in "circle time", where pupils are read a story or a piece of text and then talk through the questions they come up with in response.

In one story the school uses - Frog and Rabbit - the animals start to call each other names, explained deputy head teacher Sue Thomson.

"The children ask things like 'Why can't they be friends? Why do they argue? Should you call people names?'" said Mrs Thomson.

"We then discuss what could be done and what the other possibilities are.

"It gets them to internalise consequences of actions and it gets them to think so they have an empathy for others and are aware of wider issues, which in turn influence the wider community."

Life skills

Mrs Thomson said the aim was to improve the children's life skills.

"It helps to make them more aware and shows them they have a choice for their life."

Staff at Pallion Primary say the scheme has helped the pupils see things from the police perspective.

"When they see officers outside of school they will speak to them and have a chat - and this helps community relations," said Mrs Thomson.

"We've been so far-thinking really."

The school's scheme was highlighted as an example of good practice at a government conference on truancy and crime in London on Monday.

On patrol
Should there be police in schools?
See also:

29 Apr 02 | Education
Morris unveils school police plan
29 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Blair defends child benefit plan
25 Apr 02 | Education
Crackdown on truants
24 Apr 02 | Education
Child labour crackdown
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