Every day there are three arson attacks in schools across the UK.
The first show of a new series, Newsround Investigates, looks at some of the reasons why children commit arson and examines the consequences of their actions.
This lesson accompanies the documentary, which can be viewed by clicking on the link in the right-hand, dark-blue box.
Students role play filming a news report about an arson attack at school.
By the end of the lesson, students should have a deeper understanding of:
- Reasons why children commit arson
- Consequences of arson
- Resisting peer pressure
Brainstorm the word arson and make a class list of suggestions.
Arson is when people deliberately set fire to property or buildings. Examples of arson include setting light to dustbins, grass, trees, piles of rubbish and cars.
Reasons and consequences
Individually students write down:
Three reasons why somebody might commit arson
Three consequences of arson
One student reads out their list of reasons and consequences. The rest of the class raise their hand each time suggestion matches one on their list.
- To get attention
- A cry for help because of bullying
- People can get badly burnt or killed
- It can cost thousands or millions of pounds to rebuild buildings or schools
- Losing valuable coursework
- The loss of equipment, classrooms or other facilities
- Pupils may have to move schools while their old one is being rebuilt
Repeat this exercise a few time to elicit a variety of reasons.
Resisting peer pressure
Explain to students: Peer pressure is when you do something either because all your friends are doing it or because they have persuaded you to do it.
Sometimes people are worried they'll be picked on if they don't go with the crowd. Other times people do stuff because they think their friends will like them more, or because their mates are doing it, so it seems normal.
Ask students: How would you deal with someone pressurising you to set fire to a bin at school?
These suggestions come form the BBC's Teens website. For more information, click on the link in the right-hand, dark-blue box.
- Choose your friends wisely. Go for quality, not quantity. Focus on developing firm friendships with people with the same values and ideas as you have. Even having one friend who'll back you up when you want to go against the group will really help.
- Be strong. Always go with what you know is right. Remember, good friends respect your wishes and individuality. Stand up for what you believe in and you'll respect yourself more too.
Role play news report
Scenario: You are a Newsround presenter. Last night, a school was deliberately set on fire. You are going to the scene of the fire with a camera crew to film a report for tonight's news bulletin. Your report will last three minutes - that's enough time to interview three people.
In groups of four, students decide on the three people they are going to interview.
Students take on the roles of the presenter plus three interviewees.
- Head teacher
- Child psychologist
Explain to presenters: The key question to ask each interviewee is: How have you been affected by the fire? E.g. the pupil may have lost all their coursework and is worried their school results will be affected. You can follow this up with other questions if you have time.
Students practise their news report, as if talking to camera, before presenting them to the rest of the class.
News website report
Students use their interviews to write a report for the Newsround website.
Explain to students that their story should try and answer the five Ws of news:
- What happened?
- Who was involved
- Where did it happen?
- When did it happen?
- Why did it happen?
Ask students: What can be done to stop people setting fire to buildings and property?
Fire experts say the best way is to teach people that fire can be dangerous. It not only damages property but can also cause severe injury or death.
Experts say there are four other main ways to help stop arson in schools:
- Take part in regular fire drills
- Lock away any materials that burn easily
- Store waste bins and wheelie bins away from the building, locked up if possible
- Discourage arsonists from entering the building or grounds by maintaining fencing and keeping alarm systems up-to-date
For resources about arson, click on the links in the top-right corner of this page.
PSHE Key Stage 3 National Curriculum
2g. Recognise when pressure from others threatens personal safety and well-being, and develop effective ways of resisting pressures.
3j. Resist pressure to do wrong.
4b. Feel positive e.g. by taking part in a public performance.
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