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Security moves have stopped weapons coming into schools, say education bosses

Sandwell | News | Published:

Hard-hitting security measures which saw metal detectors installed in some West Midlands schools have deterred pupils from taking weapons into classrooms, education chiefs revealed today.

A national debate has been taking place on whether security in schools needs to be increased in the wake of the stabbing of Spanish teacher Ann Maguire last week in Leeds.

School bosses in the Midlands have told how tackling potential issues several years ago means pupils today know what is expected of them.

Among the schools which have previously used metal detectors was the former Parkfield High school in Bilston.

Staff used a portable device back in 2008 to see if any pupils were carrying weapons.

Now the site is home to the South Wolverhampton & Bilston Academy, where bosses say a culture of learning has been ingrained at the school, and such measures are no longer used.

A spokeswoman said: "Behaviour and safety at SWB Academy was judged recently by Ofsted as good with safeguarding procedures and practice being exemplary.

"Strong leadership has created a cohesive learning community where a culture of success and opportunity is paramount.

"The safety of staff, students and visitors is our priority and we are vigilant and proactive to ensure SWB Academy remains a safe and enjoyable place to learn."

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The former Tividale Community Arts College was among several schools in the region which previously had a police base on site at the same time as Parkfield was using metal detectors.

It was before Tividale took on its current moniker of Ormiston Sandwell Community Academy.

Councillor Ian Jones oversaw children's services at Sandwell Council when that move was made, before taking on his current role as jobs chief.

The police officer was based in the caretaker's house at the Lower City Road school and also worked in other schools in the vicinity.

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He said: "There was a direct presence on site and the police used to go into school rooms and interact with pupils on a regular basis.

"It became an accepted part of schools' drive to improve behaviour and it was considered a success.

"It's difficult to imagine anything like that could happen in the current environment of police cuts. It was ground-breaking at the time and it worked to create a better culture in school."

Mrs Maguire, aged 61, was due to retire in September and had been working only four days a week before she was fatally injured on Monday at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds.

A 15-year-old boy charged with murder has been remanded in custody.

Last month it was revealed that 12 children have been excluded from schools in Wolverhampton for going in with weapons. Seven of the cases involved knives. The city's council was the only authority in the Black Country to hold such figures for the past two academic years.

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