The news of the stabbing to death of a teacher in Leeds is both truly shocking and saddening at the same time. Fortunately, such deaths in schools are rare in the United Kingdom, and it is no small irony that this fatality happened in a Roman Catholic school in a challenging area just as the death nearly 20 years ago of head teacher Philip Lawrence did in north Westminster. We may live in a post-Christian society, but the Churches still offer education in many of the more disadvantaged areas of our country.
My thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of the teacher, as well as the pupils and those that work at the school, and the wider local community. Nearly 40 years ago, I was the victim of a classroom stabbing by an intruder that could in different circumstances have ended in a fatality. As a result, I can understand something of the grief such an unexpected event give rise to. Fortunately, unlike in my day, there will no doubt be extensive counselling offered to all concerned. I don’t know the circumstances of this stabbing, except that the news bulletin says that it was a female teacher in her 60s who presumably had been at the school for some time. More will no doubt come out over the next few days and then at the subsequent trial.
The Court of Appeal has recently taken a tough stand on the carrying of knives, and rightly so if we are to reduce the incidence of violence still further in society. But, despite all the draconian laws it is impossible to entirely prevent attacks where there is a will to do violence to another.
Finally, perhaps the Secretary of State might consider a memorial in the new offices for the DfE after they move to Whitehall in 2017 that recognises the sacrifice of the small band of teachers that have given their lives to their profession. There may not be many of them, but they deserve not to be forgotten.