Aberdeen ,

Progress update on implementation of anti-weapon/knife strategy

An update on progress towards implementing an anti-weapon knife strategy went before Aberdeen City Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee today (Thursday 17 November).

Members of the committee heard details of the draft strategy and its alignment to the recommendations of the independent review carried out following the death of pupil Bailey Gwynne at Cults Academy in 2015.

The recommendations before members were to:

  1. Approve the strategy;
  2. Note the additional and supportive activities;
  3. Note the commitment to wider training, development and implementation

contained within the strategy;

  1. Note the partnership working across the Northern Alliance local authorities to

delivering this strategy collectively.

All four recommendations were approved by the committee.

Following the tragedy at Cults Academy in October 2015 an Education Support Officer was identified to lead the development and subsequent implementation of an anti-weapon/knife crime strategy.

This work commenced in early 2016 in collaboration with other key partners including:

  • the Northern Alliance partnership (Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Highland, Moray, Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles Councils)
  • Police Scotland
  • primary and secondary head teachers
  • communities teams
  • social work teams
  • pupils
  • parents

Following a series of meetings with the each of the key partners a draft anti-weapon/knife strategy was created which identified actions and timelines for delivery.

The plan identified a multi-partnership approach with a number of key actions shared across the Northern Alliance to ensure a consistent approach by the seven local authorities.

Although the findings of the independent review were not available at that time it was decided that work should begin on a number of actions in the interim period. The work actioned at this stage included:

  • roll out of ‘Keeping People Safe’ presentation and lessons to Secondary 1 pupils by Police Scotland;
  • adaptation of Ben Kinsella Trust resources for delivering to Primary 7 pupils;
  • input to Pupil Focus Groups from Aberdeen City Council with pupil feedback used to develop further strategy actions;
  • poster created with head teacher suggestions and feedback;
  • pledge name decided using pupils suggestions;
  • parent leaflet drafted;
  • anti-weapon/knife plan, draft poster and resources shared with Northern Alliance
  • youth workers trained on weapon/knife crime.

Following the publication of the independent review in October the draft strategy paper was cross referenced with the recommendations and required amendments and additions were made. This amended paper was presented to the anti-weapon/knife Operational Group on 13 October 2016 for approval. Immediate action following the Operational Group meeting included:

  • creation of an implementation plan which captures all of the key actions;
  • updated information for head teachers with regards to protocols regarding knife/weapon possession within schools;
  • meetings set up with key personnel with responsibility for implantation of identified actions.

Work towards the implementation phase is already under way and partnership working will continue during this time both with local organisations and the Northern Alliance.

The anti-weapon/knife strategy also provides clarity to school staff on the protocol of notifying and recording incidents relating to weapons including knives, pupil searches and confiscation of weapons/knives, anti-bullying recommendations and the complaints policy. Professional learning opportunities will be provided to teachers in order that they can deliver anti-weapon/knife crime lessons.

Gayle Gorman, Director of Education and Children’s Services, Aberdeen City Council, said: “The report before committee today outlined and demonstrated Aberdeen City Council and our partners clear commitment to implement the recommendations of the review – and indeed to go further to ensure that our children, young people, families, communities and staff are as informed as they can be regarding the tragic and devastating consequences of carrying weapons.

“I know that no strategy or indeed case review will alter the fact that Bailey is no longer with us and that his loss is keenly felt by all who knew and loved him.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff – both centrally involved – and especially those at Cults Academy – Mrs Muirhead and her team – in the care and support they offered all pupils – and for their ongoing support for those children and families most impacted upon by the loss of Bailey. As always my thoughts are with Bailey’s family.”