Ann Maguire: Her Death Was A Sign Of God’s Love And A Sickness In Our Schools
ANN Maguire: a look at media reporting on the teacher killed by a student at a Leeds school:
The Indy: “Ann Maguire killing: Teachers across Britain reveal horrifying tales of classroom violence”
There have been two teachers killed in 20 years. But is that just the extreme end of a woeful tale?
The killing of Ann Maguire, stabbed to death in front of her class, has highlighted the risks inner city teachers take every day dealing with threats of violence in the classroom. The trauma suffered by many in the profession is shown in shocking personal accounts by teachers, often speaking on condition of anonymity.
Why don’t they tell the police? Why be anonymous?
Emma, a teaching assistant at a pupil referral unit in the West Midlands, has been “punched, kicked, sworn at, insulted, head butted, scratched, screamed at, bitten and had things thrown at me, most notably a table in my first week!” She copes with verbal abuse from pupils by imagining she is “surrounded by an invisible impenetrable barrier”. Although it’s “not an easy job” it is “highly rewarding” but having “a thick skin is a definite advantage.”
Nasty stuff. But not murder. And she is working with troubled children with a history of unruly behaviour. What’s new about them behaving horribly?
Alan Newland, a former headteacher in London, recalls an occasion where a 10-year-old boy brought a large penknife into school: “It came as a bit of shock because it had never happened before, we weren’t expecting it. I didn’t have a policy on kids bringing knives into school. He was threatening people with it…
The nutcase wants locking up.
“He was doing it in a jokey way but nevertheless the kid had a bit of a volatile background and when I took the knife from him his parents came in and demanded it back.”
Maybe best to point him in the direction of the cub scout movement, where he can lean how to handle a penknife, an item that was once a rite of passage?
Mr Newland said: “Where I’ve had issues with the threat of violence is not with kids but from the parents… I’ve had parents literally say to me ‘you do that and I’m going to fucking beat you to a pulp’ and I had no doubt that actually on the occasions that it happened these people were barely on the edge of self-control.”
But that would be criminal behaviour. The story of Anne Maguire is one of a student killing a teacher.
Another blames the money:
A teacher from County Antrim, Northern Ireland, spoke of being repeatedly attacked. “This pupil had been trying to bite me, slap people, hit me with furniture, tried to choke me and then it escalated. I was hit in the leg with a missile and then the head.” He added: “I believe the child who attacked me should have been given one-to-one teaching, but there isn’t the money for it; therefore I got hurt.”
Another teacher, from a school in Waltham Forest, London, said: “A student turned up to a practical lab session late, drunk and belligerent, put his foot in the door so I couldn’t shut it, argued with the lab technician who tried to get him to leave, and attempted to hit security when they came to remove him.”
And… And nothing. That’s it. Youth behaved like a fool. Read all about it.
The Times has more on the youth in custody:
The alleged killer had a history of self-harming and struggled to come to terms with the break-up of his parents. His elder brother, who studied at Corpus Christi, was taught by Mrs Maguire, and the two were close.
He had issues.
But the story is about violent kids, not one violent teenager. The Times gets back on the media agenda with a story written by “Anonymous”:
After the death of Ann Maguire, one teacher describes his terrifying ordeal facing an armed, angry teenager in class
It was a bad day, my GCSE Geography class didn’t want to get on with their coursework: I was patrolling the classroom, doing my best to cajole them into some kind of enthusiasm for different types of rock. While many kids in the class were being noisy and not getting on with any work, one in particular caught my eye: this was Harry, who was at the back of the class, and furtively giving something to another boy. I hurried up to him and saw him handing what could only be drugs — some wraps of silver foil — to his friend.
“What are you doing?” I yelled.
“F*** off,” Harry hissed.
Then he opened his holdall and showed me that he had a very large knife inside it. I took a step back in horror and felt the breath go out of my body. It was a truly shocking moment: I had been teaching a couple of years in this tough, inner-city northern comprehensive but I’d never seen a knife in school. Harry grinned maliciously at me. He stood up and stalked towards me in a menacing fashion.
“Do you get me, bro?”
“Get out, get out of my lesson now!” I screamed.
I was in a real panic. I felt like he was threatening my life. With that, thank God, he ran out of the classroom — and, I was to learn later, the school.
And that is relevant to Anne Maguire’s alleged murder, how?
The next time Harry was in school, which was nearly a week later, the VP caught up with him, checked his bag and “observed” him for signs of drug use. Then he let him go. The VP saw me at break and said that Harry didn’t have a knife in his bag and there were no signs of drug use.
“But obviously he’s not going to carry a knife into school after that incident,” I protested.
“We haven’t got enough evidence to do anything.”
“So basically you’re not trusting what I said,” I said.
“No, I didn’t say that. All I said was that we don’t have enough evidence.”
And so Harry was left to continue wandering around the school again. Nothing was done.
But it was. Harry was sent to another school. The problem was passed on.
Why do children bring weapons to school, though? Put bluntly, it is because they are often frightened.
I hadn’t fully registered back then the degree to which they were haemorrhaging teachers. To solve the problem, we need to allow teachers to talk more freely and raise concerns about what is going on in schools, before they become festering sores on the face of society.
Meanwhile, the Yorkshire Post focuses on Bucky:
PUPILS at at Corpus Christi Catholic College said the teenager alleged to have stabbed Ann Maguire was a quiet loner who was a bright, high achieving student.
One 16-year-old girl who was in one of his classes said he rarely spoke and many of his contemporaries thought he was “a bit weird”. The girl said he was an Emo devotee who posted “unusual” things on his Facebook page.
“He was in my class and he would sit on his own and just stare straight ahead,” she said. “No-one really noticed him. That’s why it was such a big surprise.” Others said he was a bright pupil from a “nice”, middle class family.
“They’re just a normal family,” a teenager said. “Can you imagine what they are thinking today? He’s a smart kid too – all top grades. He was good at drawing too.” Her friends said: “I think it’s come as a shock to everyone to hear he’s been arrested. I didn’t know who he was until someone explained and I realised I knew him. He’s just a quiet one.”
So. What could have been done, then, to precent this horror? The Post catches up with Johnny Mitchell, head of Thornhill Academy, which featured in the Channel 4 series, Educating Yorkshire.
“Schools are safe places and Corpus Christie is a safe school. It’s a good school and a safe school because Ofsted said it was – if Ofsted walked in there tomorrow, they wouldn’t say anything else, because this was an isolated incident, it could have happened anywhere. Inevitably, the debate will swing around to ‘should we have metal detectors in school’. The answer to that is obvious to me: no. The day I see a metal detector in my school is the day I retire.”
We now turn to the awful Sarah Vine in the Mail, aka Mrs Michael Gove, the Education Minister:
Looking into those smiley brown eyes, I can just imagine what kind of teacher Ann Maguire was.
She can tell that form one photo? Get her a photo of a young Osama bin Laden smiling to the camera and see what Sarah says of his character.
But Vine’s not listening. she ploughs on:
The kind who listened; the kind who understood; the person to turn to in a crisis, whether academic or personal. Not necessarily a pushover — you don’t teach four generations of pupils at a West Yorkshire comprehensive without learning a few things about the innate naughtiness of teenagers; nevertheless, a teacher with a pastoral bent.
She got all that from looking at a photo.
The boy alleged to have killed her, we understand, was a troubled loner, a goth whose Facebook page was decorated with a drawing of the Grim Reaper.
A Goth? His fashion sense did it?
Apparently suicidal, he took alcohol to school, and shunned the company of fellow pupils and friendly adults.
Or, as it said earlier, he was close to Mrs Maguire and was bright. And as for a teen drinking booze, isn’t that pretty normal? She adds:
Until then, many questions remain: why did the boy have a knife in school, what triggered the assault, could it have been prevented, how can we guard against further tragedies of this nature? There will be theory, speculation, and, no doubt, a lot of pontificating.
And columnists needing something to say to deadline, right, Sarah?
But one thing will never change: Mrs Maguire represented everything that is good and miraculous about state education in Britain.
Her death is sign of God’s love for the education system.
Her death is not only a personal tragedy for those who knew and loved her; it is also a tragedy for all those teachers who, like Mrs Maguire, see teaching not just as a job that pays the rent, but as a vocation, a calling every bit as heartfelt as that which draws men and women to the cloth.
Teaching maths is a religious experience?
And then comes the predictable. The Irish Indy has a scare story:
Boy (15) accused of stabbing teacher a fan of violent videos
The teenager, described by classmates as a “loner”, enjoyed playing Dark Souls 2, a 15-rated “death-laden” fantasy game in which a cursed character uses medieval weapons to kill others.
Such are the facts.