Closed petition Make knife crime prevention a compulsory requirement for all school curriculum

The James Brindley Foundation wants to see schools educate children in a program of consequential thinking, that speaks openly in the use of knife crime.
The Dept for Education is reviewing the RSHE curriculum; our petition asks the DfE to introduce knife crime prevention to this curriculum.

More details

Deaths, serious injuries occurring amongst young people has become a pandemic on our streets. The ONS states recorded knife crime offences increased 10% to 49,027 year to March 2022 in England and Wales. This is a 34% increase since 2010/11 yet there is no national program of education for children and young people, and no targeted guidelines in the curriculum for such behaviours or prevention.

After meeting with MPs, local government and other agencies, the JB Foundation is calling for ACTION.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

10,236 signatures

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Government responded

This response was given on 5 October 2023

DfE will shortly consult publicly on draft amendments to the RSHE statutory guidance before a new version is finalised and published in 2024. DfE will also consider this petition as wider evidence.

The national curriculum is DfE’s responsibility. DfE has made a commitment not to make any changes to the National Curriculum for the remainder of this Parliament, which was reiterated in the Schools White Paper last year. This was to embed the major 2014 curriculum reforms and to provide stability for schools and pupils following the pandemic. It also is an important commitment for teacher workload, given the workforce burden associated with curriculum change(s).

However, RSHE, which sits within the basic school curriculum has, since 2020, included content on the situations that often lead young people to carry weapons such as knives, including criminal exploitation though involvement in gangs and county lines drugs operations and in particular the grooming relationships that often accompany this. The RSHE curriculum does not reference knife crime explicitly, but schools have discretion to tailor the content of the curriculum to address the threats that face their pupils specifically.

Issues around gun and knife crime can also still be taught as part of a school’s wider curriculum. For example, schools can choose to include lessons on weapons awareness and gangs as part of their Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) or Citizenship curriculum.

More generally, through RSHE, pupils are taught how to build positive and respectful relationships and appropriate ways of resolving conflict, including a clear message that resorting to violence is never acceptable. Pupils need to know how to be safe and healthy, and how to manage their academic, personal, and social lives in a positive way.

It is important that teachers have the confidence to teach RSHE effectively, and to help schools with this we have already published a range of online Teacher Training Modules- - covering each of the key subject areas, including Respectful Relationships, Being Safe and Internet Safety and Harms. We have also delivered training for schools, webinars and conferences.

DfE is undertaking a review of the statutory guidance on RSHE, which sets out the curriculum, and will be consulting publicly on draft amendments this autumn, so interested parties will be able to contribute comments and suggestions on knife crime prevention. We will take responses into account in finalising content before publishing final guidance next year. We will also consider this petition as wider evidence.

For those children who are most vulnerable to serious violence, including knife crime, we recognise that more intensive support may be needed in and around their schools. That is why DfE is investing over £50 million to fund specialist support in both mainstream and Alternative Provision (AP) schools in the areas with the highest numbers of serious violence offences. In mainstream schools, school-led SAFE (Support, Attend, Fulfil, Exceed) taskforces have been established in 10 areas and are investing in evidence-based interventions (such as mentoring) delivered in schools. The Alternative Provision Specialist Taskforces (APST) programme is piloting embedding teams of specialists including mental health therapists, speech and language therapists, youth justice workers and family workers in 22 AP schools.  

Department for Education

MPs debate knife crime

MPs debated knife crime on Thursday 14 December, in the House of Commons. During the debate MPs discussed the actions the Government is taking to tackle knife crime, and what more could be done.

The debate was led by Wendy Morton MP. Michael Tomlinson MP, a Minister of State from the Home Office, responded for the Government. The debate was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee.

What are backbench business debates?

Backbench business debates give backbenchers (MPs who aren’t ministers or shadow ministers) an opportunity to secure a debate on a topic of their choice, either in the Chamber or Westminster Hall.

MPs can make a request for a debate to the Backbench Business Committee, which hears and decides which debates to schedule.

Backbench debates can either be general debates (which do not end in a vote) or be on a substantive motion (which calls for an action and can end in a vote). This debate was a general debate.

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