Death of schoolboy, 16, who was stabbed by another pupil at school could have been avoided if other students had told teachers he had a knife
- Findings published of independent review into the death of Bailey Gwynne
- The 16-year-old was stabbed at Cults Academy in Aberdeen last October
- Bailey's killer, a 16-year-old boy, was locked up for nine years back in April
- Probe launched to identify any lessons that could be learned from incident
The death of schoolboy Bailey Gwynne (pictured) might have been avoided if those who knew his killer carried weapons had reported it to staff, a review has concluded
'Unexceptional banter' led to the death of a 16-year-old boy who was knifed in the heart at school by another pupil during a 'trivial' lunchtime row, a report has said.
An independent review also concluded that Bailey Gwynne's death might have been avoided if those who knew his killer carried weapons had reported it to staff.
The multi-agency probe into the stabbing at Cults Academy in Aberdeen has made a series of recommendations, including calling on the Scottish Government to consider changing the law to give teachers more power to search pupils.
Bailey's killer, a 16-year-old youth who cannot be named due to his age, was locked up for nine years in April after a jury found him guilty of culpable homicide and carrying weapons.
He had bought the knife used to stab Bailey online without having to prove his age.
It was said at the trial earlier this year that a fight broke out after Bailey refused to give another student a biscuit, saying 'you don't want to get any fatter'.
The teenager responded with a joke about Bailey's mother, before the pair started grappling. It was during this struggle that a 3-inch blade was pulled and Bailey stabbed.
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The review, led by child protection expert Andrew Lowe, concluded the fight that took place during the school lunch hour on October 28 last year could not have been predicted or averted on the day.
But it found the course of the conflict was 'fatally altered' by the fact the killer had a knife, which could have been avoided if others who knew this had reported it to staff.
During a five-day trial at the High Court in Aberdeen, a friend of the boy said he had shown him a knife and knuckledusters he had in his possession on several occasions from the end of 2014.
Review findings: The multi-agency probe into the stabbing at Cults Academy in Aberdeen (pictured) has made a series of recommendations, including calling on the Scottish Government to consider changing the law to give teachers more power to search pupils
An independent review also concluded that Bailey Gwynne's death might have been avoided if those who knew his killer carried weapons had reported it to staff. Pictured left, tributes left to Bailey outside his school, and, right, his mother Kate Gwynne with her partner John Henderson
RECOMMENDATIONS MADE BY THE BAILEY GWYNNE INQUIRY
1. All parents should receive a letter from school at the beginning of S1, setting out the school rules and the expectations regarding weapons.
2. Pupil forums and pupil councils should be encouraged to develop safe processes to enable pupils to share their knowledge of weapons with teachers.
3. Police Scotland shall be notified of every incident of weapons possession known to a school.
4. Every incident will be recorded by the school immediately following an allegation or an incident and notified to senior managers.
5. Aberdeen City Council should work with Police Scotland to establish a "clear and effective" policy on management of offensive weapons in school.
6. Under current law, any searches must be made with a pupil's consent. Where no consent is given, the police should be notified if there are grounds to suggest a young person is carrying a weapon.
7. A search and confiscation protocol should be developed by Aberdeen City Council as part of their weapons/knife crime strategy.
8. Individual risk assessments should be completed on all individuals known or suspected to carry offensive weapons.
9. Aberdeen City Council must work with police to develop and deliver training for P7, S1 and S5 pupils to support the knife crime strategy.
10. Aberdeen City Council should work with the Ben Kinsella Trust to develop teaching resources and lesson plans.
11. The Scottish Government "should improve the resilience of schools to the threat posed by weapons and give consideration to amending the law in relation to searching pupils".
12. The Scottish Government "should explore the further legislative controls that can be brought to bear on the purchase of weapons online".
13. Aberdeen City Council's 2009 anti-bullying policy should be replaced with a policy to include the changes following the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
14. School anti-bullying policies should be written in terms of the new policy.
15. A senior teacher must be trained to respond to complaints of bullying and agree outcomes with parents.
BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING:
16. The rigour of the "business continuity plans for secondary schools" should be tested using a live scenario based on the fatal incident.
17. Regulatory bodies Ofcom and Ipso should consider the imposition of a 24-hour bar on reporting of names involved in a fatal incident to allow for the "proper and respectful" notification to relatives and those intimately affected by the event.
18. Aberdeen City Council should develop media training for members and chief officers on the management of communications during adverse events.
19. Aberdeen City Council should review the complaints policy to ensure it is responsive and expeditious.
20. A review commissioned from the Good Governance Institute by Aberdeen City Council should defer its conclusion until the Scottish Government Child Protection System Review has reported. Expected by the end of December.
21. Aberdeen City chief officers group to develop an implementation plan to deliver these recommendations and keep progress under review.
The review's conclusions state: 'This was an unplanned, spontaneous conflict that emerged rapidly out of an unexceptional banter. It is not considered that it could have been predicted or averted on the day.
'The course of the conflict was fatally altered by the possession of a bladed weapon by one of the boys.
'This was potentially predictable and avoidable if those who knew Child A carried weapons in school had reported it to staff.'
Currently in Scottish schools, pupils have to give their consent to be searched, with police notified if consent is withheld and a child or young person is suspected of carrying a weapon.
The review recommends the Scottish Government 'should improve the resilience of schools to the threat posed by weapons and give consideration to amending the law in relation to searching pupils'.
The trial also heard the knife used in the stabbing had been bought online, without the killer having to prove his age.
'The Scottish Government should explore the further legislative controls that can be brought to bear on the purchase of weapons online,' the review states.
Fatally stabbed: Bailey's killer, a 16-year-old youth who cannot be named due to his age, was locked up for nine years in April after a jury found him guilty of culpable homicide
TRAGEDY: HOW AN ORDINARY SCHOOL DAY TURNED VIOLENT
The day of October 28, 2015 started like any other at Cults Academy in Aberdeen as pupils and staff arrived.
Following morning lessons youngsters went on their lunch break, when some students would eat at the school and other, older pupils might head to the local shops.
Bailey had missed out on a lunchtime trip to the local supermarket as his friends forgot to tell him about the plan.
As the break drew to an end at about 1.20pm, the familiarity of the normal school day was violent shattered.
It was said that Bailey had refused to give another student a biscuit, saying 'you don't want to get any fatter'.
The teenager responded with a joke about Bailey's mother, before the pair started grappling.
It was during this struggle that the boy pulled out a gold and green folding knife, with a 3-inch blade, and plunged it into Bailey’s heart.
The short altercation was quickly broken up by a teacher and things started to settle down, before Bailey fell on to a wall before collapsing, a trail of bloody following closely behind him.
Soon after a member of staff appeared in the doorway of head teacher Anna Muirhead’s office to tell her something ‘serious’ had taken place.
After arriving at the scene of Bailey surrounded by kneeling teachers, his face ‘very, very pale’, she turned her attentions to another teen sat curled up in distress.
An ambulance arrived soon after, but Bailey was declared dead after arriving at hospital.
It recommends that Aberdeen City Council works with Police Scotland to draw up a 'clear and effective' policy on the management of offensive weapons in schools, and that pupil forums and councils develop 'safe' ways to allow young people to share any knowledge of weapons with teachers.
The probe also calls for individual risk assessments for anyone 'known or suspected to carry offensive weapons' and 'age appropriate' training for P7, S1 and S5 pupils on knife crime.
The review concluded that the incident had been 'well-managed' by all the agencies involved.
Speaking at a press conference in Aberdeen, Mr Lowe said the incident happened very quickly.
He said: 'It's important to understand the rapidity of this event because it all took place in less than five minutes from the meeting of the boys to the intervention of the teacher.
He added that 'several children' had been aware the killer carried weapons, and he called on pupils to act responsibly.
'Children and young people must be the key to the solution to knife crime in schools," he said. "Rights should always be balanced with obligations.'
He pressed the need for processes to allow pupils to share any knowledge of weapons safely with school staff.
Mr Lowe said: 'This was a critical matter in these events.
'We know as adults how we are nervous about disclosing information, clyping on friends, particularly if we don't think that friend has malign intent but is just showing off a little bit.
Cults Academy headteacher Anna Muirhead looks at tributes left outside the Aberdeen school
The coffin of Bailey Gwynne being carried to a hearse following his funeral last November
'We can't afford to have that belief in our children and in our schools, we must be vigilant and they must be vigilant.'
Mr Lowe also said he had considered an incident in 2007 which Child A was involved in when he was aged eight, but said that had 'marginal significance' in relation to later events.
He said it 'did not reveal a violent child but a child under very significant and continual pressure from his brother.'
Mr Lowe conducted 42 interviews in the course of preparing his 17,000-word report.
Mr Lowe said he had held a private meeting with Bailey's family on Monday, adding: 'They demonstrated their remarkable dignity, as they have every time I've met them.'
In a question and answer session with the press, he acknowledged that on one occasion before the fatal stabbing the school's headteacher was alerted that the boy was carrying a weapon on a bus - but after a search nothing was found and he concluded she had acted 'swiftly and appropriately'.
Asked why he thought some pupils felt they could not report that they were aware of weapons being brought to school, he said: 'I don't know whether they didn't feel able or whether they didn't feel it necessary.
'This wasn't a boy who they perceived to be violent or conducting risky behaviour. This was a quiet boy and his motivation for carrying weapons was understood by some of these boys as just a form of bravado.'
On the need to give senior school staff more powers, he added: 'I don't think the law as it currently stands gives sufficient support to teachers in these circumstances.
'Establishing consent (to be searched) in these circumstances can be difficult, it isn't always forthcoming, there is a duty of care to the other pupils in the class, there is an expectation to keep everyone safe, there is an expectation that they deal with many things, and frankly the law doesn't support that.'
But he said he does not believe bouncers or metal detectors at the school gates is the answer.
Police Scotland Chief Superintendent Campbell Thomson told the briefing that since November 2015 to the end of August, there had been 15 reports of knives in schools in Aberdeen.
Mr Thomson said each incident had been 'robustly investigated' and he emphasised a range of explanations, such as a knife being taken into school for an art class, to the potential that others were being used for self-harm.
Mr Lowe said he is frustrated that the full review report has not yet been published due to legal and data protection issues.
Angela Scott, chief executive of Aberdeen City Council, insisted it would be published once all the proper permissions had been sought from those who took part in the review.
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