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    Headteacher’s News

    This week: Recent murders and knife crime in Camden

    Recent murders and knife crime in Camden

    As a school community, we have serious concerns regarding the recent shocking series of murders in Camden and their broader impact on young people. The families and friends of those young people are grieving and bereft. Our thoughts are very much with them, and we know some of them are in our school community.

    This is something we discuss regularly in school. How can we support our students during these times? What emotional help can we provide, and how do we help them to understand why such violence occurs?  Our agreed aim in terms of safety is to send a message to our students that they must be careful while out in Camden, but not fearful. We do not want them to feel scared or that the world outside is an impossibly dangerous place, but at the same time we must advise them to take sensible precautions while out and about.

    I understand parents’ and students’ concern about the effect of these dreadful crimes on the mental health of youngsters who knew the victims, and of young people who are worried and fearful about what they are seeing and hearing. To assist individual students, we have just appointed an additional mentor who is able to provide one-to-one help for students who are anxious and grieving - this is already taking place and our mentors are providing very effective support.

     

    In terms of the wider and more general support offered by the school the following is in place:

    • lessons in Years 9 and 11 on issues exploring knife crime; understanding why there has been a growth in such attacks, alternatives to carrying knives, support students can access if affected by it (2 lessons in Year 11 in October and 2 lessons with Year 9 in June)
    • workshops for Year 7, 8 and 9 with the organisation Growing Against Violence in July - about knife crime and gang involvement - https://growingagainstviolence.org.uk/programmes-option-2/
    • indirectly related to these issues, we also provide lessons in Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 on how to avoid peer pressure, the consequences of prejudice and stereotypes, the consequences of bullying, how to campaign for change on important issues, grooming, online safety and how to manage grief (and support with this).

    In the sixth form, the team has worked with students when an incident has occurred and affected students at the school - senior staff held an assembly last year after a local boy was stabbed on Bartholomew Rd. We are planning to get in a speaker for this year as well.

    We also have learning mentors and a trained counsellor in the sixth form who works with students one to one who are affected.

    An assembly on Stephen Lawrence will take place shortly, with his brother coming into school to speak to the sixth form. This follows on from an assembly I held in the main school last year with the Head Girl Team about the Stephen Lawrence charity, its aims and origins.

    We received a letter from Keir Starmer and Georgia Gould last week which I included in last week's Friday News.

    Finally, the school is supporting a new school-based project run by the local authority this year whose aim is to work with young people who are at risk of exclusion in order to try to prevent the exclusion from happening and to lead students away from gangs, crime, and older people who seek to exploit them.

    It is terrible to find ourselves in this context, and frightening and alarming for children. Please be assured that this is in the forefront of our minds and we are doing everything possible to work with students about their fears relating to this disturbing series of murders and their devastating impact on local people.

    Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have further questions.

     

    Elizabeth Kitcatt
    Headteacher