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Safe Classrooms

Safe Classrooms An Article to challenge and develop thinking about keeping our children physically safe in school.

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Professional Development, Educators

Tags: Safety Shooting Gun Control Dunblane Protection


March 1996; my second year of teaching. I'd brought frogspawn in to class and set it in a fish tank. The tadpoles were out and we'd been watching them all week; seeing the frogs begin to take shape; getting ready for their lives.

I came in early on the Wednesday to find them all dead, hanging still in the water, not wriggling about as they should be. Maybe the room was too warm. I don't think you're supposed to move frogspawn from a pond anyway. But I wanted my inner city Year 4s to see this happen for real, not in a book.

In a poetic irony that I will never forget, that same morning 465 miles away, Thomas Hamilton was preparing to commit the deadliest mass shooting in British History. At 9:35am he entered Dunblane Primary School with four loaded guns. Five minutes later, 16 young children, their teacher, and Hamilton himself were dead. Another child died on the way to hospital and in all there were 15 additional non-fatal injuries.

We remember those children, their families and their teacher at the end of this article, together with the sadly growing number of students and teachers who are shot and killed in what should be one of the safest places on earth - school.


By December 1997 the UK Firearms Act had been amended to ban the private possession of all cartridge ammunition handguns in response to the Cullen Report and to the Snowdrop Petition instigated by bereaved families and their friends.

Since then no school shootings have taken place in the UK.

This is not an article about gun control or a comparison of the UK context to that of our friends and fellow educators in the US and other in parts of the world - or a judgement of what is right and what is wrong. But we do need to think hard about it because it's a complex issue. In the US alone there has been and average of 1 school shooting a week since the start of 2018.

What should any teacher and school do to keep students safe from extreme physical harm? What is reasonable and practical when it comes to being the protectors of human life? What is the ultimate risk assessment?

Shelter In Place

While there are guns there will be people who try to use them in schools. Storm shelters are a concept to save lives. See how they work here. It's sad that this kind of product has to exist and a hope that they never fulfill their primary use. What thinking does this concept provoke for you?

Teacher and Protector

Nobody should ever have to face the horror of a school shooting. Hopefully our protection of students' physical safety extends only as far as breaking up fights, using workshop tools appropriately and risk assessing school trips. But when we sign up to the job - the world's greatest job - we do also become our pupils' protectors; their guardians. It's a responsibility, an honour and a task we do not take on lightly.

In Memory

Victoria Elizabeth Clydesdale (age 5)
Emma Elizabeth Crozier (age 5)
Melissa Helen Currie (age 5)
Charlotte Louise Dunn (age 5)
Kevin Allan Hasell (age 5)
Ross William Irvine (age 5)
David Charles Kerr (age 5)
Mhairi Isabel MacBeath (age 5)
Gwen Mayor (age 45) (teacher)
Brett McKinnon (age 6)
Abigail Joanne McLennan (age 5)
Emily Morton (age 5)
Sophie Jane Lockwood North (age 5)
John Petrie (age 5)
Joanna Caroline Ross (age 5)
Hannah Louise Scott (age 5)
Megan Turner (age 5)

and all teachers, students and families who have suffered as a result of violence in school.

Related Resources:

Danger Think Sheet

Danger Thinking

ICT Think Sheet - Safety


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