Lessons and lockdowns: Cardiff schools evaluate safety measures

With all eyes on the rise in knife violence in the UK, how are Cardiff’s schools working to keep students safe?

Schools fence
Schools across Wales have lockdown procedures in place if needed. Photo of a school fence from Theilr on Flickr.

Children in Cardiff’s schools are subject to a variety of safety measures as local schools aim to tackle knife violence concerns.

Students at various schools around the city may experience a number of approaches to violence prevention, due to school-specific safety strategies following a spike in knife crime reports.

“Local Authorities in Wales work closely with the Home Office, the Welsh Extremism and Counter-Terrorism Unit and the police to ensure that schools have appropriate safety measures, including lockdown, in place to keep their pupils safe,” said a Welsh Government spokesperson. “Further guidance and training from the police is available if required.”

Most Cardiff schools have a published safety protocol that includes an option to call the South Wales Police in incidents that involve significant risk or violent behaviour from students.

Schools police Cardiff
Any local school can summon police vehicles in case of an incident.

The city is also involved in a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub, or MASH, a programme that involves police, social workers and others. It has a relationship with schools in the case of any violent incidents.

Many high schools have plans in place that include calling MASH representatives. They also regularly have CCTV on the premises to monitor pupils, a fact that has drawn scrutiny from time to time in recent years.

On top of security measures, some schools engage in safety lessons with hopes of reducing children’s likelihood to end up in a risky situation.

“For a lot of these things, like say internet safety, they’ll go to an external provider,” said Maria Prosser, a teacher at Llanishen High School in northern Cardiff.

She said the effectiveness of these safety lessons varies, adding, “Obviously they’ve been checked out, but you don’t really know what you’re buying until they come in.”

Just last month, parents alleged that their children were locked in their classrooms and hiding under desks as a school in Rhondda Cynon Taf went into lockdown following threats of violence against staff. Police were called to the school in that incident.

The Welsh Government has a nationwide policy of guaranteeing the safety of all children in school and said every school is required to fulfill that guarantee.