Former Master Cutler Richard Edwards, vice chair of governors at Fir Vale School, on why he believes reports of a recent riot there were greatly over exaggerated.
We are now two weeks on for the incident at Fir Vale School, which the Star’s headlines describe as a riot.
I firmly dispute those headlines, because it’s not true and secondly sensational headlines create yet more tension in the school and wider community.
Let me first deal with the incident in the school, there was a disturbance in the dinning room, it was quickly brought under control by staff, there were no weapons evident and in many respects was similar to playground fights that happen all over the country and over many generations.
The problem with this incident was the rapid speed of news, sadly much of it false.
This news was spread by the use of mobile phones and social media. This news created panic in the community among parents, which lead to a congregation at the school gates. The police were called and the rest of this story is now well known. The school has dealt with the perpetrators of the fight following its normal protocols.
We understand that parents found the events of last Tuesday disturbing and were rightly concerned for the safety of their children.
The consequences of the incident are still playing out at the school now, we have met with a number of parents already to discuss the incident and will be arranging further meetings with parents, carers and community representatives. We have also worked with our MP, local councillors, the Police, Learn Sheffield, unions, the local authority and other schools.
t is important that we help those effected, so counselling support is being provided to our pupils and staff who need it , and we have held assemblies last week involving our local councillor to remind pupils about expectations and respect.
Unfortunately when the media find a juicy news story they over milk it, this is the case here.
The press need to focus more on the community cohesion angle, rather than blaming any particular ethnic group. No one will disagree that in Page Hall there are pockets of poverty, different communities need to reach out to each other, but a co-ordinated agency response is needed which is currently sadly lacking. Perhaps the real story here is a focus on the community being let down by many so called support organisations many with taxpayer funding, which appear to be inactive.
The school reflects the community it serves, that community has a lot of underlying tensions. What the whole community needs is something to unify it, not divide it further. The most important issue for us now, is by educating young people to help build community cohesion and work as best we can in an area of the city, which has a generation of children that have the potential to grow and make a positive contribution to society.
We have a happy, safe environment for all our pupils and staff and are determined to work with the community, the police and the council to continue our important educational role.
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