Fir Vale School ‘riot’ shows community tensions haven’t gone away five years after Blunkett’s ‘explosion’ warning

Five years ago, former Sheffield MP David Blunkett said Page Hall was at 'boiling point'.

Judging from what happened yesterday, it seems those tensions are still very much bubbling under the surface.

The scene outside Fir Vale School after a riot broke out following a fight between students (photo submitted).

The scene outside Fir Vale School after a riot broke out following a fight between students (photo submitted).

A fight in the Fir Vale School canteen quickly turned into an ugly brawl, which then developed into a full scale riot involving parents trying to scale school gates with weapons.

Whatever the truth of what caused the trouble in the first place, it is clear that the school - and it surrounding area – are riven by community tensions.

A woman who worked nearby told me she didn’t want to speak to The Star, for fear of fanning the flames of an already intense situation.

And a former teacher at the school called to say that there had been fears over safety and behaviour at the school for ‘a long time’, and that she had ‘genuine concern’ for her former colleagues’ safety.

The elephant in the room in all this is the subject of race, particularly the large Slovakian Roma population in Page Hall.

In 2013, Mr Blunkett had said the influx of these migrants had caused tensions that could ‘explode’ unless action was taken to improve integration.

From speaking to parents and pupils in the area on Tuesday, it would seem that there is a long way to go to achieve that aim.

There is still a palpable sense of ‘them’ and ‘us’ in the area, with the ‘them’ being the Slovakians and the ‘us’ being Pakistani and Arabic communities whose roots in the area go back much further.

But in all the uproar, it was easy to forget people were just there to pick up their kids.

That, you would hope, is something that could unite us all.