The NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, will today make a major contribution at the Conference to the launch of the Government's guidance for schools on how to spot the signs that children and young people may be involved in gangs.
Patrick Roach, Assistant General Secretary, will tell the Conference:
"Schools are havens of safety and security for young people.
"However, where there is violence, disruptive behaviour and bullying, pupils cannot learn effectively.
"The publication of Government guidance for schools to help prevent young people being drawn into gangs and violent activity is important and welcome.
"This latest guidance builds on a raft of measures that the Government has introduced in the last few years, including new powers to support schools in tackling violence, bullying and assault and the carrying of offensive weapons. It is important that all schools use the powers they have and access the range of support that is now available.
"Research published last year by the NASUWT confirmed that gangs and gang cultures have a profound impact on the minority of young people and schools who are affected.
"Whilst the majority of schools are not directly affected by gang cultures, the reality for a small number of young people is that they may be leading lives blighted by criminality, violence and bullying.
"It is important that schools feel properly supported and equipped to deal with these problems when they arise and in building the resilience of pupils to challenge and to say "no" to gangs, violence and crime.
"Yet, according to independent research in this area, many schools are reluctant to talk about gang cultures and deny that there are any problems associated with gang cultures in there areas.
"It would be inappropriate to assume that the responses of schools were always misguided, but it is clear that a stark effect of the accountability regime in schools and of parental choice is that many schools are simply unwilling to talk about gangs and youth violence for fear that this could undermine the school's image and reputation."
Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said:
"Whilst the guidance must be welcomed, we must also work to create the conditions in which all schools are willing to engage in measures to tackle gangs and other forms of youth violence.
"The reality is that gang cultures have their roots outside the school gates and it is important that schools are alive to rivalries that might exist between young people based on such factors as postcodes, ethnic or religious identities, and to work with other local agencies to monitor and tackle these problems.
"The job of tackling gang cultures and youth violence cannot be left to schools alone. The whole community needs to face up to the realities of gangs and youth violence and work together to address the impact of these behaviours on the lives of young people. "
Notes to editors
The NASUWT's commissioned research into Gangs and Schools has contributed to the Government's work on this issue. An electronic copy is available on requestMore Articles by NASUWT: The Teachers' Union ...