DfE reviewing security advice for schools following terrorist attacks

The Department for Education is reviewing its security advice for schools in the wake of last year’s terrorist attacks.

The news follows calls from unions and security experts for the government to give schools information about whether they should practise lock down procedures in case of an emergency.

Labour peer Lord Harris of Haringey, a former member of the Police Counter Terrorism Board, last week asked ministers “what measures they are taking to protect nurseries and schools from terrorist attacks”.

Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford told peers: “Clearly, the last year has been unprecedented in terms of security generally and our schools are no less vulnerable.

“The DfE is currently reviewing its health, safety and school security advice, giving consideration to how guidance material can improve advice that is given to schools.”

She later said that the department was working with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, and had had expert advice from the counter-terrorism policing unit.

In a 2016 report on London’s readiness to respond to a major terrorist attack, Lord Harris called for all schools in the capital to have a governor “responsible for ensuring security and terrorism preparedness”.

He told peers that the government had rejected that recommendation, saying that it would leave it to individual schools.

Former Labour home secretary Lord Reid pushed the minister on Lord Harris’s recommendation, saying that if a school was targeted by terrorists, the advice “would be implemented within the week”.

“Is it not better to concentrate on prevention rather than afterwards?” he asked, adding: “At a time when it is obvious that the terrorists are now moving towards soft targets, schools are among the major soft targets that should be protected.”

In response, Baroness Williams referred to the government’s Crowded Places Guidance, and said it was a matter for school governing bodies.

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