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School praised after the swift arrest of two students over threats to kill

PUBLISHED: 10:27 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:33 04 December 2017

Neatherd High School, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Neatherd High School, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Parents have praised a school in Dereham for their swift and transparent response after a pupil was found to be in possession of a kitchen knife and another threatened to bring a gun onto school grounds.

The two incidents occurred at Neatherd High School in Dereham within nine days of each other and in both cases the students were arrested by police for “threats to kill”.

They have now been released but remain under investigation.

The school responded by sending a letter to parents assuring them that their children are safe and detailing the context of each incident.

Their response was applauded by many parents who expressed their appreciation for the school’s transparency.

Sam Moore, who has two children attending the school, said: “The school actively teaches children about safety and the perils of making the wrong choices. I think that this is probably what has led to what I see as a very grown up approach to the matter by other students, especially the brave student who came forward to alert the school of the first danger.

“I do not think it could have been handled any better and hopefully the two students who posed the risk will now be able to receive advice and help from the necessary people.”

Sam Scott, whose son attends the school, said: “The school obviously had it under control with the police. It seems it’s just a silly child trying to be clever but really isn’t. My son is safe and hasn’t been bothered by it all.”

Dereham’s Mayor Hilary Bushell also responded to say that news of the incidents are “extreme disappointing”.

“It is just a very sad situation and sad indictment of where we are today. People sometimes don’t realise the seriousness of what they’ve done or what they say.”

Jon Papworth, local policing commander of Breckland North, outlined how the police work alongside the school.

He said: “We have worked closely with the school for several years as part of Norfolk Constabulary’s Safer Schools Partnership whose primary tasks are to work together in partnership to ensure the safety of pupils, staff and the school site and surrounding area/community.

“The partnership continues to work very well and is reflected by the quick actions of the school and the police when dealing with the two recent incidents.”

School head teacher ‘humbled’ by community response

Shortly after parents received the letter from Neatherd High School’s head teacher, Peter Devonish, many of them took to social media to compliment the way the incidents had been handled, as well as the correspondence.

Mr Devonish has responded by saying the school is ‘humbled’ by the support.

“We are very humbled by the volume of positive comments on our handling of these challenging incidents,” he said.

“We recognise that this has been a very difficult time for all those families affected. The school continues to be a calm, happy, hard-working community and it is very much business as usual here.

“We are looking forward to our run-up to Christmas, which includes the switch-on of our Christmas lights at the front of the school, the staff performance at the end of term and our Christmas Fayre and Music Concert. Students are also filling hampers for distribution by the food bank.”

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