A report into a fatal stabbing at an Aberdeen school has found it was “potentially avoidable” if teachers had been told a pupil carried weapons.
Bailey Gwynne, 16, was fatally wounded by a fellow pupil during a fight at Cults Academy on 28 October last year.
His killer, who cannot be named, was later jailed for nine years after being found guilty of culpable homicide.
The report said the Scottish government should consider legal changes to give teachers more power to search pupils.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the Scottish government would consider the findings and report back in due course.
The report said it was “an unplanned, spontaneous conflict that emerged rapidly out of an unexceptional banter”.
The trial into the 16-year-old’s death heard this involved an argument over a biscuit.
The report explains: “The course of the conflict was fatally altered by the possession of a bladed weapon by one of the boys.
“This was potentially predictable and avoidable if those who knew Child A carried weapons in school had reported this to staff.”
Amend the law
The inquiry into issues raised by the tragedy was led by Andrew Lowe, chairman of child and adult protection for Renfrewshire.
At a media conference, Mr Lowe was asked why it appeared that some pupils at Cults Academy felt they could not report that Bailey Gwynne’s killer had taken weapons into school.
He said: “I don’t know whether they didn’t feel able or whether they didn’t feel it necessary.
“This wasn’t a boy who they perceived to be violent or conducting in risky behaviour. He was quite a quiet boy and his motivation for carrying weapons I think was understood by some of these boys as just a form of bravado.”
Mr Lowe said the incident happened very quickly.
He said: “It’s important to understand the rapidity of this event because it all took place in less than five minutes from the meeting of the boys to the intervention of the teacher.
He added that “several children” had been aware the killer carried weapons, and he called on pupils to act responsibly.
“Children and young people must be the key to the solution to knife crime in schools,” he said. “Rights should always be balanced with obligations.”
He pressed the need for processes to allow pupils to share any knowledge of weapons safely with school staff.
Mr Lowe said: “This was a critical matter in these events.
“We know as adults how we are nervous about disclosing information, clyping on friends, particularly if we don’t think that friend has malign intent but is just showing off a little bit.
“We can’t afford to have that belief in our children and in our schools, we must be vigilant and they must be vigilant.”
Mr Lowe’s report makes 21 recommendations, including amending the law in relation to searching pupils, and further legislative controls on the purchase of weapons online.
Mr Lowe said it was “difficult” for teachers to get consent to search a pupil, in accordance with current law, and that consent was “not always forthcoming”.
“There is a duty of care to the other pupils in the class, there is an expectation that you can keep everybody safe, there’s an expectation they can deal with anything, and frankly the law doesn’t support that,” he said.
Asked whether he would like to see a change in the law to allow teachers to search pupils without consent, he answered: “I would like to see a scenario where senior school staff were so empowered, yes.”
In March, BBC Scotland revealed that concerns about the killer were voiced nine years ago when, as a primary pupil, he threw rocks at another child.
The incident resulted in the victim being treated for concussion.
The report said that incident “had marginal significance in relation to later events”.
It said it did not reveal a violent child but a child “under very significant and continual pressure from his brother”.
He also recommended school parents should be sent a letter setting out school rules about weapons, which should be signed and returned.
Mr Lowe said Police Scotland should be notified of every incident of weapon possession, and risk assessments carried out on anyone known or suspected to have carried weapons.
Mr Lowe met the family of Bailey Gwynne to talk through report and said they displayed “remarkable dignity”.
The full report has not been released due to legal and data protection reasons.
It is claimed the document contains sensitive, confidential and legally restricted information.
The review looked at the relationship between Bailey and his killer, as well as the educational, pastoral, health and social care services provided.
It was commissioned by Aberdeen City Council, Police Scotland and NHS Grampian after the schoolboy was fatally stabbed in a fight.
The report was originally due to be published last month but was put back.
Aberdeen City Council employed the services of PR consultancy Morrison Media Strategies to handle the release of the report.