School Climate & Safety

London Schools Wrestle With Day of Chaos

July 07, 2005 2 min read

The chaos caused by the terrorist bombings in the heart of London on July 7 prompted some schools in the area to close for the rest of the week, while others chose to stay open in a bid to avoid further disruption.

Ian Comfort, the chief education officer for the City of London school district, which includes eight schools and about 5,000 students in central London, said in an interview with Education Week that all but one of his schools remained open the day of the terrorist strike, which killed more than 50 and injured hundreds at railway stations and on buses.

Attacks on London: Coverage on Schools

A roundup of news from the U.K. on how schools have been affected by the recent terrorist attacks in London.

“Message to all London Schools” from the U.K.'s Department for Education and Skills.

“Schools Closed Following Blasts” from BBC‘s Education news.

“Schools to Close Friday” from the U.K. Guardian‘s Education section.

However, he said one primary school in his system—located about 100 yards from the Ald Gate East railway station, where the first bomb exploded while school was in session—was evacuated Thursday. The 250 students there walked to other primary schools in the area under the supervision of police and their teachers. The children’s parents were notified that they were transferred to the other schools.

After they arrived at the other schools, their teachers continued with their lessons, according to Mr. Comfort.

“By closing schools, we’d have to call parents out [of work],” Mr. Comfort said, noting that more than 300,000 adults enter central London each day to work. “What we’d be doing [by releasing students] is driving up the level of chaos. By keeping students in the building, they are safer.”

Kelly Bradshaw, a spokeswoman for the London Borough of Camden school district, which includes 55 schools, said officials there were advising schools to close on Friday, July 8.

She said movement around the borough was “very limited” on the day of the attacks. On that day, school officials were being advised to keep students on school sites until the end of the school day.

‘Soft Targets’

Mr. Comfort pointed out that London has experience dealing with terrorist activity because of the Irish Republican Army bombings of the 1980s.

Since then, school emergency plans have always accounted for the possibility that schools could be terrorist targets. “We need to take terrorist attacks alongside other types of school violence,” he said.

Most schools in London have gates surrounding their buildings, and closed-circuit television cameras on the gates that monitor people coming and going, Mr. Comfort said. Some schools have metal detectors and security officers on campus, but he pointed out that those measures are primarily put in place to deal with student violence, not potential terrorist attacks.

By contrast, schools in the United States are more leery than schools in England of discussing the possibility of a terrorist attack on schools, suggested Kenneth S. Trump, the president of the Cleveland-based National School Safety and Security Services, a school security consulting firm.

“We need to recognize that schools are soft targets,” Mr. Trump said. “Whether directly or indirectly affected by terrorism, terrorism is one of the many potential emergency situations that a school may face.”

Related Tags:

Staff writer Andrew Trotter contributed to this report.


School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety As States Fall Short on Tracking Discipline, Concerns for Equity Grow
Pandemic upheavals have left a majority of states with holes in their data about discipline in schools, potentially worsening disparities.
4 min read
Image of a student sitting outside of a doorway.
School Climate & Safety Proms During COVID-19: 'Un-Proms', 'Non-Proms', and Masquerades
High school proms are back in this second spring of COVID-19, though they may not look much like the traditional, pre-pandemic versions.
7 min read
Affton Missouri UnProm
Affton High School students attend a drive-in theater "un-prom" in Missouri on April 18.
Photo Courtesy of Deann Myers
School Climate & Safety Opinion 5 Things to Expect When Schools Return to In-Person Learning
Many schools are just coming back to in-person learning. There are five issues all school communities should anticipate when that happens.
Matt Fleming
5 min read
shutterstock 1051475696
School Climate & Safety What the Research Says 'High-Surveillance' Schools Lead to More Suspensions, Lower Achievement
Cameras, drug sweeps, and other surveillance increase exclusionary discipline, regardless of actual student misbehavior, new research finds.
5 min read
New research suggests such surveillance systems may increase discipline disparities.