School Climate & Safety

London Schools Wrestle With Day of Chaos

July 07, 2005 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Includes updates and/or revisions.

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.


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
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
Teaching Live Online Discussion Seat at the Table: How Can We Help Students Feel Connected to School?
Get strategies for your struggles with student engagement. Bring questions for our expert panel. Help students recover the joy of learning.
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.
Science Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation

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 Opinion This Is What Happens to a Student’s Brain When Exposed to Gun Violence
Traumatized and hypervigilant brains cannot learn effectively, write a behavioral neuroscientist and a school psychologist.
Amanda M. Dettmer & Tammy L. Hughes
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of a lone figure standing in a sea of bullets
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Jorm Sangsorn/iStock; Getty images
School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center What Would Make Schools Safer? Here's What Educators Say
Respondents to a national survey of educators said measures like red flag laws, more school counselors are key to any school safety law.
7 min read
Photograph of crime scene tape and school.
F.Sheehan/Education Week and Getty
School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center 'The World Feels Less Stable': Educators' Sense of School Safety Right Now
6 in 10 educators said a mass shooting by a student or outsider was their biggest source of fear.
7 min read
Woman standing on a paper boat with a tsunami wave approaching.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School Climate & Safety Texas Top Cop: Uvalde Police Could Have Ended Rampage Early On
The head of the Texas state police pronounced the law enforcement response an “abject failure.”
5 min read
FILE - Law enforcement, and other first responders, gather outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting, on May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Law enforcement authorities had enough officers on the scene of the Uvalde school massacre to have stopped the gunman three minutes after he entered the building, the Texas public safety chief testified Tuesday, June 21 pronouncing the police response an “abject failure.”(AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, File)