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Pupils suspended over racist graffiti

Police interviewed two pupils at Cornwallis Academy
Police interviewed two pupils at Cornwallis Academy
DAVID KEENAN: "On discovery of the graffiti, we called the police immediately..."
DAVID KEENAN: "On discovery of the graffiti, we called the police immediately..."

TWO students at a new academy school have been suspended after racist graffiti and knives were discovered in a classroom.

Police were called initially when graffiti was found on a whiteboard in a classroom at the Cornwallis Academy, Linton.

But when two 15-year-olds were searched, one was found to have two knives wrapped in a cloth in a backpack.

The graffiti was discovered by staff at 7.30am on Tuesday, before pupils arrived for the day.

The nature of the wording was serious enough for the school to immediately call the police.

An examination of CCTV footage indicated which students could have been in the area after school the previous evening.

Police subsequently interviewed two Year 11 students, a boy and a girl, and when they were searched, the knives were discovered in the girl’s backpack. Both were arrested.

David Keenan, the director of business development for the New Line Learning Foundation, which includes the Cornwallis Academy and the New Line Learning Academy, said: "On discovery of the graffiti, we called the police immediately - it was entirely unacceptable. The finding of an offensive weapon suggests we were right to do so."

The school has said the pair will be excluded at least until the completion of the police investigation.

On Wednesday, the school held special assemblies with each year group, and briefings with teachers. A newsletter was sent home informing parents of the situation.

Mr Keenan said: "We don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill. There’s no need for parents to panic or worry. Nobody was threatened with a weapon, but clearly such behaviour is completely unacceptable and the academy has acted swiftly to contain it."

Neither the police nor the school would reveal the exact nature of the racist abuse, but Mr Keenan said it was "of a general nature, not aimed specifically at anyone in the school."

Police confirmed two students had been released on police bail pending further inquiries. They must report to the police station on December 21. Meanwhile, the girl had been issued with a fixed penalty notice for a public order offence.

The academy, which has 1,600 students, has only a small proportion of ethnic pupils.

At the start of term, the Cornwallis Academy became one of the first schools in the county to receive its own dedicated PCSO, Ben Matthews, who was contacted on the discovery of the graffiti, but was unable to comment.

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