MORE mentors and support staff would help prevent violence in classrooms, according to an East Lancashire headteacher.

St John the Baptist primary head Kieran Heakin, who has been attacked twice in his career, once by a former pupil and also by a parent, spoke out following the death of Leeds teacher Ann Maguire, 61.

Mrs Maguire was knifed to death in front of pupils on Monday was just months away from retiring from Corpus Christi Catholic College where she had worked for more than 40 years.

Yesterday Mr Heakin’s Burnley school held an assembly where prayers were said for the family of 61-year-old mrs Maguire.

Mr Heakin said he had been very affected by the news, but said schools cannot become ‘jails’ filled with security guards.

In 2009, he was so savagely beaten by a former pupil that he lost his hearing and had to have four metal plates built into his face. Then in 2011, he was throttled and punched in his office by a parent visiting him.

However he said more attention should be given to pupils and their homelife before problems grow.

He said more learning mentors, staff members who focus on students’ personal problems, were the answer.

He said: “What has happened in Leeds is utterly tragic and is incredibly rare. This is the only time a teacher has been killed at school and violence at that level is not a common thing.

“However lower level violence is a problem but security and check points are not the answer because of the job schools have to do. You can’t talk to a parent or a pupil through a screen.

“There is more violence because pupils’ have lives which are more difficult than ever before.”

Union leaders said other teachers shared Mr Heakin’s concerns.

Blackburn NASUWT representative Claire Ward said: “A lot of teachers are trained to safely restrain pupils but some could do with more support.

“Learning mentors are excellent, especially in difficult schools. They get to know families and pupils and spot problems before they begin.

“The world has changed. There is more verbal and cyber abuse.”