Suffolk education centre in 'gun threat' inquiry shut down

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An education centre in Suffolk where a teacher is alleged to have threatened a pupil with a gun has been closed down.

The BBC has learned that the centre, which cannot be identified for legal reasons, had not been registered with the Department for Education (DfE).

Police are investigating allegations that threats involving a gun were made at the centre on 4 March.

Suffolk County Council said it had closed the centre while the alleged incident was investigated.

Police were contacted on 8 March by a member of staff at the unit, which teaches children with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Antique weapon

The staff member told them students said that a teacher had brought a gun into class four days earlier.

Police visited the centre, speaking to staff and students, but said they had initially treated the incident as "a light-hearted lesson".

Officers searched the teacher's home and a decommissioned antique weapon was surrendered for further inspection.

Police said the teacher had been questioned and given "words of advice".

But on Thursday, police said they had received new information from Suffolk County Council education officials, and were investigating an alleged threat.

A police spokeswoman said investigations were continuing and that staff and students had been spoken to.

'Not illegal'

The centre opened in 2008. A council spokesman said it educated 19 children in total, but only 12 at any one time.

However, the BBC has learned it was never registered with the DfE.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said the authority had been "in the process" of registering the centre.

"We had an agreed timeline with the Department for Education which set September 2013 as the deadline for registration. Ofsted was aware of this," he said.

"It was not, therefore, illegal to operate this centre without registration.

"In any case, we have now closed the centre during the investigation into this alleged incident.

"We are making alternative arrangements for the young people to continue their GCSE studies. This will include one-to-one tuition."

A DfE spokesman said: "Councils are required to register all state-funded education providers with us. We are currently looking into the specifics of this case."

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