A BOY of 15 was in custody last night after a long-serving teacher was stabbed to death at school in front of her pupils.
Anne Maguire, 61, died after the attack at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds yesterday morning.
West Yorkshire Police detectives confirmed the boy was in custody. Chief Superintendent Paul Money said teachers at the school had held the suspect until police arrived, shortly before midday. The teacher died later in hospital.
He said: “A 15-year-old male pupil from the school was detained at the scene by other members of teaching staff immediately after the incident occurred. The alarm was raised by students in the school, some of whom witnessed the offence.”
He said a knife had been recovered and added: “There were a number of stab wounds to the lady in question.”
The Prime Minister joined current and former pupils in paying tribute to a “legend” of a teacher, described as a “mother figure” at the school.
David Cameron said: “My thoughts are with the family of Anne Maguire, as well as the staff and pupils of Corpus Christi school, where she was stabbed to death.”
A sea of flowers started to build outside the school gate shortly after the incident.
One message read: “To a special teacher. We was all sad about it. I will never forget you.”
Kerrianne Ayward, 17, said: “She was just lovely. She was helpful and caring and you could have a laugh with her.
“She was always there for you, even if she didn’t know you very well. No-one had a bad word for her – I mean no-one.”
Kerrianne, who left the school two years ago, said: “She’s been my referee for everything – college, everything.
“There’s no-one else you would go to who’s better. She was the heart of the school.”
Peter Masefield, 18, another former pupil, said: “I just can’t understand why her, of all people. She was the school’s figurehead.”
Pupil Georgina Kilroy, 16, said Mrs Maguire had been a teacher for 40 years.
Speaking outside the school, she said: “I don’t know anyone who didn’t like her. She was spot-on. You couldn’t ask for a better teacher.”
Georgina said her own teacher had broken down when she told the children the news. She said that, before then, they had been told a teacher had gone to hospital but lessons continued.
Laying flowers, former pupil Aine Arnold, 17, said: “It’s more like losing a family member than losing a teacher.
“As long as we were happy, she was happy. She would do anything for you. She helped me personally a lot. She’s going to be such a loss to the school. Hers were one of those lessons you didn’t want to miss.
“She was just lovely. She was wonderful. I am devastated.”
Samuel Dasaolu, 18, was a pupil at the school until 2011, and he paid tribute to the teacher who had taught him Spanish and religious education.
He said: “I felt like she was almost a mother figure of the school. I felt I could go and talk to her. She made everybody feel so comfortable.”
He said he had never heard about pupils carrying weapons when he was at the school. “I can’t get my head around the fact that somebody would do that. Everybody loved her and respected her,” he said.
Mr Dasaolu, who is studying accounting and finance at De Montfort University in Leicester, went on: “She never jumped to conclusions.
“I remember there was a disagreement between a student and another student. Usually, most teachers would pick a side or say ‘You’re both in detention’. But she listened to them and discussed the situation.”
He added: “She was a teacher that was loved by everybody. You didn’t have to be a good student to love her.”
Teaching unions described the incident as “awful” and “appalling”, and pledged their support.
Leeds City Council said it was working closely with police and helping with their investigation.
There are nearly 1,000 pupils on the roll, aged between 11 and 16, according to the school’s website. It also says it has “a strong Christian and community ethos”. Dean Sean Quigley said the Corpus Christ Catholic Church next to the school had stayed open last night for people in the community.
He confirmed Mrs Maguire had been at the school since she first went on teaching practice as a young woman.
He said she had celebrated her 40th year at the school last year.
“She was just a wonderful, caring person,” Mr Quigley said. “She was head of year 11 for in excess of ten years and she was just so patient in her pastoral work.
“She was held in such immense esteem. She taught the grandparents of some of these children here today.”
Mr Quigley said the community was in shock and that he was thinking about her husband and children. Leeds Central Labour MP Hilary Benn described the incident as “profoundly saddening”, while Education Secretary Michael Gove said: “This is an appalling tragedy. My deepest thoughts go to the victim’s family, her colleagues and the pupils at Corpus Christi Catholic College.”
A stream of children and former pupils were still laying flowers outside the gates last night. Many were in tears.
Nichola Davies, 34, broke down as she tried to explain why she had driven 40 miles from Goole, Yorkshire, to pay her respects.
Mrs Davies, who left the school in 1996, said: “She was just amazing. She was such an incredible lady. It’s just so heartbreaking, it really is.”