LBO June 2017
We live in challenging times. After terror attacks in Nice and Paris, Brussels and Berlin, terror came to the streets of Manchester and London. We were confronted by vivid pictures of death and injury that we had hoped never to see and it felt very close to home.
And then the horrific West London tower block fire, the stuff of a nightmare, and somehow yet more shocking and terrifying even than the terror attacks.
A national minute’s silence to remember those caught up in the attacks was observed in schools of course and served to provide important moments of coming together and shared reflection on events still hard to comprehend.
If we let it, it can feel that we are surrounded by terror and that our own personal safety is at risk. Despite the scale and horror of recent events in any statistical or rational sense we are of course not. The risk of being directly involved in a terrorist atrocity is far out-weighed by the daily risk when riding a bicycle or crossing the street. It would not be unreasonable however to imagine otherwise and we have young people in our schools who are feeling more vulnerable, anxious and even frightened as a series of terrible images rolls across our television screens. That is the purpose of terrorism – to terrify.
We must value our schools as special places where we both educate our children about the wider world and prepare them to take their place in it while to a degree protecting them from it. Appalling events such as the terrorist attacks and tower block fire have illustrated just what a challenge this can be. In a class of thirty children some will want to discuss what has happened and why and what should be done next. Others do not feel ready to confront such awful things and this should be respected. We should not under-estimate the challenge in dealing with this situation.
What is certain is that never more so than in the troubled times we live in, schools have a vital role to play in providing for our children a place of safety and reassurance and a sense of normality.