There are times in this job where you are powerless and there’s little you can do to help. The news of a fire in the area that claimed the life of a female is one that strikes too close to the school for comfort.

The pupils and many of the staff have been hit hard by the death of a member of the community and it’s tough not to just pat a kid on the back or offer them some form of comfort at a time they need it. The father in me just wants to put an arm round the kids and reassure them, but because of the nature of the job and duty of care it’s best not to.

Watching these young people deal with the horrible news breaks your heart as tough kids that usually are full of banter and cheek are quiet and introspective. Grief is such an individual thing that it’s difficult to know how to react and for many today it’s just having the school provide some sense of normality for these teenagers in a world that must seem unjust and cruel. They need to know that there is a constant in their lives that will be there for them.

I’m not the best at dealing with grief myself and to watch this collective outpouring of feelings and tears leaves you stuck for words. When it’s someone close to me I can deal with it by thinking about them and reliving moments and memories of the impact they had on my own life. Here I can’t do that as I don’t know those involved well at all, but you are still part of that atmosphere and story. Grief can be selfish at times, but here I want to help or do something – but there’s nothing to be done.

Collective grief is something I’ve experienced both as a pupil and a teacher and it never gets easier to know how best to approach it no matter how many times it happens. All I hope is from the tragic circumstances that have occurred here that the bonds in the community and the school will support those who are effected by this event. The strong friendships and good will from everyone here might not be apparent at first to those involved, but over the coming weeks and months those things will be invaluable to family and friends as they try to rebuild their futures.

Thoughts are with the family.


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