A young colleague came to talk to me today to express how frightened she was by the terrible attack in Manchester and it struck me that this was her first adult experience of an attack of this magnitude on home soil. She was scared for herself, her own children and the school; she needed reassurance that we were doing all we could and that it was likely her children’s nursery had similar processes in place to minimise (as far as possible) the loss should an incident take place nearer to home.
It reminded me that we must not underestimate the effect that an attack such as this can have on people who you might think are too far removed from events to be effected and it also demonstrates how much we need each other in times of a crisis.
Of course, I can’t tell my colleague that nothing will happen here, but I was able to give her the opportunity to talk about her worries and I was able to explain the processes we have in place and reassure her that it was ok to ask her children’s nursery as well.
I often joke that the reason I have a standing desk is because if I sit still for long and think about my role, I would become too overwhelmed to be any use to anyone! Fear is really not an option for an SBM. When you are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of over 1000 people, the majority of whom are under 18,(even though that responsibility may be shared with other members of the SLT), the luxury of fear is not something that is useful or productive. That thick skin we grow not only protects us from some of the nonsense that goes on around us, it also gives us a shield against the enormity of our job.
I am aware that the downside of the thick skin is that I can sometimes come across as a bit austere. I’m not the most outwardly emotional person, I am a solution finder and problem solver, not a dweller over difficulties. I do try to maintain an approachability that works, for the most part, but I have to accept that sometimes I fail. That is how I cope with my responsibility.
But like everyone no doubt, I cried when I read the news of Manchester at breakfast time. I spent a quiet moment thinking of everyone involved and sending prayers, and then I went to work to check through our own emergency plans and walk the site, taking some time to enjoy the hub-bub of all our spirited young people getting on with their day.