The stabbing of teacher Ann Maguire in Leeds has shocked the nation.
The 61-year-old, who was due to finish working full-time this summer, was stabbed in a classroom as she went about her job at the school she’d worked at for four decades.
Since the news broke on Monday afternoon of the stabbing there has been a non-stop media focus on the school and the pupils.
We have heard them pay tribute to a lady who was regarded as “the heart of the school” and how generations of families have been left grieving for a woman who offered them the chance of learning.
We have also heard from all manner of spokesmen and women and official bodies talking about what they believe this means.
I’m neither a spokesman or woman or representing any official body so here I go with my two penn’orth.
Plainly and simply, the incident is a tragedy.
But I don’t believe it means anything more than someone has made a terrible decision that will colour their every waking moment for the rest of their life.
Whoever attacked Mrs Maguire has robbed another family of a wife, a mum, a friend, a shoulder to cry on and much more.
They’ve also exploded their own family with a horrifying act that has sickened all right-thinking people.
But where do we go from here? Do we need pupils searched for knives? Do we need more protection for teachers?
Do we need to sit down and look at this, albeit horrifying, incident and take a moment to consider what it means in a wider context? Yes.
You’ll all have read that the last time a teacher was killed in a classroom was the Dunblane Massacre in 1996. That’s 18 years ago.
Which means none of the pupils in that building when Mrs Maguire was stabbed were even alive.
That’s how rare such an incident as this is. It happens once in a generation.
There should be no knee-jerk reaction by those in power just because there may be a clamour for it – or believe there may be votes in it.
I know it sounds a bit over-emotional to say but there is a bond between children and teachers.
They may fall out and not always get on but I’m sure you all remember a good teacher from your youth.
The one who helped you figure something out, the one who said ‘well done’ or simply the one who explained to you why you needed to pull your socks up.
That closeness has already been eroded somewhat by the age in which we live, but teachers have a huge impact in all our lives.
Teachers cannot be shut away and distant from their pupils. They must be there to influence, shape, help and guide – as well as tick off.
It’s that very open aspect to the role which helps teachers to deliver the young men and women we wish to see join our society.
To see children turn into young adults with a sense of right and wrong, a sense of responsibility and an understanding of what the world can offer them – in exchange for what they need to offer the world.
What has happened is horrible, of that there is no doubt, but it cannot be allowed to destroy the relationship between pupils and teachers.
Without that relationship we wouldn’t have fabulous teachers like Ann Maguire.