Real tragedy of deprivation

I AM a wholehearted supporter of the Government's campaign to break the cycle of deprivation and poverty. I recognise that it will be a long, slow process and will take time and maybe several generations.

However, today I have had to deal with a tragedy that no family, school or community should have to deal with. A family with seven children moved into the area three years ago and have been living in overcrowded accommodation.

This morning, three of those children were trapped in a house fire and subsequently died. One was a nursery child, one a Reception child and one in Year 3. All boys.

This afternoon I had to inform staff and pupils of the deaths. We are all numb, upset and angry. A mix of emotions. We now have to support children, families and the community through the trauma.

Yesterday, we held our induction evening for new families coming into the early years unit in September. Our invitations to other services included representatives from environmental health. My last conversation was with the officers to discuss ways in which tenants in private accommodation can share their concerns about private landlords with the appropriate authorities.

It is essential that initiatives such as Sure Start, early excellence centres and neighbourhood nurseries are encouraged to support the needs of the local community.

It is not about hitting simplistic targets such as the number of adults receiving training to return them to the workplace.

Of course, this is important for the long-term strategy of addressing the economic improvement of the community.

But, in the short term, we must eradicate situations which lead to the kind of tragedy with which I have had to deal today.

Pat Wills Headteacher Claremont community primary school Westminster Road Blackpool Lancashire

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