War and schools

21st March 2003 at 00:00
As we went to press this week, the citizens and children of Iraq were bracing themselves for a terrible onslaught while we in Britain find ourselves committed to a controversial war to which most are opposed. That conflict is thousands of miles away. But it is viewable almost every minute of the day. Television has brought a new meaning to the term "theatre of war". Its images may even provide audiences with a wider picture of the action - or at least the visual highlights of it - than that experienced by those fighting through the dust of the Kuwaiti desert.

Even on the home front, UK schools deemed vulnerable to terrorism linked to the war are having to contemplate direct attacks (page eight). Others will have anxious children with relatives in the armed forces. And almost every school needs to be ready to allow pupils to share and confront their feelings and to counter any friction between Muslims and non-Muslims which some will use this conflict to exploit.

Teachers now have to draw on their deepest reserves of professionalism to set aside their own strong feelings in order to provide whatever perspective, comfort, understanding and empathy their pupils need.

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