posted Thursday 8th May 2014 by Gill Robins
How can anyone begin to make sense of the murder of a kind, caring and widely respected teacher, just doing her job on an ordinary day in an ordinary classroom? How can anyone move beyond the shock and the realisation, especially given the ethos of the school, that there, but for the grace of God, go I? Yes, it was a random act, unprecedented in any school in our largely peaceful country. Yes, it was unexpected and yes, its coming was unseen and unpredictable. And that is what makes it so unsettling.
Following her death, some questioned (not for the first time) whether metal detectors should be installed in schools, to protect both staff and students. The Head of Corpus Christi Catholic College was quick to say that this was not what Ann Maguire would have wanted. Installing metal detectors in schools is like locking children in their bedroom for misbehaviour – it’s an admission of defeat.
Ann Maguire, who had taught in the same school for more than 40 years, epitomised all that is best in our education service. The subject which she taught was Spanish, but her teaching encompassed so much more than just language lessons. She taught countless students about trust, about integrity and about how to care, and she taught by the example of her life. But she understood, too, about the need for high expectations – the very highest that they could achieve, according to her pupils. Less than their best wasn’t acceptable, and many students past and present have paid tribute to her insistence that half measures weren’t good enough either for her or for them. Colleagues, too, have paid tribute to the generosity of her support and advice born out of her many years of experience in the profession. Her death is an agonising loss to those who loved her, and it is a loss, too, to her students, her school and the community which she served and in which she was so widely known and respected.
There is another irreversible loss, too, for a teenager whose life will never be the same again; a teenager whose plans and hopes and dreams may never be realised, also with a family whose lives are in ruins. Metal detectors will find knives. But they can never detect the anger or the hatred that motivates a person to pick up a tool and use it as a deadly weapon. Only God can see that: the Bible tells us ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’ (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV).
The school prayer at Corpus Christi is:
Today as we WORK together, we ask you; be with us, Lord.
Today as we LEARN together, we ask you; be with us, Lord.
Today as we PRAY together, we ask you; be with us, Lord.
Today as we GROW together, we ask you; be with us, Lord.
Today as we live our MISSION, we ask you; be with us, Lord.
Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, ‘We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us,’ (2 Corinthians 5:20) and that is why, as we live out our mission in the places where God has sent us, we will continue to work in open, caring trust with all those around us.