I was shocked and appalled by the events of last Monday in Manchester. The fact that so many of the victims were children, and especially girls, given the fanbase of the singer Ariana Grande, made the attack somehow extra callous, extra horrific. I found myself thinking of the times I have waited to collect my daughters from a party, a cinema, from a night out with friends, and I shuddered. 
Thinking as head of the school, I was particularly struck by the strength and dignity of UK school leaders as they handled the sudden loss of members of their school communities under such circumstances. I heard a very interesting, and instructive, piece of reportage on BBC Radio 4 concerning how schools attempt to deal with the aftermath of such tragedies. God forbid we will ever have to deal with something similar at our school, but I learnt valuable lessons listening to the experiences of trained bereavement counsellors and headteachers in affected schools.
Events such as the slaughter of students in the Peshawar school massacre of December 2014, the attacks in Paris in November 2015, and now Manchester demonstrate the responsibility we teachers have in a school, and especially in an international school, to instil respect and tolerance that go beyond differences in beliefs, opinions, culture and colour. Alongside parents, we have the responsibility to help our children grow into citizens for the world, respectful of the rights of others, and not just followers of a single culture or way of life.
The photo with this blog entry is of a poster hanging in the reception area of our senior school. Another copy of the same poster hangs in the junior school. It was produced by the UK government’s Department for Education and says it all. 
This is my blog, so excuse the following. I have a special affection for Manchester. I was born in Manchester (my family moved to London when I was aged nearly three and children in the nursery I attended in London made fun of my northern accent), I still have family and friends living there and I lived in Manchester for a year after graduating from university. I was last there, for a week, around Easter 2016 and had the chance pleasure of chatting to “Bez” from the cult Manchester band The Happy Mondays while enjoying a curry. Manchester suffers from an unfair reputation for being cold, industrial (or post-industrial), dirty and grey. That is completely unfair. It is such a fantastic city. It has top-class colleges and universities, one of my favourite museums (The Museum of Science and Industry) and has produced some of the greatest music, football, art, theatre and comedy the UK has ever known. As I find myself saying to many parents and pupils at St. Lawrence College – there is more to the UK than London and the south-east. Manchester is pretty special.