Home isn’t always the safest place for children
Matt Tate is a Secondary Headteacher in Kent who is passionate about keeping schools open. Matt told us that in leading his school he constantly asks himself the question, “is this good enough for my child?”
Matt has kindly given permission for us to share this content which originally appeared on his blog as I hated Christmas.
Today I have seen various comments on Facebook praising schools for closing. Commenting that this “kept children safe” and that the school was “best thing for children” ensuring “children can enjoy Christmas”.
I was initially angry, how could anybody be so ignorant, so blind, so uncaring. But it is not their fault. If your Christmases were wonderful, full of joy and happiness and great memories it may be hard to imagine something different.
I hated Christmas. Christmas was much worse than normal times as my father’s drinking was even more significant. It was a time of him being drunk, of fists, of pain and abuse.
Two long, long weeks of pain, of bruises with the added pain of knowing that this was meant to be a great time. A time of happiness. “Love and laughter… a time for rejoicing” to quote Cliff Richard. For me it was a time of wondering if this time he would go too far that actually I would end up dead. I hated school but I preferred school to home.
Talking to many of our children I know how lucky and privileged I have been.
Imagine Christmas for Billy, last year Dad sold all of his stuff. Even his dressing gown. Christmas dinner? No chance.
Or imagine Christmas for Dan. Living with 6 others in a one bedroom caravan. Christmas dinner? Well the caravan doesn’t have a kitchen so a microwave meal if money stretches.
Or how about Katie 16 living on her own. Year 11 but apparently an adult.
How about Christmas for all of those kids that will watch domestic violence, who will be beaten or abused.
For those children who live in a bedsit with no room to play or relax.
For those children who’s families have to choose between food or heat.
The risk of Covid for children is basically zero against the fact that a child in the UK a week is killed at the hand of their parents and during Covid there was 1493% increase in domestic child abuse.
Closing any school will reduce children’s safety and increase the number of children that are harmed. It may be forced on us through bubbles but I cannot understand why anybody would choose this.
This is why children keep coming to school.
That is why we stay open.
It is also why I am so proud of my staff who care so much.