On Friday 26th March, Mrs Boorman, who is Head of English at Charters School in Sunningdale arranged an inspiring lesson for Year 10 English students who are currently studying the work of the poet Simon Armitage. One of the poems that students examine during Key Stage 4 is ‘Remains’ which Simon wrote in 2007 and is based on the experiences of a soldier who served in Iraq. The soldier suffered severe PTSD as a result of his experiences and the poem recalls one particular event and the resulting flashbacks he experiences.

To help the students understand the effects of PTSD, Mrs Boorman arranged for a Captain in the British Army to talk to the students about his career and the effects that active service can have on serving personnel. The lesson took place on Teams and students were able to ask a number of probing questions, including whether the Captain was able to empathise with the enemy, what support there is for people with PTSD and whether attitudes have changed towards people who experience this condition.

Simon Armitage was a Probation Officer with the Ministry of Justice before he became a poet and Mrs Boorman invited her father to join the lesson as he has worked in this profession for the past 30 years. It became clear that Parole Officers are an integral part of an offender’s rehabilitation and that there is a need for people in this career to decompress after hearing harrowing accounts of crimes to ensure that their mental health is protected.

The lesson allowed the students to frame the poem in a wider context and the school would like to thank both speakers for generously taking part.

Mrs Boorman said, “We are so grateful to our two guest speakers who spent time with our Year 10 students and their teachers. Both professionals talked about their experiences, either working within the Criminal Justice system or the Armed Forces, with such honesty, clarity, and sincerity. They offered our students the chance to broaden their contextual understanding of the long-lasting consequences of PSTD, which will really benefit them with their analysis of Conflict poetry. One of the benefits of 'remote learning' is that we've recognised how technology can help teachers arrange these events quickly and easily - beaming in speakers from all over the country at the same time to a wide audience!”