“Saying ‘it’s a learning curve’ does not make anything acceptable.”
An old Facebook post popped up on my screen, and as I read it, my head and heart were flooded with all the feelings from that time. Adam had been in school for two months.
I am sharing this because analysis of government statistics by a national charity found that ‘More pupils with statements of special educational needs or education health and care plans (EHCPs) are increasingly being “pushed out” of mainstream schools into special schools’, but there was no mention of all those who end up home educated. And there was no mention of the subtle ways that schools make parents feel that their children are not wanted.
These are copied and pasted from my responses to friends asking what was happening, because they knew that this was not an isolated bad day. I have a feeling that many will relate. Bear in mind this was just one day, in a whole series of days.
“SENCO keeps saying ‘it’s a learning curve’ in answer to every problem! Adam now has 5 outstanding homework ‘challenges’ in his file. (outstanding because they are far beyond his abilities) Another came home today. Another 5 words to learn. I shall put them with the 23 letter sounds and the other 5 words! Disabled parking space obstructed by 2 staff cars. On Monday they obstructed the lowered kerb. School disco tonight and all the others are allowed to go without their parents. Just peed off. The rain this morning has not helped!”
“They have no clue. This morning I was told by one of the office staff that the TA had parked there because there were no other spaces but that she would have moved it I asked. That would have involved parking elsewhere and taking Adam out of the car to go in and ask! At lunchtime there were 2 cars. From where each driver was sat at the point of parking, they would have been squarely viewing the A4 signs stating that it was parking for blue badge holders only.”
“As for the ‘challenges’ we brought the subject of differentiating the curriculum up at the recent TAC meeting, but “it is a learning curve!” He has been there 1 sixth of a school year and they knew all about him since last Easter yet he is still not being taught at his pace. He can’t get his form signed and get the big ‘Well Done’ that the others get. I need a few faster learners!”
“I love his TAs though.”
“Disabled space was abused again when we went to the disco. Parked further away and had to push Adam on the road due to lack of dropped kerbs. Got back to the car to find someone who has no idea what 8 feet looks like parked up behind me. Luckily I could still get the manual chair in but would not have stood a chance with the powered chair.”
“Are other schools really any better? The TAs looking after Adam are brilliant. Some of the staff are really keen to learn.”
“However, last Friday they had a supply teacher. His TAs came out with him at lunchtime and were enthusing about how brilliant this teacher had been with Adam and how fab she had been at including him. Said a lot that they noticed this. ”
“Just how much energy do I have though? Which battles do I take on? In 2 weeks we start on amending the Statement again because he is only properly funded this term. Next term they have no funding for a second person but the TAs have found that the points in the day where only one of them is needed are few and far between.”
“On Monday the new physio is going in to train the TAs in putting Adam in his mobile stander. She has only actually seen me put him in it once and has never done it herself before.” (yet they could not have training from me – the person who did it daily!)
“Then there is the toilet. Adam is the only physically disabled person in school (confirmed by his TAs that he is the only person who needs to use it on a daily basis) yet someone keeps going in, moving his special toilet chair and not putting it back. The TAs say it adds about 2 minutes to toileting time as there is not much room to manouvre things when the powered chair is in there. I took him in to the toilet tonight and had to position his chair before he could go. Putting the 4 brakes on the chair when it is in position is a bit difficult. Adam is starting to ask for the toilet in school time and when he says he needs to go he means now, not when you can get the toilet chair in position.”
“It just says to me that people at school do not respect disabled people. I spoke to the office staff at lunchtime as I parked blocking in the two cars (not Blue Badge holders) obstructing the disabled space. I made it clear that I did not expect Adam to be treated this way by staff in his own school.”
Friends suggested that I change schools but we had invested so much time in this one, although he had only attended for two months, there was nine months of work with them so far.
Eventually we took him out of school and have home educated for 5 years. It isn’t for everyone and it isn’t easy, but it is the best thing for our son. He is accepted, loved and wanted within home education groups, and nothing is ever a problem.
I wish I could advise families to keep battling, to keep arguing till a school gets it right, to keep reminding them not to obstruct Blue Badge spaces, to teach their child at their own pace, but I can’t. Because I know how hard it is.
Sometimes it is best to start afresh, find a new school or even a whole new way of doing things.
But no child should be “pushed out” of mainstream school.