After watching the channel 4 Dispatches Program and feeling utterly disgusted, it’s taken me a while to think rationally about what I want to write on the subject.
Having 4 children with a range of needs, nannying and childminding for many children, working in mainstream nursery’s and schools and also in special needs schools, I have had a real insight into our education system over the last 25 years.
I have supported so many parents and children who have been completely crushed by the system. When I say crushed, I mean their whole lives completely destroyed! I know of children as young as 5 wanting to kill themselves, children of 10 attempting to kill themselves and children of 14 actually kill themselves.
The very system that was put in place to ‘ensure equality’ for all children. A system which would ‘enable’ all children to become successful, working adults within our society. I too have been one of those parents who have been crushed, not once but twice by this system.
I will tell you about The first time in this blog.
Aiden who is now 18, was out of school for 10 months aged 11 because there was apparently ‘no space’ in the only special school which could meet his needs. In that 10 months not one person from education questioned his welfare! Not one person from the education department (Local Authority, LA) provided or even questioned his education!
Just remember, this is the same system that takes you to court if your child ‘skips school’ (suicidal or not) and the same system that fines you for taking your child on holiday!
After 10 months of radio silence, deadline day arrived, that was the LA’s deadline day according to policy. However, this deadline was only in place because I fought the system. It was the day before our tribunal was due to take place and all of a sudden, miraculously, out of the blue a place suddenly became available in the school! Funny that! (Tribunals cost the LA a lot of money!)
That 10 months was the hardest 10 months of my life! And as you’ll know by my blogs my life up until then was far from easy.) I was unable to work, financially broke and desperate for Aiden to go to school. Equally, Aiden was desperate to be at school! I did not choose to keep him at home, I did not choose not to work, I did not choose to go to tribunal. I had no choice!
To have a disabled child, who needed routine, who was desperate to fit it, who had no friends, who was completely dependent on me 24/7 for every single, day to day task and did not understand why he couldn’t go to school was sheer hell. On top of that I had to trawl through paperwork, beg professionals to write reports, learn the law and gather evidence as if I were a criminal whilst still keeping it together for the sake of my family. I had to prove that my son was worthy of going school. The stress that this caused, not just for me but for Aiden, for my marriage and for the rest of my family was beyond immense. I then had to prepare myself, to be brave enough, to stand in a court of law and fight for my son!
Life is hard enough when you have a child with a disability, nobody should be expected to fight a system that was put in place to support people.
So to watch the Dispatches Program portray families in such such a flippant way makes my blood boil.
The children’s commissioner – (the very person who should be enabling children and their families to access an appropriate education) had the chance to investigated why thousands of children are missing out on an education, she had the chance to help schools, to help families and more importantly to help children but instead she implied to the nation that parents who homeschool their children could be abusing them!