Thursday, 6 November 2014

What it looks like when the system is broken

I write this article as a woman who has said a sad goodbye to her good friends and waved them off to their new life outside London.
I write this article as the mother of a little boy who has lost his best friend to a new school and his new life.
I write this article as a mother with a special boy who hasn't yet applied for a statement, depressed and disheartened about how broken the system seems.
This system that has caused my friends to have to sell their house in order to give their special boy a future, because nobody here in the LEA wanted to help him to have one.

What is a parent to do when a child who has spent years trying and struggling is refused an assessment?
What is a school to do when the LEA receive an authoritative and impassioned argument and request for help, yet decide not to consider the support these wonderful teachers need for this boy?
What is a parent supposed to do when the extra lessons, the hard fought for diagnosis, the therapies and battles over homework, the support system of his peers, and their parents, isn't enough to help him to fulfill his obvious potential?
What is a school to do when a teacher, one teacher in a class of 30 kids of mixed abilities and numerous languages, disparate needs and various challenges, cannot devote enough time to this sweet, sensitive boy whose confidence takes a battering day after day?
What is a parent to do when the appeal fails again and the future suddenly, depressingly, has to be taken into their own hands?

I'll tell you what they do.

The school resign themselves to a broken system, but do so quietly in the safety of their classroom, hoping the next one will be different.
And the parents battle to write Plan B and upend their lives in doing so.

I suppose the authorities would say that these are the lucky ones, who can sell a house and find a new one, who can source and fund an amazing bespoke school who exist to make up the lost years for children like this.  These lucky parents who have jobs that might bend and lives that can be picked up, well they don't need the system, so it's probably all for the best.

What they don't realise is that just because you can find a way to reorder your whole life, doesn't mean you should.

Anybody who met this sweet boy could see that all he needed was support, someone to help him focus and achieve his potential.

That support was there from the teachers and school, but the structure and system that is there to bolster these professionals let them down too.  Everyone who had genuine power for change shirked and shimmied and from where I'm standing, didn't give a damn.

So my friends, these smart educated parents, who attempted to work in the system as it stood, made one mistake, which was to assume that any of it worked properly at all.

They decided not to cheat or shout or deceive, but to hope and  trust instead.  Trust that the LEA would listen to the teachers, or psychiatrist, or ed psych or any of the other professionals put in place, and be lead by their conclusions.

The result of that trust was that after a string of refusals, delays and the loss of any hope that things might change, my friends had no choice but to cancel Plan A.

To move away and find a new way, two new schools, four new futures far from where they thought they would build their lives.

Shame on you Barnet LEA.
Shame on this new system that is as broken as the last.
Shame on you all for quietly removing yourselves from the responsibility of the children in your care and assuming no one would notice.

We do, and so I repeat
Shame On You.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

To do or not to do lists

this is a first

getting up from a busy head that won't let me sleep
eschewing the post it note and pen that scribbles the items on the list that usually helps me to clear enough space to sleep
and coming here, to the spare room, opening my laptop, and writing a blog I keep forgetting to come back to sufficiently for any kind dwindling readers to continue to pop by

my work days are full of notebooks and slate lists and highlighter pens and diaries and nearly enough hours in the day if I can just string enough minutes together to make up those hours

my home days are full of the stuff of menial life like eating, shopping, organising the family, the diaries, the dates and distraction techniques for when daddy next travels, and the childcare extras for those times due to not having managed to clone myself yet.

around this, the gaps forced open for the things that make me smile, like exercise and helping at school and blitzing through the replies to the emails marked unread, the family history just beginning and oh and the lovely bits of writing and charity work that are beginning to have a life of their own.

then there is my constant need to clear the clutter of drawers and cupboards and toys and clothes, in order to streamline our lives.  that urge doesn't seem to be going any time soon.

and the next series of Orange Is The New Black is waiting for us, our current joint happy sofa viewing, squashed into the weeks that we are both in the country and awake

lists and more lists to achieve and ignore

and a tired blog post from somebody who really should be asleep