I was talking to a ‘professional’ the other day regarding schools for ‘baby G’ and I was trying to express my frustration at not being able to find a place that is not a ‘special school’ and does not ‘have a base’ attached, instead a school with children who have special and some without.
Well this seems to be somewhat of a far-fetched idea – (please tell me why?!) I am subtly being ushered towards specialist provisions and those provisions are subtly (not so) ushering baby G towards the local ‘special school’.
The local special school is excellent – great staff, resources and all the children have needs – so they are all one community, which is lovely.
The reception class we were shown had two classes – one room for children with Autism (G does not have) so the room was adjusted accordingly, no pictures on the wall (over stimulation) they had things very ordered and controlled. The other room was for children with severe needs some of who were in wheelchairs, who needed breathing equipment and or could not participate very well socially.
Where does G fit? She is social- loves children, loves to play, likes moving about. She doesn’t have Autism and so might find the other room not stimulating enough, as well as possibly not having peers she can play with.
I have also visited a couple of bases, for which I had higher hopes. But to be honest – I felt more sad then anything. The children had their own room/part of the school just for them. There was probably 4 children in each base.
4 with the capacity for 12.
Can you imagine socialising with the same 4 people everyday? Well this is what they expect.
Playtime is separate (most of the time) lunch time is not – but they are all taken to the lunch room to sit together with a member of staff.
Well there it is – the start of children seeing my child as different from them.
This is the school systems fault.
There is no reason provisions cannot be made for children whilst teaching them with all of the other children.
This is my opinion – one that has no previous experience of teaching children or knowing what happens in class. But as a parent it is heart breaking to see the start of marginalisation – differentiations, stigmas to be aroused and nurtured.
My daughter is a child, she wants to play, laugh, interact and learn. She has a harder time doing it – but that’s not reason enough (to me) to take her and put her in a provision where she could be stunted, develop dependencies on adults, not be stretched socially and given the time and exposure to be treated the same as others.
It is at this time – schools, teachers have the chance to expose children to children with different needs – most will not fully understand and most will more likely just treat them the same as all of their friends.
Now some (and I have had ‘professionals’ say this) they don’t want her needs to negatively impact on the OTHER children’s learning.
In my opinion
1. You will be providing a far richer teaching environment and ethos if you encourage children the understanding of acceptance and difference.
2. You could be providing ‘able’ children with additional skills that could help them to develop and learn (ie Makaton, sign –a- long is a language tool, not a language) therefore children without any ‘needs’ who may have difficulties with some words could learn to sign them instead!
3. Teachers would need to adapt, evolve their ways of thinking and doing things so that children can work along side each other and have strategies in place to support a child if the teaching environment needs to change/ adapt to help them learn better.
G goes to a nursery that does exactly that – caters for both and they are an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted nursery. So why can’t this be developed for older children and spread to other schools?
Since starting nursery – G went from crawling to Walking, She is SO vocal – making sounds, mimicking, saying some words! (Hello, See you soon, Bye) now this is not all down to nursery (I was definitely a part of that awesomeness!) BUT being around a variety of children got her excited, motivated and she is doing more without being aware of trying.
Reception into school years NEEDS to mimic this!
Oh yes, sorry I got carried away – the reason this is called ‘at capacity’ the ‘professional’ I spoke about at the start of the post referred to a child, with Down Syndrome – who went to school, and by the time she was a certain age they deduced she (The age was young but I can’t recall the exact number!) had ‘reached capacity’. They felt she had essentially learnt as much as she could (according to the National curriculum) and so she needed to leave mainstream school and go to a special school to learn life skills. I was totally and utterly frightened that a ‘professional’ could refer to a child as having reached their ‘capacity for learning.
This is exactly the type of thinking I want G far away from.
She is unique. Clever. Beautiful and she can achieve anything she wants – and I need people around her who will always be pushing her to her fullest potential.
Have any of you had similar experiences while looking for schools? I’d love to hear how you went about choosing the right school for your child.