I apologise in advance for the very log blog – you have been warned!
Spud started senior school this September. I knew the transition was not going to be easy so wanted to ensure I had planned, prepared Spud, the new school and myself as much as possible.
When Spud was in year 5 I went and visited the local secondary school. I went to the open evenings, attended the open mornings, looked at their websites, read their polices and looked up the Ofsted reports. I made appointments and visited the SENCO’s.
When Spud was in year 6 I took him with me to visit a couple of the schools. Spud loved the very local school while I preferred the smaller school just out of town. Watching Spud come alive at the open evening for the local school, engage himself into all the activities and look so happy, I decided to go with the local, requiring improvement school.
I know at this many of you will be shouting at the screen – “crazy, mad, what were you thinking?”
I have had so many sleepless nights, tied myself up in knots and really did not know which way was up over choosing a school. I arranged meetings with the SENCO, the year head, the deputy head the head teacher. Had a meeting with the forum tutor and the PP manager. At each meeting I was open and honest, gave notes on Spud and attachment disorder. I explained that academically he was flying but emotionally and socially was far behind. Fought for the PPP money to be spent supporting his needs instead of it going into the big pot.
School attended training by the amazing Helen Oakwater and I arranged a detailed transition program and we went into the summer holidays with hope.
Spud started at the school and within the first 2 weeks I had a call from the new year head. She wanted to put Spud in isolation but knew nothing about his past. I emailed the deputy and the head teacher as I was so cross that key communication had not been passed on. How could putting a child with attachment disorder into isolation work?
I was promised it would not happen again.
Yes you have guessed right – it did!
I was invited to a SEN target meeting and the assistant head kept calling Spud “chip”.
I asked him he he had met Spud – No was his answer.
I asked him if he knew about Spuds past – No was his answer.
I walked out of the meeting and sat in the car upset and frustrated for 40 minutes. I emailed the deputy and the head and again was promised it would not happen again.
Yes it did!
Detentions, warnings and total lack of understanding followed.
Art homework – bring a photo in of you before you were 7 years old (Spud was adopted at 7.5 years)
History homework – draw a timeline of all the events from birth until now.
All very basic things that the school could have got right.
Then another call …….
This time it was a call from the behavior support manager who was asking to meet me to put a plan in place for “Mash”. She thought he may need extra support. Of course no communication or information had been passed on to her. At this I lost my temper, told her to warn the deputy and the head i was on my way and to make sure they were ready for me. Fortunately for the Head teacher he was out for the afternoon. The deputy greeted me and took me into the heads office. I then had a tantrum, stomped my feet and cried. At one point I thought my head may spin round. I asked how this could happen again? I also asked for a TAF to be arranged with every member of staff involved in Spuds education to be present. All could hear the same information and a clear plan put in place.
In the first half term I have –
Given school notes and handouts,
Given the school training notes from the virtual school
Arranged advisory teacher training that the school have cancelled
Attended numerous meetings
Stomped my feet
Felt a failure
Schools can make a difference
Schools can change
Schools can support but
Schools need to want to do the above.
So where are we now? I really don’t know. Had another meeting yesterday with the Senco and was told that I am a “unique” mum that I have chosen to take as a compliment. Apparently half the teachers are starting to come on board and understand but the others are not. The Maths teacher is complaining that she is teaching the back of Spuds head. She will not move Spud from the front of the class where the “naughty” pupils sit to the back of the class. Spud is hyper Vigilant and needs to sit at the back where he can watch the class and start to feel safe.
Spud has been let down, he has had more loss. change and trauma than any child should ever have to suffer. I am campaigning my LA to increase the remit of the virtual school to post adoption order.
As we all know, the adoption order is not a magic wand.