Ok first of all. This post is not the original post I wrote for this weeks’ #WASO. I appear to have some how lost it on my journey to Birmingham at the beginning of the weekend. Hopefully it will turn up at some point, but enough about my ditsy brain.
Since returning to school at the beginning of September, relationships with Buzzbee’s school have been nothing short of stressful for all involved.
It would be so easy for me to write long angry paragraphs, stating in explicit detail every mistake they have made, but it wouldn’t help either Buzz or them, and heaven knows I don’t need to stress myself out any more than I am. So why am I writing this?
A short while ago another emergency meeting (PEAR) was held to review Buzz’s statement and Bumble went in my place (I recently I found it difficult to contain my emotions long enough with one head-teacher – 14 professionals no way!).
At the very beginning of the meeting Buzz’s head teacher threw a curveball into the purpose of everyone being there. She FINALLY admitted that his needs were too great and that they no longer felt that they were being fair to him. She told the professionals that although she and her staff were committed to him, she feared that without specialist input he would eventually end up being permanently excluded.
Although we do challenge her analysis that `his needs are TOO great’, we do feel that they are in completely over their heads. Despite all the training and advice they have been given, the staff still appeared to be ill-equipped (it does feel sometimes more like they weren’t even trying). They wanted a nice compliant little boy who trusted them, who they could understand, and who would be a joy to teach.
What they got was a very mistrustful, frightened, emotionally unpredictable, avoidant boy whose fear of failure they had activated. They had encouraged his avoidance of learning for so long because of their own fears of his emotional outbursts and the repercussions they were having within the school community. They had got their selves into a difficult situation and didn’t tell us until he was so far behind that they were all trapped on the hamster wheel of shame and despair. By the time we were told, even we were lost for answers.
Anyway fast forward a few weeks to the present time. Since this meeting things have moved on, a SEN panel did agree to look for a more specialist school for him, but they openly admitted there is nothing around for him.
Hmmm, this is where it all gets a bit messy, and please forgive me if the rest of this post is a little disjointed or rambling. I want to keep my feelings of anger at how he has been let down by so many people in his life in check for a minute, but at the same time I am currently feeling very emotional about the whole situation, and about the difficult decisions Bumble and I have had to make in order to support our youngest child.
As I said within our area there is no provision for 7 year old boys who need that extra input but do not fit into any of the SEN criteria or are too young to attend a specific school. The only school that they ‘plucked out of a hat’ was a school in a different LEA that is a primary EBD school, which in all honesty would have traumatised him even more (if we thought an EBD school was appropriate, we would be fighting to get him into Beeswax’s school).
Ok, rambling again. Anyway, this school is oversubscribed, so I needlessly had to make myself even more unpopular than I already was by voicing my concerns about their suggestions.
Rather than keep waffling I need to get to the point.
After several weeks of toing and froing, and an overly complicated flexi-schooling timetable, which school were constantly adjusting, so some days even I couldn’t tell which end was up, let alone poor Buzzbee trying to manage all the changes and different transitions.
I am not saying that the whole flexi-school plan was completely useless or that none of it had a positive effect on Buzz because a couple of the alternative learning activities have been great and not only has he come home happy and chirpy, rather than showing his usual resistance to go somewhere, he is not only eager to get to his destination in the morning, but he also doesn’t want to leave at the end of the day. One of these activities is a forest school and he adores it (although this shouldn’t be a surprise to me – he is an outdoor child after all). He also loves his hour with the ponies each week, but sadly this is coming to an end as it is only a short-term programme.
Back to our big decision! Bumble and I have decided to formally remove Buzz from school and I will, for the time being, educate him at home until a time when we feel he is ready to return to school.
Am I mad?
Maybe! Both Buzz and Beeswax are hard work and the only time I really get a break is when they are at school, but in reality at the moment I am not even getting that with meetings for the boys and transporting Buzz here there and everywhere, on top of needing to cover school work with him on the hours/days that he is not in school. I have had to be his mum and teacher but without the pay.
Do I think we have made the right decision?
Definitely – we couldn’t let it go on any longer. Not only was his education being damaged but more importantly the current situation was having a dramatic and damaging effect on his social and emotional wellbeing; and his self-confidence and self-esteem have hit rock bottom.
Will we come up against a lot of resistance and criticism for our decision?
Probably! Buzz himself at some point will buck against the idea of having to work at home but I can soften him with the knowledge he will still be able to attend forest school. My guess is the LEA will not be very happy and will try to make my life difficult for me for a while, and all I can say is “bring it on”! Thankfully both our families understand why we have taken this decision and are fully supportive of it.
I am actually quite looking forward to the challenge. Hey, you never know -maybe I will learn something new. What are my chances of being able to avoid covering Dinosaurs?
Although it is the right thing for us to do, it is bittersweet because it is not what we really want for him, but we feel we have been forced to do this, in the best interests of our child.
And so begins a new chapter for our life in the hive.