Leap of Faith

In a few weeks time Evans Primary education will be over and a new chapter in his life will begin. Although he won’t be in an end of year play or experience a leavers assembly.

January 2009

As I stood reading the letter, my throat closed tightly making it hard for me to breathe.

The Local Authority had received it from the small village school I wanted Evan to attend. I had insisted a copy was sent to me.  I needed to read it for myself.

The letter explained that the staff and school governors had met to discuss the criteria from the SEN code of practice regarding the proposal to amend part 4 of Evans Statement, to name them as his placement.

It stated “whilst we are very sympathetic to Evan’s situation and have welcomed a number of children with a range of Special Educational needs over the years, we have a number of concerns” this was followed by two pages, listing the reasons they felt they could not meet his needs.

Most of which appeared to be based on an uneducated, ignorant and preconceived idea of autism rather than fact.

A conclusion had been reached that educating my son would “not be an efficient use of recourses”  nor would it be “compatible with the education of  the other pupils”

In the closing statement of the letter the Head Teacher, on behalf of the staff and governors, felt it appropriate to impart her personal opinion ”  reading the report from his last review meeting, Evan is happy and making good progress. it could be very detrimental to uproot Evan to an unfamiliar situation that he may find even less appropriate than his present one”

I stood in stunned silence. They didn’t want him.

A room full of people who had never met Evan,had decided that their school and its pupils would be better off without him. Making the assumption that he would not only be disruptive but a drain on recourses.

He had just turned five.

Of course, refusing Evan a place would have been disability discrimination. I was advised by the Education officer we could insist the school take him. However, they had made it perfectly clear he wasn’t welcome.

I wasn’t expecting it and it hit me hard.

The future I had planned  was quickly starting to disappear.

At that moment I briefly allowed myself to give in to the feeling of utter desperation that I had been working so long and hard to avoid

It all suddenly felt very unfair.

Exactly two weeks after the first paediatric appointment, Evan’s Dad walked out of his life .He has yet to return.

I had fought to get his statement of SEN in place before he started Reception to ensure his needs could be met, only for him to be failed by the local primary school within 10 weeks.

I stood and I cried. I cried about it all.

Eventually some weeks later I was persuaded by the Education Welfare officer to try another village school. We did, and for a time it worked.

However by the time Evan was 7 it had become apparent the placement was no longer appropriate. He was not receiving the support detailed in his statement of SEN and was fast becoming unrecognisable from the happy boy he once was.

I had lost all faith in the education system.

The only thing I knew with absolute certainty was that this was too important to get wrong, it was time to take action.

I removed Evan from school to home educate him.

June 2015

I stood reading the letter. My eyes full of tears and a huge lump in my throat.

Evan has exceeded all expectations socially, emotionally and academically. He is a very polite and well mannered young man with a thirst for knowledge. He is determined, dedicated and focused. He applies himself well and gives 100% to every task overcoming the difficulties he faces daily. It has been an honour to be his teacher for the last 4 years! “

It was his end of year report I had just finished writing.

I wiped my face, nodded to myself and smiled before folding it neatly and putting it in his file.

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3 Responses to Leap of Faith

  1. Heather Young says:

    Your son is a credit to you! Every thing his is down to you and your sheer grit and determination. Keep up your hard and tireless work. You should have had a gong in the honours list xx

  2. Nik says:

    Thank you for sharing this … Amazing how the phrases turn up again and again in different schools… He has such a thirst for knowledge… Word for word! And another classic… There are slower/worse/more complex children in this school (thus dismissing your child) .. Makes me wonder if there is a stock bank of phrases available.

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