The other night I woke up smiling with a sense of relief and overwhelming happiness, because I had just had the most wonderful dream.
In the dream I had taken my son to an amazing new school I had heard about, the teacher greeted us smiling, patted my hand and said, “It is ok I got this”. She had turned to my son and said “I understand you must be frightened but it is ok, I promise you, you will not be expected to do anything you can’t do, if you need help I will always be listening”. My son walked off with the teacher into the building smiling and didn’t look back.
I woke up with a feeling of peace washing over me.
Only a SEN parent who’s child has been failed by school would get why this was such an amazing dream, to any other parent their child going to school is just an everyday thing. Just the normal run of the mill stuff, all children go to school with minimal issues right?
Well not so to us on the fringes looking in. Yes we too set off with our 4-year-old wearing their all new slightly too big uniform one cool September morning, full of hopes for our child just like all you other parents. Our child nervously clutching our hand just like all the other children. But for us that day was perhaps the last day or the last week or the last year we or our children would feel just like everyone else because things began to unravel.
We did all the normal things like bake sales and school plays, homework and reading, but for us it was that little bit harder, for us there was also the worried conversations with the teacher or the being called over to be told something privately at the end of school.
The other parents were probably unaware, at least at first, at our requests for extra help or us fighting back the tears at parents evening, they didn’t know our child was not thriving. Sometimes they might pass comment about how ‘quirky’ our child was or that he was a ‘sensitive soul’ or a ‘bit of a worrier’ but unless our child was the type who hit out in their struggle to do the usual things then they wouldn’t notice, why would they?
No for most parent school is just life with children, and. for most children school is just somewhere they go each day but, for a small but significant number of us, school is where we feel we failed our children and we dream of putting that right.
We fought so hard to get them the right support, we went to so many meetings, we wanted so badly for them to succeed and thrive but they just couldn’t, not without the understanding, not without the right support, not without the school and every person in it having the will to get behind that…
So eventually school broke down completely for us and our child is now taught at home. That may be working out well or it may be a struggle but either way we are left dreaming that one day a school will open that is just right, that listens, that understands, that supports and nurtures.
So many times I went to meetings and cried walking past the playground, wishing my son could enjoy this pretty country school instead of being at home terrified to attend but wishing he could at the same time.
So despite home education working well for us I still dream at night of my sons face looking like every other child’s face, happy and relaxed as he enjoys school.
The worst thing about feeling this is an impossible thing is that it could be possible, if only the powers that be stopped telling us that it already was and actually looked at how the system is, in reality, failing our children.
Until then I will have the sense that I failed my child who wanted so desperately to go to school and be ‘just like everyone else’ even though I know in my heart it is a broken, underfunded and discriminatory system that has failed US.
I will keep on fighting though because I still have a dream.