That is two and a half years of almost constant struggle (and endless meetings) with the school reduced to just one line.
Two and a half years of trying to get them to realise that his behaviour is not naughtiness and that is is controllable, two and half years of trying to make then understand his needs (which are quite typical of adopted and traumatised children) and the correct way to address them, two and a half years of him suffering and consequently failing to get an education because of their inability to make him feel safe and calm.
Sadly, ultimately it boiled down to that one simple line and that is all that now matters for us.
The school tried – at times they tried very hard indeed – but their attempts were often misguided and sadly short lived. They would feel that they resolved one issue and another would raise its head and then they would simply give up. It has never felt that they were wanting to learn and to grow as a school, frustratingly it always felt like they were doing what was required to placate us – the frustrated, demanding parents. Without the belief that it was benefitting them too I fear that their investment into it lacked any true conviction.
We never felt we had the understanding or the assistance of the SENCO to fight our corner or from the ‘Pastoral support teacher’ who barely seemed to even understand pastoral care – so it always felt like a battle we were fighting alone and in hindsight we can see that it was one we were never destined to win.
The suggestion of finding him a ‘special school’ was made regularly throughout the two and a half years, yet nobody could tell us what kind of school he needed to be in or indeed where to find one.
Fortunately we had started looking into alternatives and had found a school that seemed to offer an amazingly therapeutic approach within reasonable distance of where we live and which does indeed put the special needs of its children first and foremost.
However we were yet to introduce ourselves to the school or indeed apply for admission for our son when on the last day of term the old school informed us that our son is no longer welcome there.
Thankfully the school we had found has been incredibly understanding and have accepted him pretty much immediately as they could see that it was a critical situation.
It’s very early days and we are fully aware that we are in a ‘honeymoon period’, however we are full of hope as so far things have been amazing. Our son is clearly at ease and comfortable in an environment that is welcoming and inclusive of his emotional needs.
They have not witnessed one issue so far and have said that his behaviour has been exemplary and for the first time in a long while he is concentrating on work and he is actually achieving.
It is a total turn around.
He is the same child, we are the same parents parenting in the same way that we always have – yet the old school just couldn’t accept that THEY were failing him and creating the environment that was so difficult for him to function in.
We are told as adopters that mainstream schools must meet our children’s needs and I understand that the government are allocating a dedicated teacher in every school who is aware of the special needs of our children and will be there to support them.
However, how well trained and how capable they will be and just how willing the school they are part of is to listen to what they have to say remains to be seen.
Our son is not a bad child, in fact family and friends around us are shocked when we share the issues that the school have been facing as they know a child who is nothing like the one the school knows.
Even if it is just a ‘honeymoon period’ which comes to an end and the new school are subjected to the behaviour that the previous school struggled so deeply with, we know that they will still not see him as a bad boy and just like we have learnt to do at home, they will see that they are doing something wrong and they will address the situation accordingly – and they will get the results required.
Isn’t that what ALL schools should be doing?