Monday, 13 May 2013

A dot on the Raiseonline....


For the first 8 years of your life you were neglected and abused by everyone at home that was supposed to care for you.  This was normal life and you didn't know any different.  You didn't know that this wasn't how everyone lived.  You didn't even have any idea what birthdays and Christmas were.

When you reached school age you were supposed to be attending school but you didn't get taken there every day.  Sometimes there wasn't an adult sober enough or awake to take you.  You quite liked it when you were there but you didn't know how to please any of the adults and you sensed they weren't very pleased with some of the things you were used to doing at home.   Sometimes they seemed shocked.  Every time the professionals started digging into why your behaviours were different and your attendance poor you were enrolled at a different school.  Until your third one where a shining light of a Deputy/Senco got a gut feeling about you, and bravely acted upon it.  She didn't have much evidence, she took a risk.

Things moved fast as soon as the fragments of your life were joined together by the professionals. You were then whipped swiftly into care and placed in a temporary home.  You had no idea what was happening but it was really great not to have to forage in bins for food.  You still, even two years later, didn't really trust that there would be food.  You hid food and tended to spend any pocket money on food.  Sometimes even making yourself ill hiding and eating it all.  Your school at the time worked really hard on doing everything they could to support the changes and help you learn how to make friends.  You started to learn that you could trust adults but you didn't really trust that they liked you.  Sometimes you tested whether they did by shouting swear words and threatening them.  Sometimes they seemed a bit shocked and scared.  That made you feel sad and lost.  They always gave you a fresh start though and they told you that you were good at things.  You didn't think you were though.  You didn't really understand which things you were supposed to be good at anyway.

After the first 18 months you were moved to a permanent long term home.  You didn't understand that this made you one of the very lucky ones who had a wonderful family who wanted to do everything they could to care for you and commit to the long term.  You had your second ever Christmas.  You didn't understand and became angry and scared.  That seemed to make the adults sad and you didn't understand why.

You were placed at a local village school.  It was hard, you found the change confusing.  You were much taller than the other children but you were so very desperate to get into the role play area in the infant class.  Your level of learning was below that expected for a seven year old and you knew and could see how far behind you were.  But you started to learn that the adults at school would help you and work with you whenever you needed them to.  You started to get some lovely one to one sessions for learning and you really enjoyed those. You started to learn that it isn't a good idea to take a teddy bear everywhere.  You started to learn that whatever happened the adults around you at home and at school cared.  You started to learn that you were going to be fed, spoken to and cared about every day at home and at school.  No matter what you did.

You started doing some things to test whether this was going to stay true.  You started doing those things two weeks before SATs week, which you didn't know about of course.  The adults didn't find that very easy to deal with, especially the school ones, but they worked through it.  Because it did stay true.  The adults cared no matter what.

The first morning of SATs you felt worried and sad.  You got the idea something important was happening and it involved doing hard school work.  You couldn't do hard school work.  Your adults at home though supported you and fed you a good breakfast, made sure you had both pairs of glasses and allowed a small stuffed elephant.  Everyone was bringing a mascot that day.  You felt better.  At school you felt better again when your teacher explained that you were going to be sitting separately with two school adults you normally work with one to one so that you could think and not be disturbed. You wanted to give it the best go you could, and you did.  You felt proud that you only had to miss out four questions.  You told your teacher you were going to try hard tomorrow too.


The child you have imagined joined a small cohort of year 6 pupils in November at a level 2C.  The child represents 14% of that cohort's results.  The headteacher knew that this would affect attainment results.  The headteacher decided that the child being in a small, nurturing environment was more important than attainment results and green Ofsted attainment data dashboards.

This is just one child.  Many schools have large groups of these children.  There isn't enough understanding by the floor target decision makers about what it takes to put a child like this back together.  And this child has a permanent long term home and so is one of the lucky ones compared to some children in care.  Most inspection teams now look at progress and look carefully about what is being done with children like this.  Ours certainly did.  But not all do.  The culture of fear that exists means that sometimes these children, who already have enough to cope with, are even further disadvantaged.