Saturday, August 18, 2007

Emily's First Few Weeks in Reception Year - Sep 2003

Looking for something else, have just come across some paperwork from Emily's first few weeks at the local school. There's a bundle of the "fell over, hit head" notes - yeah, right. Pushed over, you mean. There's also a page of notes we scribbled to confront the "teacher" with.

Dated 8/9th September, so she'd only been there for about a week. Concerns already included: cried all lunchtime, dinner ladies ignored her; classroom assistant reported that she didn't know the words in her book, Emily very upset because she read it perfectly to us at home but just didn't like the woman (present day note: she obviously had good instincts even then!) and didn't want to read to her; Hattie pushed her over so she had to see the nurse for a cut but we weren't told until Emiy told us herself; a child tore up the leaves Emily had spent all playtime collecting, nothing was done about it; cried about the leaves at lunchtime, dinner lady told her to be quiet and sit still; still only has one book and no new words, Emily's bored with this book; can't eat her lunch because she doesn't eat fast and is frightened that she'll be sent to sit on the "naughty" table if she hasn't finished it so she doesn't eat anything at all to avoid that; told teacher she had tummy ache but teacher ignored it...........

My God. And this was from just two days, right at the beginning. It got worse, a lot worse, but part of me had forgotten just how awful it was. Makes me cry with shame that we left her there for a whole academic year, in the "care" of a bunch of people who had already shown they weren't fit to look after potted plants, let alone shy and afraid four and a half year old children. Feel a bit wobbly now, looking back. And yet we really didn't know. We thought that's the way it was. We did all the right things, spoke to the teacher (often, but politely, because that's the way we are - not forthright enough, obviously) - if I ever see her again, well, words fail me with what I'd like to say to her now - we also spoke to the headmistress and were fobbed off with promises to do xyz, none of which, of course, actually got done. We tried to arm Emily with strategies for what to do and say to fit every horrible occasion, but as I've reported previously on this blog, on the rare occasions when Emily did pluck up courage to stand up for herself, the "adults" in charge ripped her to shreds.

If only we'd known then what we know now - that not only is home education perfectly legal and entirely possible, but that Emily would thrive on it, and so would we. My only comfort is that Emily now doesn't remember most of that year at school. But as September draws closer and we see the little ones trot off to their first days at school, mostly all eager and excited (as Emily was, in her innocence); makes my heart sink because I know full well that at least one or two of them will turn out to be not a good fit to the school education system (because of course it's their fault, not the inadequacy of the system and the adults in that and every other school), and those children are destined to go through what Emily went through. And this at a "good" school. Why?


Lucy said...

That brings back quite a few memories for me too... It's just such an uncaring environment - frankly it can't be good for anyone can it? What lessons are the children learning about how to treat others? It is sad. The kids up here go back to school on Tuesday, hardly even having had a summer :(

Awareness is growing about home ed though and many more of us are taking that step :)

Hazel said...

Aaaw, Nikki. Don't beat yourself up about it! You did something about it as soon as you could. Not many parents do. Think positively about the years you've saved Emily from similar torture. She's very lucky!!!! XXXX

Nikki said...

Thanks Lucy and Hazel. Home ed seems so natural now - so much the only choice there could be, in fact - that I can't believe how long we spent agonising over the decision in the first place (as you probably remember, Hazel, you must have wondered why on earth we didn't just get on with it, lol!)