Its here, the time when I have to choose a high school for Big girl.
Its come around too quickly, she’s not ready, I’m not ready.
I’ve been looking for a suitable school since around Easter time, researching them and comparing them. I made a list, I called each of them and made appointments to meet with their SENCO’s. All of our local secondary schools are big, there were 4 on my list and only 2 of those would make the school run fairly easy the other 2 would require some sort of after/before school club, or lots of waiting around, neither of which are really ideal for big girl. The first three that I called didn’t really sound like anything special but the 4th one impressed me on the phone with their talk of support and understanding and a nurturing environment.
To cut a very long (over 4 months) story short the 1st three were not suitable, no real understanding of trauma, attachment or even autism, all of which big girl struggles with and the environments didn’t fill me with warmth and hope either. So on to the 4th one, the one I’d pinned all my hopes on.
I arrived at 9.05am. On my loooooong walk to the Senco’s office from the main reception, I commented on how ‘fit’ one must have to be to work there, clearly confused by my comment she told me that there were lots of ‘fit’ male teachers at the school and it was quite a pleasure to work there. Further along our walk we passed a very depressed looking boy slumped at a desk outside the head teachers office, remember this is 9.05am!! I spent almost 2 hours chatting and listening to her tell me how most children settle in very quickly, how her daughters really enjoying being there, how lots of children struggle with the hustle and bustle of the corridors at class changes and how they support them by giving them a map and if they loose it, they help them buy attaching it to their bags. Lots of talk about how great the communication between staff was, but no real assurances of how this helps the children on a practical level or examples of how she would be supported.
After our lengthy chat and shortly after a class change, we headed back through the winding corridors, the little boy that was slumpled outside the head teachers office, well, he was still there, there was also another boy flopped over a desk looking very sorry for himself a little way around the corner. As we walked out to the courtyard I noticed a young boy chatting with a
fit male teacher, he appeared to be having some difficulties and neither looked too happy, just behind them in a classroom were some older children having what appeared to be a very aggressive argument, the teacher chatting to the young boy, and the senco who walked besides me were both completely oblivious, I can only hope it was a drama class but somehow I don’t think it was.
Back in the main reception and the senco was approached by a young boy who wanted to tell her something, once he left I commented on what a sweet looking boy he was and I was horrified as she proceeded to tell me his personal story, that he had an attachment disorder and was feeling like his world was falling apart as his favorite teacher had just left, apparently he and his mum had decided to move schools for a fresh start but she thought it was a mistake. The little boy, who’s world was falling apart, reappeared and wanted to tell her something else, she suggested they catch up at lunch club at which point he informed her that he’d be late because he’s just been given a 10 minute detention. What a considerate teacher that must have been.
This was the school that sounded good, the one that filled my heart with hope, imagine what the rest were like!
So the search continues, I’ve widened the search area, although I have no idea how the logistics would work If any of those schools prove to be suitable. Big girl doesnt have a SEN statement/EHC plan, I’ve always been told by teachers that she wouldn’t qualify for one, so special schools are off the radar. I have reluctantly put ‘home-schooling’ on my radar. I don’t have any strong views on home schooling, I think it can be a perfectly acceptable method of education and equally I think schooling is also a perfectly acceptable method. I’m also of the opinion that not all children fit in to the same box so whilst school may be suitable for some, it may not be suitable for others and vise versa. However, my reluctance to consider home schooling comes from some where else. Home schooling big girl would take a lot of my emotional and physical resources and I’d never get the chance to ‘stop’ and recharge during school hours, and recharging is vital when your raising traumatised children. Baby girl and Middle girl equally have their own struggles and deserve a mommy that’s not exhausted by the time they come home from school each day, but at the same time sending Big girl to a school that she cant manage could just push her over the edge that she’s currently teetering on.
So my plan is to apply for a statement/EHC Plan for Big girl myself, I believe her emotional needs are vast and they have a huge impact on her ability to learn, I’m going to research home schooling, visit the other schools in the wider area and hope and pray one of them is amazing.