Tuesday, January 23, 2007

When Will Educrats Learn?

From the TES, a story of how a teacher, someone fully invested in the schooling system, had to grow in knowledge and understanding when her own child started to suffer from fear of school. Whilst this teacher had been faced with children who had behaved in similar ways before, it was only when her own child became depressed that she began to see that forcing a child back into school is likely to be pointless, profoundly damaging and far from the best possible alternative. Let us hope that other teachers and educrats can learn from her story of revelation before yet more children are forced to suffer.

The second page of the story below:

"When School is too Scary (cont).

The child psychologist said my son didn't have mental health issues, which was a huge relief - but that meant his absence had to be seen as truancy.

The ESW service agreed he wasn't misbehaving, but genuinely frightened.

However, the absence of medical evidence meant legal action. Tension rose still further at home as I wondered how on earth we could cope with court as well as a distraught 12-year-old weeping on the window sill.

This carried on through Year 7 and into Year 8. We continued to request meetings. I spoke to the head of the ESW service and the local authority education officer, who sent us back to the GP. He referred my son to the mental health team again, only to be told they wouldn't see him because they'd already assessed him as outside their remit.

The one bright spot was my son's eagerness to learn. Once we stopped mentioning school, he'd happily spend days reading and working through textbooks and worksheets. His school sent some work but I knew providing what amounted to distance learning just wasn't possible for a mainstream school in the long term.

Something had to change. We'd had all the help that was on offer but it hadn't worked. We all agreed there was nothing more that anyone could do. I desperately wanted my son back - my funny, clever, sardonic son who had been replaced by this self-loathing, miserable young man.

So we took school out of the equation to concentrate on learning. I'd been working in schools for the best part of a decade so the freedom allowed by home education seemed shocking at first. No set subjects. No national curriculum. The only thing we had to prove was that we were providing a full-time and appropriate education.

We are lucky that we've been able to take this route and that it has provided a solution for us. A child who is keen to learn and an adult who has the time to facilitate it are the only essentials and we are fortunate enough to have both.

We've had to make sacrifices to do it, but family life is back on an even keel now and I have my son back. That's the most important thing. "

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