Thursday, 9 February 2012


“I read to Sarah today, Mum.”

“Who’s Sarah?” I asked my daughter, only half-listening as I cleaned up the kitchen after tea.

“Sarah. She was a girl I had to read to.”

I could see this was going to go in ever decreasing circles if I didn’t focus a little harder. I put down the dishcloth.

“OK. Is she another pupil?” I asked. Direct questions always work best.

“Yes. She’s in Pink Class.”

“How old is she?”

“She’s seven, Mum. I read to her.”

I ignored the repetition and tried to get her to elaborate.

“Why were you reading to her?”

Finally an answer. “The teacher asked me and the other good readers to read books to the children who can’t read.”

It’s only a few years since my daughter regularly came home in tears from mainstream school, because her classmates were leaping up through the reading levels while she lagged behind. It was heartbreaking to see, because she loves books and reading is one of her strengths. She might not be as proficient as the average 13-year-old, but for a girl with a learning disability, she’s not half bad.

Now, at her special school, things are different. Now she’s flying high.

The song is The King Of Rome, performed by The Unthanks and The Brighouse & Rastrick Band. It’s ostensibly about a pigeon. But it’s about more than that, really.

“And when I set them free
It's just like part of me
Gets lifted up on shining wings...

...And if you live round here
The ground seems awful near
Sometimes I need a lift from victory"

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