Thursday, 5 July 2012


Big changes are afoot.

I’m sitting at my computer screen looking at a school uniform page and staring at my old school tie. And there is a distinct possibility that I’ll be ordering one for my daughter.

She goes to a special school which is based on two different sites, half a mile apart. They used to be separate schools but were merged a couple of years ago and now operate, under one name, as a primary and secondary site. The school also has a couple of satellite classes at the local comprehensive, next door to its secondary site. And this week an interesting idea has been raised. My daughter might be heading to the comp.

This came as something of a shock, and my initial reaction was negative. For the past few years we’ve been convinced that a special school is the right place for our girl to be.

These are our reasons:
  • She thrives in a special school environment is because of the small class sizes and individually-tailored teaching and learning methods
  • She can’t keep up with the speed, pace and nuances of social interaction, so the mainstream environment could overwhelm her 
  • She needs constant supervision at lunch and breaktimes to make sure she doesn’t eat anything that is not on her carefully controlled diet
  • She is under that vulnerable category of “otherness”, which could make her an ideal candidate for bullying. And she’s not even ginger. 
So, I’ve been for a recce at the mainstream comp, walking past the Sixth Form Common Room where we used to plan all sorts of escapades, and catching a glimpse of the running track where I once took a pig on a sponsored run.* (*long story, never mind). The satellite classes are essentially in a separate unit, although they are contained in the main school building. It’s a micro-school within a massive school. To all intents and purposes, it’s still a special school - it just happens to be located somewhere else.

And after conversations with the teachers and teaching assistants who know my daughter well, and some sleepless nights (well just look at the time I’m posting this stream of consciousness) I’ve come to the following conclusions:
  • The class size in the special unit at the comp will be half as big as at the special school site, and my daughter will learn at her own pace, using teaching methods that suit her 
  • She’ll be protected from the wider mayhem of a mainstream school by full-time supervision from staff 
  • If anyone bullies her, one - or all - of her three cousins who go to the school will beat the shit out of them.  

Video is The Ramones - Rock 'n' Roll High School

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