The end of term brings with it the end of term traditions. The class parties, the sports days, the early finishes.
Peony had her sports day first!! This was her first sports days and she was so excited to be part of it all. It was all very well organised and well structured. Parents moved from activity to activity, watching their children try their hardest.
Peony as wonderful as she is, a natural athlete she is not!!! Her welly was wanged in the wrong direction, and she ran through her hurdles.
There was a winning team who got little medals. The school split sports day so that the younger children were in the morning, the older ones in the afternoon. All parents, children and teachers left the field with pride, I think.
The following day I had George’s sports day!!!! Let me enlighten you to how sports day is done in George’s school.
I stroll down to the classroom with willow and wait while his teacher tells them what is on the agenda.
There are 3 classrooms in key stage one (ages 3-7), they all have interconnecting play grounds. Activities were set up on each playground, such as bike races, target practice with beanbags and there were space hoppers.
So the doors were opened; and children were allowed a free flow afternoon. It was chaos to be honest!! The most wonderful chaos you could imagine. Children weren’t told what to do or where to go. Races were between children and their teachers, or children and their parents. Willow was in a bike race!! She flew up the little playground with George’s friends.
Within George’s year group there are children who through their conditions can act impulsively. Willow however did not batter an eyelid, because just like peony, this is her world. She is as comfortable there as she is anywhere. George’s friends loved her, and helped her to ride her bike or throw her beanbags at the target. One tried to run off with her in a little car. The child’s mum and myself put a stop to this activity!! No one has time for a head injury at the end of term.
The children had so much fun, and the parents were allowed in to their child’s world.
The ‘chaos’ that it may appear breaks down barriers between staff and families. This is something that mainstream schools in my experience could learn a lot from.
After the sports day was snack time, for which parents could stay in the classroom for. Willow was set a place at the table, given a snack and welcomed in to the group of children like she was there everyday. She even had a certificate written for her participation in the sporting events.
The week for George has been incredible, he has been to the farm, he has had his sports day, he has a children entertainer coming, he went to the moon light room and went to the woods! Today they shut the gates to the bus lane, the staff lined the bus lane with dinner hall tables and had a massive street party for the whole school.
So much of what George’s school does isn’t just because it’s a school for special educational needs its because it’s a really good school.
This is the school I’ve arrived at in the pouring rain of a morning, waiting for it to ease. I have looked out of my window to see the deputy head with a brolley offering us cover to get us to the front door dry.
Choosing to send George to his school at the time seemed like the very best thing for him, seeing him there; I know it was the best thing. Not only for him, but also for us as a family. They don’t only care for George; they care for us all as a unit. At this school we are not outsiders trying to fit in, we are not struggling alone. We are supported by the most fantastic and dedicated staffing body, and parents that will break their neck to help someone in need.
Standing at that cross roads of mainstream or special needs education is daunting and horrible. The path I chose for George has led me to a family, a family of understanding, warmth and acceptance.