It’s taken me a while to start this blog post because I couldn’t actually find the computer. It was hidden in the depths of the older boys’ bedroom where they’d been using it to watch Pointless Blog videos on YouTube. I’m stressed out now from being in their room amongst the chaos of Lego, magazines and a million dirty odd socks! I’m also having to hold Indigo with one arm while I type because she feels the need to be permanently attached to me 24/7!
Anyway, the point of this blog post is to try and work out how to make a decision that has been bugging me for more than 3 months now. We have been trying to figure out which direction to take in Thurston’s education and the complicated nature of the whole situation is causing me so much worry at the moment. I have a constant knot in my stomach from trying to work out what is the best solution for everybody. It’s pretty much all I think about!
When Thurston was due to start school, we lived in a different town to the one we live in now. We booked a meeting with the SENCO at the boys’ school to discuss his admission there. It was made perfectly clear to us that they didn’t want him. obviously, they couldn’t say it as literally as that, but once they had made statements such as “we won’t change his nappies, you will need to come in to do that yourself” and “we don’t want his needs to take our budget away from the other children”, we got the message. So, we sent him to a different mainstream school that is affiliated with a special school and had the best of both worlds. The staff loved him there as he was already attending nursery, and they were well equipped and knowledgeable about his needs. We had no qualms at all that it was the right place for him. However, his school was further away and it became impossible for one parent to do both school runs, so Alex reduced his work to part time so that he could do a school run too. We then lost our home and moved nearer to Thurston’s school which is where we are now. Come September, Louis will be at High School and Indigo will start nursery meaning that we’ve ended up in a situation where 4 kids will be at 4 different schools, and I don’t drive! It’s just a big mess!
A few months ago, I started thinking about the possibility of home educating Thurston. Although I love the school he attends, there have been some big changes there recently and it’s a lot different to the school we applied for originally. The Headteacher and Inclusion Leader have both left. They were very supportive and experienced with special needs, and since they left, our communication with the school has ceased. We haven’t had a TAF meeting in 6 months where before they were 6 weekly. In fact, I haven’t spoken to the replacements once. He has had a new 1:1 assistant who is great but a lot less pushy than his previous one. If there’s one thing Thurston needs, it’s somebody pushy!! He is also due to move up to Year 3 in September which is a big transition, a whole new Key Stage, which is much more structured and routine, something which Thurston struggles with.
At the end of last year, I attended a 3 hour long meeting to transfer Thurston’s Statement of Special Educational Needs over to the new Educational Healthcare Plan, which was brought in by the Conservative government with the clear objective of cutting the cost of children with special needs to the educational budget. The entire focus of the meeting was costing. Each time an objective was mentioned, the prices were looked up in a catalogue and noted down. I find it really hard to think of Thurston’s education in these terms. If he was educated at home, I wouldn’t have to. I received the draft of the EHCP last week. The objectives include statements such as “for Thurston to sit in a small group of 2/3 for 5 minutes” and “for Thurston to recognise when he is angry”. Is that the best he can aim for? Thurston has ambitions and interests, and he does well academically. So, is it really appropriate that all we are aiming for is that he sits quietly and doesn’t disturb anyone? Thurston wants to speak French, learn to play the guitar, grow vegetables, cook and write magazines. He should have the freedom to do those things. We could do that if we homeschool. I have no worries about his numeracy and literacy, he has continued to do well in those areas, but I am worried about his creativity and wanderlust being stifled. I want to follow his lead and help him to learn whatever his crazy mind is craving. There are a few small niggles too, such as lunchtimes, P.E. etc. He sits alone at lunchtime as he finds the business of the other children too overwhelming. He doesn’t mind sitting alone, but it’s not good for him (or my mum-guilt!) to do so. Eating should be a sociable time, as we learned from the Feeding Psychologist in London, and eating alone will not do his feeding issues any favours. He has become less involved in P.E. recently, preferring to “talk to the hedge” according to his 1:1. There are physical activities that Thurston enjoys such as swimming, trampolining and running on the sand, all of which would be easy to include in our homeschooling day.
We are currently stuck in a financial rut due to our situation, and home educating Thurston would free Alex up to work full-time, and eventually look for a job that he actually enjoys. This would make such a difference to our entire family. There are only 2 real downsides to the proposal. 1) I have no idea what to do if it doesn’t work out! Would we just reapply to school with our tail between our legs?! 2) Collecting Zeke from school is a 45 minute walk to and from the next town. Thurston certainly wouldn’t be able to walk this distance so it would mean a double buggy full of 2 & 7 year olds for an hour and a half. I don’t have anyone to help me with this so that’s my only option.
The knot in my stomach is embarrassingly due to the fact that I’m terrified of telling the school! I can’t stand confrontation and I feel like I’m having to break up with them. I don’t know how to explain my argument clearly to them under pressure!
I would love to hear anyone’s experiences or advice regarding homeschooling as I’m sure there are a million things I haven’t even considered and I’m probably looking at it with rose-tinted glasses! Please leave a comment or tweet me or find me on instagram! @hannahsunited
Thank you for reading!