On 1st March most parents of 10 to 11 year olds where waiting with anticipation for notification of their secondary school choices. I wasn’t. I’d only put down one school and as they are struggling to fill their classrooms I had little doubt that Star would get a place.
The thought of Secondary School fills me with dread. I’ve two older children and for very different reasons the transition did not work. Both ended up being home schooled, one of them then went to another specialised school (not special school, but for children with problems) the other was home tutored by a special team of teachers right through to her exams. The whole time was stressful and difficult for all of us. I was a single mum at the time and had to give up a job I loved because I needed to be home all the time.
Star has similar problems to my eldest as they are both on the autistic spectrum. The difference is, Star also has physical disabilities. Choosing a secondary school for her was difficult. I checked out all of the schools in the area and none of them seemed suitable. Then I found one that seemed perfect, not only do they have excellent SEN facilities, they cater for disabled children too. The problem was, we were out of their catchment area and would have to put forward a very strong case to get a place as the school was already oversubscribed. I was willing to put the effort in to do this, despite the school being so far away. I would have to figure out a way of getting her to the school with her siblings at another school. I couldn’t rely on school transport because of the cutbacks.
I also had to take her thoughts into consideration, and she did not want to go to this school, she wanted to go to the same school as her friends.
This stopped me in my tracks, I rarely hear Star mention friends, she claims she doesn’t have any at school. Yet, she wants to go to the same secondary school as these friends. I had a flash back to my other older child who blamed her lack of being able to settle into school because I’d chosen a different one to the one her friends went to. I knew this wasn’t the real reason, but she still blamed me and no mother likes to be pinpointed in any of their child’s failures.
So, I picked the other school, the one closer to her siblings school, in walking distance from our home. With hindsight, I probably made a good decision simply because I can no longer drive or have a car.
I have visited the new school on several occasions. I’ve attended two open days and made an appointment to speak to the head teacher. I’ve explained in detail all of Star’s problems and asked repeatedly if they would be able to accommodate her needs. They have assured me they can and will. I can only hope that they do.
Star is looking forward to going there, she has been visiting the school every Monday morning with her current classmates. She will be attending a two week summer school there over the holidays. She told me excitedly that E. was going to the same school and that he had autism like her. I asked her if E. was her friend and she replied ‘no.’
I have to stay positive that this will work for her and try to put the past in the past. Well, apart from learning from my mistakes.
Here is a photo of my little Star on her very first day at school. Time really flies. We knew at the time about the autism and had already been for x-rays on her painful knees but had no idea what that was. So many things have happened since that day.
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