What are we doing to our kids?

This post has been inspired by @nancygedge blogging about life after levels and lessons in life but has been building up bit by bit from my experiences of the past week.

Those of you who read my blogs know I am passionate about the vulnerable and disadvantaged children who are refugees of exclusion in our primary PRU. We shelter them from rejection and strive to put them back together in a new and better way so that they can learn and grow and thrive in the world.
But what sort of world are we fitting them up for?

Here’s a miscellany of jigsaw pieces that I am struggling to make a picture with at the moment.
A few days ago I got into a lather about a blog that referred to misbehaving young children as ‘toerags’. I don’t want to go over old ground as it got me unfollowed and barred by two prominent tweeps but then, last night, I saw something which brought it all back; another prominent tweep was blogging about his choices for an award and put the so-called ‘quirkyteacher’ into his category for best new blog! How depressing that a primary head would find anything amusing or worthwhile in a blog which has an intrinsic hatred for certain children at its heart! Ah but it’s controversial….fills timelines. ..sorry but that is a poor reason to admire it (and I still say it is fake ).
At the end of August I felt very fortunate to be in a meeting with @mcladingbowl about OFSTED changes and blogged about the brave new world that he was shaping which would take pressure off teachers who were being observed. I was therefore profoundly depressed by two stories:
1. A nearby school which got ‘good’ but where one teacher was hounded by the inspector and had to be defended by the head.
2. A school where half the teachers had their lessons graded.
OFSTED inspections are not a blood sport and nor should they fly in the face of their mandate! No ‘mastery’ there then!
This week I went to observe a child in an infant class to try and give some strategies to the teacher. The school was lovely and nurturing but they struggled to cope with a small boy who had developmental problems and had tantrums like a two year old. Why do we insist on putting small square pegs into round holes they are just not ready for? No wonder exclusions are on the rise!
There were issues elsewhere this week with a junior boy who was having problems…turned out he was in a streamed writing group of……infants! Anyone still think streaming is the answer to our prayers?
Another permanent exclusion in the wings…..autistic….and a weeping mum, Auntie and grandma to console….fortunately, through their tears, they could see we offer the care and support their young one needs.

I’ ll be honest….I don’t have any answers and the world can crush and rend as much as it inspires and rewards….I just wish that there was a will from all of us to stand up to tyranny instead of merely railing against the dark. We should say a resounding ‘no’ to terms like ‘mastery’ and ‘below expectations’. We should love and care for all our children…. even the ‘toerags’…..and address all the big issues of disability and mental health and learning needs with an empathetic and positive approach….true ‘growth mindset’.

Otherwise, what alternative is there? What sort of a world are we creating? What are we doing to our kids?


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