This is my first blog on my new hudl tablet! Yay! Hope this is a good omen for 2015!
I have just read some fabulous blogs on this theme from Chris and Sue and Jonny and Cheryl and more……and it struck me what a diverse and marvellous group of people grace twitter with elegance, humour, and individuality! Not only that but a love of children in all their guises shines through in a myriad of blogs and tweets….these are educators and human beings who care and then share! None of us are perfect but being passionate about educating children, even those on the fringes, is a worthy calling and we should be proud of that!
This time last year I was not on twitter. Months before I had created a handle and an avatar but that was all. I tweeted once I think. At this time I didn’t realise its power. I didn’t know it would open up a whole new world to me with enough cpd to last a lifetime! I didn’t know about the super colleagues and now friends who were out there to be connected to. So what changed? It was a friend who got me tweeting at around May time; lovely May with its blossom and dancing and gaily coloured streamers tied to the Maypole linked to the happiness of children! My son was born many summers ago in the merry month of May and it seems fitting that I should discover Twitter at this time ; it was a time of personal growth and finding my voice in the company of some special tweeps. Rory was one of those and he encouraged me to write a blog for his #whoIamandwhatIdo collection; this was scary and took me ages but I was fairly happy with it and Rory said some very kind things ! I call him my twitmentor and credit him with my burgeoning passion for blogging. From a child I have enjoyed writing and losing myself in books but never felt like a real writer…..now I can indulge my amateur side in speaking about the things I care about!
So what are my highs and lows from 2014? I’m going to stick to my professional life for this. Obviously tweeting and blogging have been amongst the high spots this year. Cherryl has really encouraged me and she came to visit my PRU in the summer which was great; it is lovely to actually meet fellow tweeps! In August I blagged a visit to see Michael Cladingbowl from OFSTED in the company of Mary, Cherryl, Debra Kidd and ChrisMcD and others and it was brilliant! I got to ask questions I had collated from PRU tweeps and felt that Mike really listened to us! He admitted he had little experience of PRUs but agreed that inspectors need to know about behaviour if they were coming to us…I had heard horror stories on this front and told him!
My blogging has really taken off and I try to give a flavour of what it’s like to work with excluded children who are on the fringes of society. Unfortunately, too many people including, sadly, teachers believe that these kids are ‘ naughty’ or, worse, ‘feral’ and swallow the tabloid definition of ‘little thugs’ wholesale! This has caused me to fall foul of the ‘traditionalists’ who are all for the ‘good children’ etc etc. Aren’t we all? I had a ‘good’ son who plaintively asked me why the teacher shouted at the whole class when someone misbehaved! I don’t pretend there are easy answers but we can’t stop trying!
I have had to endure the championing of dodgy blogs by child haters who think it’s fine to refer to young kids as ‘toerags’ (anonymous blogger later changed this!) ….Academies Weekly no less allowed this blog\ rant to be put forward as a must read ! …..fie on you! It’s not nice to be blocked but I felt I had to speak out. I am sorry though that in the process I upset a perfectly nice lady who felt she had to nail her colours to a different mast!
What some fail to see is underlying SEN and severe mental health issues in some very young children that manifest themselves in behaviour. Some children have emotional problems linked to their home lives and these can surface in violence and aggression and the destruction of property; they often struggle to cope in large groups….they need a small nurturing setting and intensive adult support. Are we really wanting to write off children as young as 4??? Whose fault is it that they are as they are?
I do feel that we are working together in our PRU to make a difference in and out of house. Our HT is brilliant with the kids and supportive of the intervention work we do. The intervention leader and I do a lot of training in schools and hold half termly SEND meetings for local schools. We hold weekly SENCO surgeries. We have great staff who support children in mainstream and we have developed good links with other agencies to support schools and parents.
So what of 2015? OFSTED is looming….I just hope we get inspectors who can appreciate what we are about! I am concerned about the number of perm exes coming through; we are a 32 place primary unit serving 160 schools! It also takes away our ability to offer respite places which has been highly successful! I am committed to work with schools in preventing exclusion.
As a result of being on twitter I saw the opportunity of being on a national working party for mental health; being accepted on this has been one of my proudest moments and I am hoping to roll out training for schools on being a mentally healthy school. I am also going to look at introducing more therapeutic approaches within the PRU funding allowing!.
Talking of twitter I am looking forward to attending my first teachmeet in Leeds in June #Northernrocks really excited to see tweepals Cherryl, DiLeed, Rachel plus Tim and Rory and other lovely friends! Cannot waiiiiitttttt. !! !! excited !!!!
So much work to do and so little time! Many teachers my age have retired from the fray but I don’t feel ready for this AT ALL! Someone needs to love the lost and reclaim the forgotten. When I think about all our little success stories who have gone on to bigger and better things I could weep with joy! It’s not easy to recover from being in a PRU and some do sink, sadly, not waving but drowning. When I read derogatory things said about our kids I could weep with rage, one school has perm exed two children from the same class! They are 8 years age for God’s sake and the one already with us is fine….he needs nurture not rejection!! Last year a school perm exed a Y6 boy who had been there from reception THREE WEEKS before the end of the year! He had undiagnosed autism and loved keeping chickens! He is doing well in Y7 as his needs are being met by the local academy ( yes there are some bloody good ones!) Don’t bleat to me that it’s all the poor little kids’ fault! This lies on both sides!
In conclusion I would like to say…..if you want to know how the other half live, please follow my blog…..I actually think we are moving to three quarters in terms of families experiencing severe difficulties….another strand of my job is finding support for them …..children’s social care is in crisis but help is so needed! Contrary to popular belief our PRU is full of hard working families whose children need medical and other help that they struggle to access! The most heartbreaking over the years are those in children’s homes…..they are often living with the ultimate rejection! Literacy and Numeracy are not a priority, amazingly!
2015 is an election year so it could be anybody’s game! I will carry on fighting the good fight for schools with difficult catchments and for families and above all for our future…..our lovely kids!