I love the Dr Seuss books and this morning I saw a great Lorax tweet which pretty much sums up my view of education and how we care about our children….particularly the lost and the vulnerable who often end up in our PRU!
And we do have to care….because if WE don’t the power brokers, the vested interests, the corporate movers and shakers will airbrush caring out of the system and will replace it with their own world view which is costed down to the last penny ; I see it happening now, in all our caring services, and not least in education!
And strength comes in numbers…banding together to face down inappropriate testing, forced academisation, ridiculous curriculum changes and anything else that the ‘great and the good’ deem we have to accept….if we don’t stand firm then we will have lost precious, irreplaceable freedoms to do what is best for our children. It is the children who matter and it is for them we have to say no, this isn’t right and act together.
In my PRU the stakes are getting higher and we are now full of permanent exclusions. However exclusions are still happening and pupils who should come to us are having part time or no home tuition depending on parental views….not every parent wants a stranger in their home, even one delivering education, and not every child can access this in their home as it may not be the right place. And why is this happening? Because the provision has been cut and cut and, sadly, we are a 32 place unit serving over 150 primary schools in our area.
Of course we offer early intervention to our schools and do our best to keep in as many children as we can in mainstream through one to ones, training, advice and support, SEN consultations….you name it we do it…and we are jolly good at it! Alas, we are losing this funding from September and have to earn it back through a complex system of recording and reporting to the LA. No one knows how it will work in practice…a familiar tale…and if it doesn’t work we are heading for disaster in terms of viability, staffing and budgetary forward planning; not one school I have spoken to supports it but, nevertheless, it is going ahead and we just have to get on with it! More so because our vulnerable children on the fringes need us to make it work for all our sakes!
Gone are the days when we can pass the buck to someone else if we have a problem in school with a child….there IS no one else! We have to be proactive and solution focused and, sorry schools, but you will have to pay if you want our help! And if your overstretched, tightly squeezed budgets can’t afford it, well, exclusion is still free. And here we go in a circle….back to our full unit…and children sitting at home, uneducated, because they may have undiagnosed SEN which underlies their challenging behaviours….we’ll never know unless they come to us or a mainstream takes a chance on them….and we all ride round on the merrygoround of failure and despair! Still if we save a few quid…a few more councillors get their expenses paid….the government can claim austerity is working…we are all in it together after all!
So who is going to stand up for our lost and forgotten? Me and you, and you…and you! Listen to advice, accept help….try and make it work for every child in your classes! Don’t just throw your hands up and say nothing can be done or wait for the head to press the exclude button when it all spirals out of control! Get in touch with your local AP provider or PRU, your SEND team, any known independent consultants who are tried and tested…permanent exclusion should be the last resort.
And if it comes to that, can you, hand on heart, look at yourself in the mirror and say you tried everything for that child? Some children need to be in a small, specialist setting and will thrive there but an EHC Plan (statement) is needed to get them to the right place…a PRU is strictly short stay! It is not an easy task but you CAN do it!
Well..OK. ..maybe not that much…but your mindset needs to be firmly focused on success! You can make a difference!