The Final Chapter

Finally it is over. My time at the PRU is done, in real terms if not technically….the end date is actually 31.8.16. The past few days have been very uneven, veering from agonisingly slow to breakneck speed in minutes and hours…the final countdown to the last farewells. 

And that phrase. ‘How does it feel?’ Over and over and my head was whirling with it all until down was up, up was down. Tears pricking at times, laughing and smiling by turns and finding a balance between rushing to get through everything I needed to do and a restless urge to visit every class and see the children one last time.

The Y6 leavers’ assembly was a highlight…I always cry and this year was no exception! There was a good turn out of parents (not easy as some have to come a long way and most don’t have transport) and the children were brilliant as usual! Light hearted at the end as Mrs J dug out an old clip of me dancing to a pulsing disco beat chanting ‘MC Ward! All the best tunes from MC Ward!’ and kids of the time groaning and covering their faces!!

Three of us have retired this summer….two are going back in a different, part-time capacity….however it is an emotional time, the closing of the book, the final chapter. We had a lovely staff meal out last Wednesday, and there was a real sense of unity….schools can be strange places with disharmony lurking in shadowy corners, but there was none of that….and the sun shone and drinks flowed in the garden. All was well. Then came the presents…flowers, sparkling wine, gorgeous jewellery;  a mum came bearing beautiful orchids and one of our most vulnerable, challenging little girls brought in an array of special gifts, hand- picked with care for the recipients!

Leaving day. Sadly some children awaiting EHCPs still don’t know they are going to another school soon…some may only know in the holiday that they are not coming back! Many of the Y6 were very tearful and tried to stay in their classrooms when the taxis arrived….one boy had to be nearly carried out bless…and one boy, super cool, put his head on our HT’s arm at the door and broke down. Our lovely, difficult, funny, sometimes violent, always heartbreakingly vulnerable children are on the next steps of their personal journeys.I will miss you all!

I will miss my fab colleagues too and the PRU….yes there have been crises and problems but these have been outweighed by laughter and camaraderie and a real sense of purpose with our excluded pupils at the heart of everything we do. I hope to continue to support challenging children out in mainstream…in my ‘memory book’ was an inspirational message from a child which I will frame by my desk. Here’s to the future!

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How does it feel?

A week to go before I leave the PRU and teaching ….then I will be an early retiree and a Behaviour and SEND Consultant! I’m trying to sort out my thoughts as people are now asking ‘how does it feel?’

I feel excited, nervous, apprehensive in turn but definitely ready for a new challenge. My working life has been a mixed bag of office , shop, dentist and some wonderful, amazing schools over a mind boggling 43 years with FE and uni and college thrown in! I’ve had a ball and been so lucky, lucky, lucky! But I’m not ready to throw in the towel or give up the ghost just yet….I have always been a grafter and I still feel I’ve a lot to give!

This feels like a new beginning and I’ve got such plans! I’ve already had offers of part time SEND work back in mainstream and got some initial work in the PRU (so not quite goodbye); there is a great need out in schools for this type of support so I’m hoping to be very busy! I want to update and up skill. …I want to attend more teach meets to bang the drum for the excluded….I want to write a book, articles, anything! I want to have time for long weekends away with my husband. I want the freedom to organise my time how I choose and go away in term time if I wish! I want to be able to finish at lunchtime on a Friday and enjoy a lazy pub lunch in a nice location. I want to have more time for family and friends…the message in these turbulent times is that life is too short to just rush on heedlessly. …I want time for quiet reflection and contemplation.

It does feel strange though to think I will have lost being in the workplace with my routines and my cosy office and the lovely HT, staff and children. So much of our identities are about our jobs and our standing in the world….I am defined by being a deputy head in a PRU….it is meaningful and drives my interactions with agencies, professionals, schools, parents, colleagues and children! Just the small thing of altering my twitter and Facebook profiles is going to be an act of finality…one minute you are in the ‘family’ of teaching, next you are not…and you close the door quietly behind you. I won’t know for sure how I feel until next Friday night but I sense a long and emotional week ahead and I know I will cry!!

 It is the children really.They are on the fringes and they need people to fight their corner so that their needs are met and they go on to be safe and happy. I feel I have gone into battle and won many a campaign, but sadly the war is being lost as more and more exclusions are coming through…five more in the last week…and we are being overwhelmed with numbers and the chance to do good is sadly slipping away. It maybe that by Christmas even there will be excludees sitting at home on tuition because, yet again, the PRU will be full! It feels grim.

And yet I cannot be a one woman crusade forever  (although it feels like I need to be) and I have to think of my own health and well being! I also have a poorly husband with a degenerative illness so I need flexibility in my life. However I still hope to carry on my work from within rather than from without! Maybe I can prevent an exclusion or two! Oh the power of positive thinking! From now on my watchwords are onwards and upwards and I am determined that #SENDforJax will become a byword for my mainstream colleagues.

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