Bricks in the wall

The building blocks of every school are made of more than bricks and mortar.  Their high walls are made strong by the stark white building block institutions of policy, protocol, tradition, the three R’s, discipline, order, and consistency; cemented by staff experience.

I feel small writing this, staring up at that ivory tower that overlooks our invisible domain of adoption and FASD.

So I lay siege to their walls, chip chip chipping away with new research and guidance and diagnosis for insight; scratching at the deep foundations and pushing hard against their mighty pillars for some sign of recognition or give; beseeching them for the help and understanding we so desperately need.  Painstakingly trying to tear down their simplistic but impenetrable algorithms that sort all behaviour into either ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Slowly, slowly I breakthrough.  In every meeting, it starts with a distant rumble until sure enough – one by one – the bricks start to shake and fall until those walls of stone come falling down toppled by an undeniable truth.  With a flash of understanding I can see my words penetrate their solid beliefs and replace them with compassion.

But somewhere between each meeting room and the classroom, my spell is broken. With every step along those hallowed corridors, every fallen brick moves effortlessly back to its place in the wall and piece by piece the insight and the empathy is blocked out once again.   As the teacher reaches the blackboard, the establishment is restored once again.

I appreciate their time and their ears, I really do.  But it is not listening we need; its doing. It is not me that needs their attention, it is CHT.  And it is not a meeting or a report that changes things, but action.

Because every day this continues, barriers of a different kind are going up.  Cold, misshapen walls loom, and silently trap CHT ever more tightly behind each negative experience. Their punishments, their rebuffs, their knock backs, their league tables, their prejudice undermine her strength and her astonishing will to do well; replacing her goals and her braveheart determination to achieve brick by brick with a reluctance to participate, a fear of trying, and a strong resentment for the education system that is letting her down.

It chills me to my very core as I watch seemingly powerless while they crush her and let her slip through their net.

FASD and adoption are the statistical shanty towns of the school room; loco parentis does not apply here and every child does not matter.

Further reading:

Adoption UK Publication – Education Now

Other adoption/education blogs from The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

7 thoughts on “Bricks in the wall

  1. Great post, you must get very frustrated .I was very fortunate with all the girls teachers they were always very supportive .The one issue I did have was when they did autobiographies and had to take photographs in ! No consideration for the fact they had no baby photos , left feeling different again .Good choice of Video.

  2. I too have sat in meetings, had after school conversations where you think you are being heard only to find that things continue as before. I know I have a good school in the most, where the SENco seems to have lots of knowledge on attachment and trauma but unfortunately the teaching staff do not. Each year it’s a lottery on whether the teacher is prepared to make adjustments to their teaching style to be support my boys, some years are better than others. High School will be the really test I think and not one I’m looking forward too. Great post which clearly describes the anxieties and frustrations of a mother just wanting the best for their child.
    Thanks for ;linking up with the weekly Adoption Shout Out

  3. aaarggh – I hear your frustration Mumdrah and am so sorry – grim reading so many having to fight and shout from the rooftops on behalf of our adoptive children and other areas of need – it is not enough to be eloquent and forceful enough to get your voice heard and for it to end in the meeting room – you are such a very powerful undercurrent and safety net for CHT – despite the education system seeming to fail her – what will win through is her determination and heart to please and to fit in, belong and her increased knowledge and secure base throughout that you have been there for her. It isn’t good enough – and every child really should matter. The walls of system and structure need to come down – just not sure if the voice of one is string enough – however with increase in similar issues surrounding adoption and fasd many will join the drum beat – and as always a knee jerk reaction to respond to a crisis of need will happen – just wish it was yesterday!

  4. I know where you’re coming from. Having had a meeting on Monday, I thought I’d got through, I thought change was coming. Still no action though.

    I will, as I’m sure you will, keep pushing, keep chipping away at them until I get what Mini needs. I only hope it comes before he leaves the education system for good, and before his emotional wellbeing is damaged even further by a system that is failing him and so many others.

    Thanks for linking up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out x

  5. Thank you so much for your replies and comments. Our school is ‘a goodie’ but they still miss the ball. If only their mistakes were impact neutral, but the damage it does to our children is clear – both in their classrooms and back at home when they return and explode with Cognitive Fatigue.
    We have to keep pushing – individually and collectively; change must come and together we are stronger. Mx

  6. I’m afraid that in a mass education system, even with the best will in the world, every child simply can’t matter. I never taught in primary school (where at least one teacher spends a lot of time with one class), but in my years of teaching Music in high school, I had children pass through my hands at such an alarming rate that it was barely possible to learn their names, never mind get to grips with all their IEPs. I’m talking 10+ groups of 30 for one hour only per week (plus a few exam classes where numbers were smaller). Some of these classes had 10-15 children with IEPs. I had classes with profoundly deaf children that I got zero support or training for – their assistants didn’t come with them to Music because it “isn’t a core subject” and therefore isn’t funded. And believe me, I cared, really cared about these kids.
    After a few years of that, disenchanted and discouraged by the nature of our system, I got out of mainstream and instead taught at a tiny private school where I knew every child and every child’s family.
    Many children will do well and thrive in a one-size-fits-all educational system, but others will be horribly failed by it. I’m afraid this is a bit of a soapbox for me. When the time comes, I’m pretty sure I’ll educate mine at home, in conjunction with a number of other home-educating families I’m in touch with.

  7. That is so familiar …. If I could write well it could actually be me

    Was let down badly as a child by education…. I was a very good child, biddable, never challenging I moved from England to Scotland and was ridiculed teased and put down…. By teachers… My 9 target standard grades were dropped to 3… The classes I could cope with. They missed that I was already damaged, no one cared enough to stop it, sometimes the worst thing for a child is STAYING in the family of secrets and closed doors and carpets bulging with the secrets swept under them.

    So when I had my own children I knew it would be different I would be there and they would not be let down…… But my middle child had a learning disability… Chromosome disorder… But she was no trouble and biddable… So was also invisible. I fought and I chipped and got her a place in a specialist school for educationally fragile I had to take my fight to the top…. They tried everything…. If it doesn’t work it could literally be kill not cure… Was actually said to me. Thank fully it was neither, she can’t be cured and neither would I want that she is perfect just as she is.

    So now I have 2 beautiful foster boys, both damaged by life… One I believe has FASD (no alcohol admission from mum+no facial features=no diagnosis. is role in their partnership is the “poor soul”

    The other the younger one copes by being ” The wideo” Scottish for trouble maker or smart Alec …. That’s all they see … School…. Sw…. education…. Even family. Not me I see a scared, loving, confused determined bright funny clever…. Etc etc

    So here we go again on the merry go round… A little smarter (have now worked in children’s nurseries for 30 years as a manager and have a degree) you would think that would make a difference but it is the same…. Still the same attitudes…. As you have described you can win over a meeting…. Stay calm and focused…. Research and be armed with facts…. But once it gets to the classroom…. Especially now that the older one has started high school. The class teachers have not even got the information.

    But I will not give up….
    The one they label “angry” gets called “second hand kid who’s mum needs paid to look after you” “ginger retard” etc etc but he is the one with the problem.

    The “poor soul” they say is thriving in high school and has friends…. The friends are 4 years older and play with him by taking an arm and a leg each and swinging him on to the bus or pouring water over his head …. What a laugh…. Real friends

    I have taken redundancy to give me more time for meetings and assessments but will still turn to pages like these to vent and get support…. Where people actually “get it”

    Thanks for being here

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