As a mother with a child recovering from assault, assault where he was allowed to be grabbed, wrestled with, held in hand, arm and neck grips in order to be made compliant and to sit still in order to learn. All this made me wonder how schools compare to hospitals, where this is "usually" not allowed and if we can learn from "hospital cases" in order to develop schools?
I am lucky my child did not hit back, as staff and administration increased their brute force and I am very lucky he was seen with "failure to thrive", before actually being pushed over into defending himself. Actually, when the bruising on his neck, arms, knees and back could be seen, people let it go since we were in court for suspected parental neglect. Note stopped it. And the teachers and carers were the ones to point out that parental interference, is making their job impossible. A job that left my child with not just physical scars but also emotional ones - best of all blaming me when I was not even a part of their school venture. I did not need to use special holding methods or wrestled with my child as they believed worked and were trained to use.
SPED actually was enforced onto us after institutional abuse was allowed to go on for too long by staff that wanted to get rid of the inclusion project they did not want, nor were trained for and blaming me, as the parent. Sadly SPED that was offered was more of the same, just over as segregation projects that people believed was best. I realised it would not work in the long run, being trained years ago and having seen the consequences when we dismantled institution like "homes". I also know that unless they wanted to change, and the administration was made aware of the situation - where the staff shortages and lack of specialisation were critical - it would be difficult. But the system never wanted to change. Also, I did not realise the internal culture actually was!
I first saw/were given emails, internal notes, social workers from hell and foster care made when I did want to remove my child BEFORE the new teacher broke what had been rebuild, and was he was well on its way to recovery in 2011, after the court case and then the situation was another battle.
Years of no holdings one teacher effectively cancelled, when getting the other parents to accept "her new methods" when she sold to them to all of us by highlighting she "needed control" in order to teach... control by leading kids out of class ... and demonstrating how with a neck grip, and explaining how she can also hold an arm, if needed. Most parents had no idea what she was talking about, some wanted her methods and some disagreed. Sadly management had accepted this, and parents representing the class to management agreed, at that point, there was no point of return. I begged the school administrators to find another placement, they decided to sit us all down to negotiate at a dialogue meeting.
I was forced to keep my child there while waiting for her management and the municipal team to talk It was too late when my son described her "nearly breaking his arms" when he did not passively sit and watch her locking a kid out of class, a kid that at that point was suicidal after 3 yrs in SPED that did not help him, my child doing a no brainer and standing up to an adult for the sake of his friend - telling her that in their school teachers do not lock students out of class - he had inclusion as his focus and protected the other child's interests like I protected his when he was locked out of class years before, sadly he stood up without "adult" experience. And I had no status, being defamed since I did not agree on "holding techniques", amongst other things. The teacher described her own version, and as the police told me: Go home, you were not there. The police were not there for us either. Actually, what goes on in school stays in school - it's the culture of the school. A school's culture can within a few weeks become quite rotten, and it takes years to rebuild. Years and many resources.
For us speaking up, taking my kids and standing up to a SPED visitations team leader, we paid the foster care price as punishment for non-compliance. We indeed paid and learned we had no choice, we had nothing we could say. The administrators decide and then school headmasters and psychologists make the decision work. And I was effectively defamed, but people I once trusted.
Our case is now 7 yrs old in this municipality, going onto year 8. The first years after the incident people made sure administration believed we were just natives that did not understand how to behave, actually easy in a culture accepted within the organisation - allowing for the next three years where colleagues and "psychologists" that placed my child as Gifted with SPED needs (anxiety and dyslexia), placed him into a school for mainly criminal and retarded children, with administration overseeing the situation, not noting the level of abuse that staff were allowing. The team leader that had our case resigned and later said it was best, even though she had reprimanded the very same psychologist - her reprimand was forgotten in the process - to help us with the stress of the situation. She had no idea what was going on, and I let it go. Later her competencies will harm another child, but she was not part of the team here.
Then as miracles happen we were set free, and administration and his team threw us into SPED once again. A team that, as psychologists, could not stop the visitation by their team leader. But in their capacity as administrators, they enforced his leadership decisions. It's kind of complex - but boils down to budget cuts, structure changes and administrators leaving. In a system that collapsed years before.
It was interesting to listen to tapes of their reasoning ... one believed only normal kids in normal schools were allowed "her awesome" services for dyslexia (that is no handicap school or private school was given services, illegally but the budget was the budget). Reading years later that the kids get to SPED in worse shape than before, and SPED not able to pick them up - was no surprise. Number two believed my child should be locked up in SPED schools for delinquents, a decision she was reprimanded for in our case before her colleague, team leader for our case resigned, yet she succeeded doing that for 3 years! Their head was later pensioned and a new one took over one well trained in the culture of the system or more unit. But also one that was worried about their budget.
Because there were no services for Gifted Children left, a new psychologist nr 3, even after reevaluation and the case were put forward, and after being told her colleague messed up for 4 years straight enforced me to accept SPED, directly as newspapers said cannot work! The very same classes I thought Leta Hollingworth's work should have changed as matches for Gifted Children, were being "formed" again.
The new head ... just did as the administrator said, and by the time I worked out the level of chaos there was around me - I just flipped (not at all smart). Sadly they were a team, we were dispensable. How an administrator, actually is "above psychologist evaluations" is best left to just saying that public administration just works like that, and the part where not having the training is explained by - the way administration works it. As the head said: He was her boss, and somehow knew we could do nothing but did not understand the context of the decision is breaking her budget, not only our case but all cases over some years.
Luckily the last year of School was only with "one" kid that beat my kid up, and a few children too sick to understand their actions. Previous years the teachers allowed the other kids to sort out their problem child (me, through my kid) - while being dishonest about how harsh things and become and by removing parents from the school there was effectively no witnesses like I saw years before. My kids did as he always used to do and walked away and shut up .... and the class were given more staff, yet lacked the time to really be there, so business went on as per usual - their intentions were good. We coped because we had to. In order to be able to go back to normal school, but they did not want us. Nor were we allowed to receive SPED aid that was cut back.
Then the administration finally has our case again. 7 years made him even more eager to show politicians he can cope and sort this mess out. See, he has a budget and a plan where no or very few inclusion children were taught, and he allowed "methods" ... methods that made headlines in 2011, while our case was "hidden". And we were lucky landing with a headmaster that did not use "holdings" ect. but also had taken in more than they could cope with since administration did not understand how the lack of training and staff shortages work. To them, they just remove the entrepreneur and move on. Not realising they themselves need specialisation in order to evaluate the progress.
Our case went under the radar since I was of African decent or as they say non-westernised aka everybody knows our little monkeys cannot learn, cannot behave and not many actually get a diagnosed as dyslexia, while the system states no child is neglected etc. and then explaining we have serious behaviour problems (this last round - the mother again) and all teachers are trained to "be afraid", "to know its behaviour since mothers allow the boys too much", "mothers are not integrated". They were so fixated on what it was not and moved focus without saying the words. Sadly it is not spoken out loud, and offend people that they have been treating some kids differently.
But saddest of all was the general accepting of that "giftedness does not become behaviour or anxiety problems" nor "other disabilities" like ADHD, dyslexia, autism ect. The teachers were given a psychologist, consultant and still, they chose to do as they always do - also teachers have a learning wall they can hit, not only kids and they also did not recognise dyslexia. It took a year for them to realise that part stagnated - and then we lost the whole team.
My kid was described as wanting to be there, sweet and well behaved. The problem was that he kept telling everybody he did not fit in with them, and by the time they took notice he was "anxious, stress and not sleeping". Sadly that was explained as teenage hormones - and luckily straightened out.
Actually, I have no idea what they really thought, but by the time they released him it was directly back to be homeschooled, yet both administration and I insisted on normal school, thinking it would be a possibility. Except no school wanted an ex-sped / foster care case and the schools were barely coping with their own kids.
Schools had methods to move the focus and to say no without saying no. It's very difficult to explain but keep it at the level where we all know a headmaster needs to accept administration's decisions and that it does not always work out. Parents always are blamed - and we need to question this blame game!
I am sad to say: These kids end where you find them. Not "just" from their parental home, but due to stuff teachers are taught to do to enforce positive school behaviour, yet parents allow it, and they have no idea what is going on. We are not allowed to listen to our children saying "no" - and sadly some kids hide their anxiety way too long and even sadder is that parents, nor the good teachers out there can stop the culturally accepted behaviours used to allowed and enforce "classroom compliance". We find ourselves frozen out or just leaving and not looking back.
Why so many people allow it ... and where the teachers and children end up defending themselves "from school" I can explain best by referring to " the bad apple" a term used after a case of severe hospital neglect: "After Mid Staffordshire: from the acknowledgement, through learning, to improvement".
See, hospitals are also closed systems, with a very difficult job where patient care is centred around knowledge about neurology, pain relief ect... Yet in that case, something went horribly wrong. Sadly schools are not given the same amount of notice as hospitals are as far as ethical treatment of patients. Sadly in a hospital, they "can" very easily medically restrain the problems, a bit of medicine helps a lot, so patients sleep and do not disturb - in schools such medications would pose another set of problems. Although, schools are now expecting medical restraints and when that is refused they allow themselves to become physical or actually expect medical restraints or seclusion after they have been in place as a physical restraint and cannot keep up. No teacher or nurse signed up for this - it's learned behaviour.
Turning it around - I realised it's not possible so I removed my child, in 2011. Actually, other parents and teachers left as well. New people took over. Being forced by a court to accept what I only will refer to as a case of "being in Rome do as the Romans do" as my explanation for what people did to us - in a situation they had not understood the big picture, well they understood the part they needed for themselves, not the whole situation.
So, in 2016 when we finally were released, and we were indeed faced with the very same situation that created the problems in the first place. See, administrations really never change and each municipality has its own set of problems. We, actually stand as we did 10 years ago! And we are pretty ruffled.
Teachers can change jobs but never really run. Nor can parents change schools and totally get away from a growing culture. See, since it's often where the newbies are left on their own to cope - alone in the classroom- teachers and parents are left to "just cope". It's part of the initiation routine where the older staff, like in the hospital world, is to protect themselves but never really asking "for change".
They know better. See, "changing" would give them the responsibility to think about how the methods they are trained with hurt children and teachers in the long run. These compliant, non-complaining teachers become administrators ... and enforce "their ways" onto younger colleagues, by articles as the one above. The "bad apples" infect each other. But I was not completely on my own.
The teachers and children hurt in this process of neglect really need society to step in and say it's not viable for any of us. Sadly, society conforms and lets it happen ... just like the Mid Staffordshire case:
NHS culture at Mid Staffs that tolerated low standards and sold patients short:
"dealing with the cultural challenges are much more difficult to do something about"
"Francis sees the health service during these years as almost akin to a cult inspired by managerial ideology – where managers saw the glass as half-full when in fact it was empty.
He says "poor standards" risking patient care were tolerated and there was an "institutional culture" that "ascribed more weight to positive information about service than to information capable of implying cause for concern".
In short, it was the culture that did it. To change this means that actors in the system – managers, doctors (headmasters in schools) and civil servants – must change the way they do business."
Mid Staffs hospital scandal: the essential guide:
"As Francis's first report said, that inquiry heard evidence "that none of them [external organisations charged with overseeing the trust], from the PCT to the Healthcare Commission, or the local oversight and scrutiny committee, detected anything wrong with the trust's performance until the HCC investigation." The landmark report will, over many hundreds of pages, detail what he then also called "the actions and inactions of the various organisations to search for an explanation of whay the appalling standards of care were not picked up."
His task is to explain why so many people failed so badly, and to make sure it does not happen again."
Sadly, children and teachers, as well as families, are hurt by a culture being developed in some schools. That we are not thinking how these kids will grow up and become our caregivers - befuddles my brain. Scary to think how the children will treat us after how we let them suffer in school? And, yes teachers, as well as parents, will end up in nursing homes together ... we can then talk about it in our rocking chairs and hope the caregivers understand we had no idea how to stop an administration that indeed were given a responsibility that we all should have held on to. We are all responsible, and accountable.
No teacher, parent or child asked for anything like this. The kids needed a decent environment to play, or learn to play without adults doing to them as we tell them not to do to each other.
A new type of leadership is needed in schools, as the hospitals needed. I wish somebody could show them the effects of their "holding" methods before more damage is done. But no administration will allow that!
See, no administration realises and to go to court for it is worse is no court room cares to see there is a problem - they cannot see that they were not taught to see. It's time people are taught about the methods teachers are being taught to use ... as well as understand the mechanisms behind system failure: One child at a time. It will take generations to change. We all know deep inside no child benefits from holding them until they give up and sleep right?
If you have no idea what I am talking about then start reading ... a good place to start is Jean Mercers work on Holding Therapy, and her book: Alternative Psychotherapies: Evaluating Unconventional Mental Health Treatments. This is a random one explaining RAD and "holding therapy": https://vimeo.com/159317432 So, in choosing a school or therapy for your child - choose well. Find the pros and cons. And remember - it's easier to fool a person than tell them that they have been fooled.