Two years ago, I sat at this very computer, waiting for the results of the school admissions to be released. It was an anxious wait, and one that was worth waiting for as we thankfully got the school that we wanted for Elsa. Here I am again, waiting, rather impatiently this time.
I’m waiting to hear about Anna’s special school placement. We should have known by the end of April, but here we are in May already.
Up until a year ago, I had absolutely no idea about the mystifying world that is Special Educational Needs (SEN). To get to where we are now started from the moment we embarked on this unexpected journey, which is just a year ago. In order to apply for a special education provision we need Anna to have an EHCP, which stands for an Educational Health & Care Plan. To be honest, it may as well just be called an Education Plan because, in my experience, I don’t really think it addresses the health or the care of the individual, just solely the educational needs of the child because that is where the funding comes in to play and it just seems like a tick the box exercise, whereby the local authority appears to be more concerned at the time constraints of getting the EHCP completed than the actual content itself. This is just my opinion and I hope that others have had a more positive experience.
It feels like we’ve had to jump through hoops to physically get to the point we are at at the moment and I’m worried because I know that there is a really strong chance that we won’t get the school we so desperately want. I know that that school would meet Anna’s needs perfectly but the fact is that we live in a highly populated borough, just outside of London and there are many children within the borough with special educational needs. I don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that there are many more children than there are specialist provision places and I’m worried because I know that Anna won’t cope in mainstream.
The other evening, when my email notification sounded I knew it would be the email notifying me of Anna’s place in mainstream at Elsa’s school. I wondered how I’d feel when I got that email and I can honestly say I felt absolutely nothing. I even surprised myself. I know it’s because Anna wouldn’t manage in that school. It’s absolutely the right school for Elsa because it is an amazing school and meets Elsa’s needs perfectly, but it isn’t the right fit for Anna. If Anna was my first child, and this was our first experience of choosing an education setting then I wonder if my choice would have been different, but having experienced it with Elsa, I know that the pace will be too fast for Anna and the number of children in the class too overwhelming.
With each day that passes I feel more anxious, and the fact that we have no date as to when we will find out about Anna’s specialist placement is excruciatingly frustrating. As a result, it’s started to consume my thoughts and I feel a little disconnected. It’s as if life is on hold until we know about schooI. I feel I can’t plan anything, because if we don’t get the school we so desperately want, the other alternatives won’t meet Anna’s needs so we will need to fight to get the right placement, which will mean going to a Tribunal with the local authority to fight for what Anna is entitled to. I feel like we’ve been fighting for a year already just to get to where we are now and I’m tired. Tired of the worry and the uncertainty that comes with not knowing where we’re going to be school wise come September, which is a surprisingly short time away.
Can you imagine if this was the way with mainstream applications? No, you can’t, because it wouldn’t happen. And that’s another reason why this is just so frustrating. In my experience so far, so much of Special Education Needs is mystifying. I’m convinced that it is like that on purpose so many people give up and go down the mainstream route to save the local authority money. It’s not even clear how we’ll be notified of a school placement, by email, phone call or letter? Who knows? If it’s bad news I guess they’ll send me an email on a Friday at 5pm so I can’t call them and vent my frustration (Sceptical, me? Never!).
I’m reading one book after another, my very own personal equivalent of chain smoking. When I watch TV, I find I can’t concentrate for very long and my mind starts to wander and before long I’ve lost the plot with what I’m watching. With books however it’s different, I can’t think of anything else when I’m reading the words on the page and so its complete escapism for the whole time the book is in my hand and I’m focused. I love books, proper books, not a kindle, I like the feel of the books, the smell of the books and I could spend hours and hours in a second hand book shop.
I need to find my feet again, because come what may, I need to find the energy to keep going and if needs be, to fight an epic battle to get the right school. I need to blow the cob webs away, find my positivity and play the waiting game whilst holding everything together.
A good friend of mine moved to the coast at the start of last year and when we visited them in their new home, they have in their kitchen a beautiful vase full of sea glass. I wasn’t very familiar with sea glass before that, but I completely fell in love with it. I love the way it feels; so smooth from being pummelled relentlessly by the sea and the sand and the colours are beautiful. I always feel so calm and grounded when I’m by the sea. It seems to bring with it a sense of calm and routine that I love. I can only marvel at the journey the sea glass has been on, what it started out as and how it ended up where it did. And maybe I feel a little like that sea glass; worn around the edges from constantly rolling in the waves, not really coming up for air not knowing where the tide will take me.
Last year, in France, we spent hours seeking and finding sea glass and we found a really good hoard, our very own little treasure pot of sea glass. It’s a great past time and one that we intend on repeating every year. Now we have our own bottle of sea glass in our kitchen.
So I’ve bought myself a little sea shell locket and inside I’ve put my favourite piece of sea glass. I’m wearing it every day as a continual reminder of such happy and calm times and that there are plenty more of those both now and in the future, despite how uncertain the future feels. (It also helps that our favourite Disney is Moana at the moment!).
If there is one thing I’ve learnt over the last year it’s holding on to all the good, and recognising that it’s all around me, whilst not letting my imagination run wild and be all consuming. These days, whatever situation I find myself in I realise that I actually do have the ability to choose how I react to that situation, therefore gaining some sort of control over my own mind set. If I didn’t have that ability, we wouldn’t have come as far as we have. I only need to look at Anna and see just how far she has come in the last year and I can only marvel at what we’ll be doing and where we’ll be come September and beyond.