The Power to Inspire
I started last week meeting two young people who had both been completely failed by the education system. I was sat on an appeal hearing for Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments. I actually had to hold back my tears as we saw the relief on a Mum’s face as the panel awarded her son the benefit he was clearly entitled to. He had complex neurodiversity needs for which he had had limited support at school. As a result, he had been homeless, tried to commit suicide, he had been abused in a residential school over 3 years ago and, for some bizarre reason (that I am sure whoever the authorities are who are in charge would give a very clear answer to!), as the case yet to be heard, he had been denied access to CAMBS.
A young woman we saw was in a similar situation. She had no support at school, been excluded more times than I remember, had left with no qualifications and since leaving education had been diagnosed with ADHD.
Schools had failed both of these young people.
On Saturday I spent my day with THE most inspiring educators you would want to meet. You would want any of them to be supporting your child. I was at BrewED North London.
For anyone not in the education sector, these are events where teachers meet on a Saturday or during school holidays (for obvious reasons!), come together to hear from others in their profession, share best practice oh, and have a glass of something during the day! (Why else would they call it BrewEd?!)
The organisers of the event (The amazing Emma Kell, Neil Jones and Adrian Bethune) had spent many hours deliberating whether they should cancel the day for obvious reasons! In the end, they decided to go ahead with it, after all, schools are remaining open so the majority of those that were there will be in school, meeting and teaching and supporting children so what difference would meeting make to them.
The richness of the day truly enabled the passion and motivation of why people choose to go into the teaching profession to shine through. We heard from a newly qualified teacher, whose natural ability to hold the attention of his audience and get his message over was astonishing. We took part in an amazing exercise showing the impact of a wealth of different privileges, or the lack of, on all our lives and we heard how a 10-minute coaching conversation at a bus stop can change someone’s life.
We heard from a SENCO, who was also the mum of three children with disabilities who won a battle with the local education authority after her son had lost years of education through being excluded from school we also heard from another SENCO about the power of truth and the crucial importance of building strong relationships with parents
A Head spoke of their journey to becoming a headteacher and how, on their first day, they were advised by members of the Senior Leadership Team NOT to disclose to pupils, in an inner-city school that they are Muslim! When they asked a group of young boys if they were fasting (as it was Ramadan) they whispered yes. When asked why they were whispering, they disclosed they would be bullied if anybody found out. The Head now sits and talks with them over lunchtime during Ramadan.
The room was full of motivated and highly skilled teachers and other educators, passionate about making a difference for the next generation. As someone who has only recently become part of the education sector, I was truly inspired.
My only sad thought is why then, are teachers leaving their profession that they truly love, are inspired by, and make a difference through their incredible skills? And why is it that there are still some schools that are failing children so badly.