What does the term ‘Every Child Matters’ mean to you? Well, it didn’t mean much to my secondary school.
In my previous two posts: Early Years and Movers and Shakers, I discussed my issues at school, particularly my issues in a mainstream secondary school. Granted certain teachers and teaching assistants were great but as a whole, secondary school got on my nerves.
I was kept in a room during breaks and lunchtimes as the playground was considered ‘unsafe’ and I needed to be watched all the time. I couldn’t go out of the room without the assistants telling me off.
This caused me to struggle in classes and group activities, as I didn’t have many friends. Then they had the audacity to tell me that I wasn’t making enough effort into making friends. I was beyond angry at this.
As I continued through the school, people loosened the reins on me – I was able to have more freedom and allowed to go out of the school. As this happened, my confidence grew. But I feel that the early years of my secondary school were vastly affected by this.
I couldn’t socialise with anyone my own age because you cannot talk in class and the other kids were not allowed inside when it was break or lunchtime.
However, when I was allowed outside, I did socialise. I loved my new group of friends. I was having so much fun, I admit I was slightly rebellious, skipping assembly, but it’s called being a kid. I’m sure we’ve all done it at least once.
Anyway, this group of friends taught me to have more confidence in myself and to make my own decisions. Thanks to my new friends, I have tried new things and new experiences. They encouraged me to be independent and have my own voice.
The one I’m most proud of was being able to catch the bus with my friends without my parents or another person accompanying me.
However, when the secondary school kept me in for the first few years, it did impact on my social skills. I had to learn social queues and friendships relatively quickly when I was finally allowed in the playground. I feel I may have caught up now though and that is the main thing.
In secondary school, I went through a roller coaster of emotions. I took the good times with the bad. The main thing that matters is the fact that I got through it and I’m a better person because of it. Probably stronger and resilient too.
But it did leave me with another awful and unforgettable experience that actually made me anxious to stay away from home for quite a long period of time. This was the school trip to Barcelona.
Barcelona… A Trip From HELL
Before the academic year came to the end, the school put on trips abroad. In past years, I’ve really enjoyed the trips. However, one year, I went to Barcelona. It started off ok; I had organised to share a room with a friend. However, she couldn’t come, so I had to share my room with one of the teaching assistants…
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that we all must have our own free time but the teaching assistant took it to extremes. After our busy days out, they helped me to bed and went downstairs for hours at a time.
I found this upsetting and I felt an intense level of injustice. Don’t they understand that my disability reframes me from moving in bed? I felt very defensive.
Plucking up the courage, I asked them to stay while I was in bed as I found it uncomfortable. Their comment outraged me, ‘It’s called independence’ I didn’t know what to say.
They also came out with ‘We’ll get the headmaster to talk to you if you don’t calm down.’ Oh, come on, I knew what my rights are and I’m not scared of the headmaster.
Up until this point, I hadn’t told my parents what was happening, I didn’t want to worry them. They still were under the impression that my friend was with me in Barcelona. When my parents knew, they were furious.
This knocked my confidence. I was scared of being alone. People kept saying, I should take legal action against the school – but I didn’t want to give the school the satisfaction of thinking they’ve got to me.
Over the years, this affected how I felt when I went away, including to PHAB Camp. Now, as an adult and as a student at University, I have had to get used to staying away, so I have overcome the anxiety and upsetting experience of being left in a room by myself but it is different being left in a room with no one to talk to when on holiday compared to settling down for the night after a long, hard day at uni.