Dear Karen Roberts and Kemal trust, it truly saddens me to have to be writing this to you because
All I really want is my child to have the education and support he is entitled to because of his EHCP.
My Name is Faye Farmer my family has all grown up and attended Thomas Bennett since it was very first put on to the land so many years ago, I am not talking about the new building you built but the original school.
I choose this school for my Children because of that connection and passion for seeing it at as school grow and develop, my oldest son Josh went to this school and he learned to love his education he supported his teachers and head teachers he was student voice and anti-bulling, he volunteered at the youth wing for many years, he is one of the success stories of the school with exam results that helped you achieve a better rating on your league tables. He had gifted was a gamma student, who also attended 6 form he may not have got quite the grades to get in to is university the first time missing out by a couple of points so instead of giving up on him you gave him the opportunity to stay re-take. Josh went on to graduate from Warwick University with a first in Batchelor of science and business and now works for a large company.
While he stayed to re-take you gave him a job in the base the very thing that I am fighting for now, you gave him a wage while he worked with the students and he helped them a lot, it worked because Josh had a sister and a brother just being diagnosed with autism he.
While Josh was taking his a levels his sister Niki joined the school and at first she was a model student, and a member of Gamma for English having had one of her poems published in the Thomas Bennett book, Niki moved up to this school having being put in a smaller tutor group as a student that may need support we as parents knew nothing about our children being autistic then no one had ever mentioned anything before until Niki started to struggle with the social environment of school and had a few incidents of others being unkind to her I am sure you will be able to check her school records and see what an affect this had on Niki, because you made the decision to excluded her many occasions because of this before finally excluding her forever, you see Niki didn’t just have
Autism anxiety she had Tourette`s we were fighting to get diagnosis so understanding her conditions so you would be able to support her better, after you excluded her she was sent to apc she was doing great until one day another student pulled her from the chair by the back of her hair and kicked and hit her in the head, we filed charges not to get the other student in trouble but so that she could learn that it was not ok to do that we had pressure to drop charges put on us by police and the school it was all caught on video which the police said we should watch because it was so bad,
Niki asked them to make sure the girl got given help for her anger issues and be made to take an autism awareness class.
But while Niki was at you academy you forgot that there was a frightened child who didn`t understand what was happening with her I refer you to the education psychology report it was the one thing they pointed out that stood out in their mind.
But that is not all and brings us to the point we are now fighting for the continuation and for you to put a hold on the planned cuts to your support staff and specifically the base.
On our journey with your academy, we were also having issues with my youngest son Jake at his.
He is also a student that was exceeding his targets in Maths English and Science but because he was being bullied by other children his he became frightened of school and because of an incident where he was held to the ground and with another child`s hands round his throat so yes this had an impact on Jake’s attendance and it took it affected him physically and made his conditions get really bad but he was just a child who was frightened to go to school, when he joined your school I had big reservations that you would be able to support him, given that Niki was excluded and yes I come into to school and challenge the staff when things are slightly changing and affecting Jake but that is not as a criticism it is a way to help you understand him and his needs so that he is in his classes and following what his support workers say, He has good days and not so good days but that all depends on him to continue to receive the support he does have on the days the support workers he has are helping other students because of lack of staffing it does truly affect him, I work alongside your team of support workers because I want my son to be mainstreamed school and yours is the only one that has the unit attached locally, because the specialist schools cannot achieve the academic side of things which he is more than capable of with the correct support, I have spoken on the news and radios but it is not my fight to stand up for the teachers really and I do feel as though I have to be there voice as well because there union and you have said they are not allowed to talk, and the kids here this gossip around the school and they are worried and scared because they don`t understand about budgets and the politics of the situation and nor should they go there to learn, so much more so they can go out into the adult world with passion and courage and determination and skills that will build them up for life, instead there seeing doctors and mental health specialist.
I am a proactive mother because I have been so unsupported by all the systems out there I am using my voice even though it cripples me with fear that my kids will be the ones to suffer for speaking out.
I stand up for the support we have now started to get after years of being sent through departments, I do it because I care about the students everyone else sees as a problem or a difficulty
Because these students don`t have that voice and they matter someone has to really care about them and look behind the behaviour someone has to care to get into their world and show them how they can achieve you don`t get that by giving up on them you don`t get that by taking away they only way of making it through school, you wouldn`t take a disabled person out of a wheel chair and say walk or you can`t be here.
I am asking if you would at least sit in a room with parents before you make a truly unexclusive that will impact them for the rest of their lives I don’t want to sit in a room with you and argue I want to be a part of finding a solution so these kids have the best chance.
The majority of your students have parents who I am sure put up a fight to save the six form, because their kids will be affected by this but even though there is a less amount of students that use the base now and in the future more kids are going through the diagnosis process there are many students at your school I am sure are at that stage of applying for statements.
This is for them the teachers have the union, the school, has yourselves you have local education departments they have the government you all have lawyers and the parents and kids have doors slammed in there face.
I would like to also add that although Jake doesn’t always understand directions but he is a student that is also writing a letter to you from what he sees but in that letter he fights for his teachers and other students and the base but not himself and how it has impacted him and will impact him because he doesn`t want to be selfish and talk about his needs he just wants to be treated like every other student, he wants to feel safe and secure so he can learn, he has only just received a laptop to type his work up after a occupational health advised that it would help him greatly with his work,
This aid has increased his work amount and his quality of his work it is evident especially in his English because he has just gone back up to top set, he was so anxious and focused on his handwriting and the teachers not understanding it because he has hyper mobile fingers something most autistic kids have he couldn`t do his work, the way for your autistic children at you school to thrive is to help them have an element of control in the situation, help them keep the space and staff who help them to gain control of it themselves in the quietness of the base without other students and teachers looking at them and talking to them while they are in the middle of anxiety.
Jake has a lot of negative thinking part of his condition and it is the helpers constant support and helping him understand he is safe and he can do it that makes a huge difference to weather Jake is in class or not, Jake had an incident in your school sports court that saw him with internal soft tissue injury to his back and given what he went through at the old school he needs the base as a safe place to go at breaks and so do many of the base student. Annie to the children is so important I have seen her work with them I have seen her explain to not only us parents and the kids but also the teachers. I have gone to meetings after school with her and Jake and sat down with the teacher Jake may have had an issue in the class with and every one worked together for a solution and Jake got to explain what it feels like for him Annie gives these children a voice when no one else will. Annie also noes if I think she is misunderstanding I will challenge and push her to find a solution.
For after all she is in charge, she is excellent at what she does. I have met many professionals that have no clue. Don`t make her a scapegoat she doesn`t run the school but she is passionate about her kids in the base and other students in the school who need support
I know this is a very long email but I don’t want to be invisible in this because they depend on me.
I do hope you will at least read this letter and spend a moment to reply.
But in case you don’t I will be publishing it. Because all I have is my voice.If you truly care about your students and your staff and are the fully inclusive school that does not discriminate based on race gender or disabilities or abilities like your websites and school prospectus says then you have all the ability to become an excellent academy people will queue to join if they see your staff and kids are expendable, then you simply won`t get the numbers to get yourself out of debt your schools are an example of the people managing them, and the rules sent from above.