I wrote a couple of weeks ago that my application for an EHC assessment for Katie was rejected (on the basis that she’s doing fine academically – no mention of social or emotional difficulties). I have put in an appeal and am now waiting on the outcome of that. As some additional evidence I sat down with Katie over the course of two evenings and did an ‘interview’ with her. She talked and I typed!
I tried really hard to make sure I wasn’t leading her or putting words in her mouth. I just asked her to talk me through her school day. What is the best part of school? What is the worst part? When you get to breakfast club what do you like or not like? Why? What is your classroom like? How does wearing your school uniform feel? Etc.
Katie doesn’t like talking about school and generally doesn’t like telling me about her day. She found doing this quite difficult and got tearful at points, but she also wanted to do it and gave permission for me to share it because she wants something to change. She’s fed up (and so am I) of feeling unseen and unheard. She needs to be given more support and an opportunity to start secondary school in an environment / setting that isn’t going to be so challenging for her that it causes damage that can’t be reversed.
“I feel sad about going back to school. Most of the teachers shout a lot about people fidgeting on their chairs or if we don’t understand the work. Children grab you all the time, it hurts and they don’t let go. It makes me worried. School makes my head hurt and my tummy hurt. My throat feels tight. Things that make me happy like riding don’t make me happy any more if I think about them when I’m at school.
My school cardigan is too thick but if I take it off its too cold. Tights are too itchy and they feel like they’re squeezing me and have pins in them. Seamless socks are better than normal ones but I don’t like them too loose so they have to be pulled up tight. I never want to wear normal socks again. My PE hoodie feels like I can’t move and I’m surrounded by everything.
I like breakfast club because there are lots of games but the teachers are always running around and they never listen to anything you say. I’m in the classroom before everyone else but then the others come running in being noisy and shouting. I would rather go in the classroom after everyone else when they’re calm and sitting in their places.
I don’t like it when other kids tell me to keep secrets.
There are too many people in the classroom, it’s busy and when people move around to get pencils they bash you. People get too close and poke each other and make too much noise. There is too much talking. I’m always getting watched by the teachers because I’m at the front. I want to sit at the back by the door because less people are crowding you and it’s better in the corner because people pay less attention to you and they’re not always staring. People are tapping each other with rulers or passing things under the table.
The cushion on my chair helps but the chair is really hard and small and uncomfortable. It hurts my back. It’s hard to sit straight with my feet on the floor and hands on the table like they want us to. It’s more comfortable to have a leg raised and bent but I get told off for not sitting properly. I have the cushion so I don’t wriggle so much. It helps a bit but it’s still uncomfortable on the chair. It would be easier to listen if I could move around more or get up, and then sit down to do my work.
Art is OK because it’s not loads of talking and sitting still, you can draw something and get on with it. I don’t like it when we have to sit down for so long. Writing hurts my hand but if I try to get it done quickly just so I can stop then I don’t get it done properly. Art / drawing is better because I can stop drawing for a minute and take little breaks.
They talk so loud and the teachers pick on you even if you don’t put your hand up. Then everyone stares at you. I don’t feel safe in the classroom with everyone. I used to go to the toilets and sit behind the mats because there’s no one there and no one can see you or stare at you. I still want to but I don’t any more because I would get pulled back out by my wrists and it hurts. I don’t know where to go now so I just sit and don’t do my work because it’s too noisy and don’t talk to anyone.
Lunch is in the hall with the whole school on 4 tables, everyone is too squished together. I try going in the library to eat but I’m only allowed to when *** is there. Other times I get told off and I have to go back into the hall. I hate going outside at break. Everyone is there, there is no space and everyone runs in to you. I don’t like people pulling me or touching me. All the hidden and quieter places are too muddy and we’re not allowed there at the moment. I stand by the door. When the teachers try and make me play on the scooters or something I do it for a bit because I have to but I go back to the door as soon as I can.
I like the reading corner because there are lots of cushions and a rug. It’s away from everything else.
In assembly we have to sit with our legs crossed, I don’t like to sit still and it hurts. We have to sit in a line together. I want to sit on the empty bench no one is using but I’ve been told no just go and sit down. We have assembly every day and it’s one of the worst parts of the day. There are too many people in the hall and everyone is squished together, I want to push people away from me to make them go away.
In PE everyone is running around and I don’t want them to bang in to me. People don’t care where you are they’re just running around all over the place. Football is OK as long as we’re not playing matches, dribbling round cones is OK. I don’t like running, I always feel like I’m going to fall over. I don’t like throwing balls in hoops in case they fall on my head. I can’t run and catch at the same time. People throw the ball too hard.
I have 2 friends at school who I like having, but it doesn’t really help because they can’t stop any of the stuff that happens like being picked on in class or the noise. I don’t think I will have any friends next year when they go to secondary school. I don’t really like anyone else.
I would like to be able to work on my own when it’s quiet, where I get short bits of information so I don’t need to start wriggling, and I can stand up. I like *** because if you don’t understand something she doesn’t get cross or give up and walk off, she explains it in a different way. She never gets angry and she has a nice voice and we’re allowed to move around a bit.
I want to go to secondary school because then primary school will be finished and I’m closer to being able to leave school. I want to go to the smallest school where there are hardly any people, or go to a big school so there are more places to hide except then I’d get in trouble for hiding so actually maybe not.”