There is no question that things would have been different if they had said sorry. It doesn’t change the past, of course, but it has the power to change future direction and how the future is experienced.
- If they had said sorry then I would never have followed my instincts to probe further and would never have requested Peter’s records. I would have remained ignorant and naive.
- If they had said sorry this blog wouldn’t exist.
- If they had said sorry I wouldn’t have had the drive to expose how things can be…
- If they had said sorry relationships would be different and the nasty atmosphere that sometimes envelopes us (due to their own discomfort I suspect) would probably not exist.
- If they had said sorry I think that everyone would feel better (including them). As it is it’s all in the air with no resolution.
There were many opportunities to say sorry. The first was probably after Peter’s clinical psychologist (CP) had written her report and attended the first school meeting. She was very experienced and had been assessing Peter for nearly a year. She had carried out home, clinic and school based assessments. In the preceding months, I had been bombarded with unsolicited opinions from the class teacher, SENCO and head teacher. Peter is normal, normal, NORMAL. They “KNEW” their children. I was horribly naive and totally confused as to why teachers were telling me stuff about complex child psychology – when we had a child psychologist to do that… Anyway, the CP came to the meeting to explain all but sadly was not allowed to say anything without being interrupted. She was advised by the teachers that what she had observed was likely to be due to Peter’s ‘home circumstances’. Peter’s CP respectfully noted that if that were the case then their referrals would be skewed for single parent families and that was not the case.
Perhaps the second opportunity came when Peter had a second separate CAMHS CP assessment, followed by a multidisciplinary diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.
Nope. Not then either. In Year 3 I asked for a full assessment of his educational needs. They responded by bringing in a Learning Support Teacher (in their words ‘to provide evidence that Peter is progressing well in school’). Her findings indicated Peter may have dyslexia (he does) and she made ⅔ of a page of recommendations. The response from the class teacher was as follows “I am happy to try different approaches on the advice of professionals but only where they do not contradict my own professional judgement”.
Peter moved school.
Unbeknown to me the hand over from school to school was unsafe, unprofessional… diabolical. See here. I thought we would get a fresh start and more normal professional responses and relationships.
A year later, and in an even more desperate situation, I compiled a VERY LONG document of all of the evidence that Peter needed support and practically begged them to consider it. Their response was nasty. I appealed. More unhelpful responses and again the opportunity to change the direction of travel via a simple apology and fresh start was lost.
Peter started medication for anxiety. He was just 9 years old.
Around this time a sentence in the CAMHS consultant’s letter triggered in me the realisation that all was not what it seemed. I started to find out about asking for copies of Peters file and over the next 9 months bit by bit I managed to retrieve pretty much all of his files. It would be another 6 months after that before I could face reading them though. If I had received an apology I would never have read them.
Six months after starting the medication (beginning of Year 5) Peter entered a regressed dissociated state and was very, very, sick. He lost years of cognitive, physical and developmental skills and we didn’t know if he would recover. The Hospital Consultant Psychiatrist assessed and concluded: “…a magnitude of difficulties including his significant learning challenges, his sensory issues and the difficulties relating to his peers and most likely bullying. He also appears to have trauma symptoms from his previous educational experiences” He was put on the national waiting list for a children’s psychiatric bed. School had it all explained in a meeting with the CP.
At last, they understood and apologised, supported me and reassured me they would now do all they could to help. Not really, only kidding. They wrote a 3-page letter to children’s services alleging immediate risk of serious harm due to me fabricating and inducing his mental illness. Not a single phrase in the letter was true or accurate. Well aside from the odd remark about how ‘CAMHS would say that he is very ill’, or something similar.
Six weeks after Peter’s admission to hospital the conclusion of the intensive multi disciplinary assessment was that Peter now needed a specialist residential school. By coincidence, on the same day, social services files record “School think Peter is fine and mum is fabricating”.
No apology then. Well, actually that isn’t quite true. One evening the SENCO called me and said that she was really sorry that this was happening to my boy. Hmmm. A lone voice. I wasn’t quite sure what she was sorry about.
More months passed and one day I opened the massive files that had come as a result of my subject access request. Oh. My. God. I shook solidly for three days. I literally howled down the phone to the CP sobbing and screaming “they will never, ever, stop”.
The contents of the files are incredible. Firstly there was that 3 page referral to Children’s Services. I emailed the head teacher at the school responsible and asked to talk to them about it. They refused. Ugh. I would have to put it in writing then. I did that. No apology. Another missed opportunity.
Six months later I compiled all of the contents of the information that related to one head teacher into a timeline that spanned 3 ½ years. I included only information that was recorded by a third party professional. Basically, everything that the one head teacher had said to colleagues and that had been recorded by them. It clearly indicated concerning patterns of behaviour including, for example; repeated failures to acknowledge expert opinion, repeated failures to follow safeguarding procedures and repeated slander towards me. They refused to follow their own complaints policy and of course there was no acknowledgement or apology.
And so it all goes on. What a truly toxic environment. Attack and defend at all costs, including your own integrity and professionalism abounds it seems.
There is no doubt that things would be different if they had said sorry. I would still be far more gullible and naive. I wouldn’t have sought information and support from others and learned all that I have; that governance or accountability in education is practically impossible to find, that the culture doesn’t seem to foster or encourage integrity, that practice often doesn’t follow logic, let alone an evidence base.
I certainly wouldn’t have been driven to find a platform to share my experiences in the hope that by sharing my thoughts and reflections on the system others would feel less isolated and more empowered. I wouldn’t have the confidence I have now nor would I have been able to support others who are being treated the same as us by professionals who can’t see what they are not trained or motivated to notice.
“Peter is fine, it must be mum”. I’m quite sure some still believe this even now. After all fragile beings find it hard to be wrong, and there are very certainly some fragile beings leading our schools it seems.
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