I took Joshua into school yesterday as I had the first appointment at Open Morning to see his teacher. He was happy to arrive at school and dashed off towards the entrance, barging past the teaching assistant that was waiting for him, so that he could have a quick kick of the glass doors, which amused him. Without a backward glance, he disappeared upstairs to 6th form showing me that he clearly knows his school routine, even if I had confused him by driving rather than his usual taxi. As my appointment was not until 9.30, I chatted to other parents who were also waiting to see their teachers.
When Joshua’s teacher arrived, all of the set-out tables were full and so we sat on comfy chairs instead. She told me that he had been lively all term and that he was certainly showing his sense of humour and that twinkle in his eye, while he planned his next mischievous move. The focus for his final year is to prepare Joshua as best they can to leave this safe, familiar environment. I had a list of questions for her, mainly asking for additional experiences for him in his final year of school : I know 6th form have access to a flat where they cook and eat together and do domestic chores, but Joshua has never been there, so I made that request as I am sure he would enjoy the change of scene. It is accessible, so she could not see why he could not attend. His timetable suggests that he will swim three times a week in the hydrotherapy pool but that has not been happening due to the staffing requirements. I explained how good it was for him and how much he enjoyed the freedom in the warm water, so she said that she would try to give him two swimming opportunities each week in the future.
A group of more able 6th formers are doing the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and they all went on a residential last week. I asked if there could be a residential trip for the less able young people. There will be 15 of them leaving school next summer, Joshua included, and so I asked that they have a trip away together – even if it was just one overnight stay. I have understood that Joshua has missed out on several school trips away where they have been outdoor activities – such as kayaking and rock climbing – as he would not be able to participate. But as an inclusive special school, I feel strongly that all pupils should have these social opportunities, so I hope that they will be able to make that happen in time for Joshua’s departure. That was one of the things that I loved when we had a tour of the school back in 2010, the head teacher had told us all about the residential trips that the children went on and I loved the idea that Joshua could be given such an exciting opportunity. Yet the reality is that, in 8 years at that school, Joshua has been on one overnight stay in a forest and I would like him to ideally have another opportunity before July.
Joshua is unable to ask for opportunities that he might like to experience and he is probably unaware of the activities that his peers are undertaking; so it is my job to be his eyes, ears and voice and in this life, we do not get if we do not ask, so let’s see what happens next.