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Experts do not know better

Fulltime Foster Carer - Harriet author of: A Less Ordinary Family

Experts do not know better

14th July 2016

Today we all woke up super early. Whilst Annie has been leaving the house to walk to school at 8am for the last two months, the rest of us have not had to get up and be ready to leave the house by 10am since before we moved here in May. Today is Lauren’s first day of school and we all need to be out of the house by 8.30am. Alice is also going to school today for a visit, so we all need to be up and dressed and ready to go!! The memory of morning pandemonium returns to me and we are all flying around the house in different directions trying to get ready.

We managed to leave on time, Lauren seemed the most calm among us. We walked across the park to school holding hands. I reminded Lauren to ask where the toilets are. I know this is not going to be top of the list of her priorities once she gets there, but I still remind her. I guess I can’t help but think of the practical things. We meet her class teacher in the school reception – she seems really kind, she introduced herself and showed Lauren round to the playground where her class line up to go in. She had organised two buddies to meet her and show her around over the next couple of days while she finds her feet. She left Lauren with the two buddies and then went back into school.

Lauren was nervous and she was hanging back with us, not wanting to join the buddies in the line. After a huge deep breath she left our side and joined the line. We stepped back to give her some space. The girls started chatting and Lauren soon looked more at ease. Just before we left her, she gave us a huge smile and wave as two more girls joined her in the line – two familiar faces – two girls she had met at our new church.

After we had watched Lauren go into school, we took Alice back to Reception for her school visit. She was wearing her new uniform proudly. We had arranged to meet the Inclusion Support worker who had been working with Alice on a powerpoint – something she could use to introduce herself to her peers at school. We were greeted by the Head Teacher, and the Assistant Head showed us around the school. We then went to the hall where they had gathered the year 2 children and the teaching staff.

The powerpoint was started. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind. I assumed it would have given information about Alice – about who she is, why we moved, a little bit about her medical condition and why she was in a wheelchair – I thought it would pre-empt some of the likely questions children have when they first meet her. Instead it was called ‘all about me’ – all the things she likes doing, what she likes at school, the things she is afraid of etc. It felt very self indulgent and made her the centre of attention. It also very carelessly talked about her fears – some of which were things she faced before coming into care. I know that I will be picking up the pieces for this one. I was so disappointed that an expert from Inclusion Support would not have thought this through and not thought about the best use of this time for Alice and her peers. I will now have to go back into school in September to do what should have been done today. It feels like another case of if you want a job doing well – then do it yourself! It is quite often the case that the experts do not know better!

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