Monday, November 18, 2013

Better To Home School Than One School

I was trying to overlook some of the comments such as :

"We've got over 2000 students and it sure is nice to have the seniors out of here this week,"

"There are the temporary classrooms for next year since we are so overcrowded and the building of the new school has been delayed yet again by budget restrictions,"

and "Argh, only one sports oval for 2000 kids,"

as quirkly British humour that I just didn't quite get yet.

Expectations at Soul Dance studio!

Except he was quick to point out that he was British, almost in a don't blame me, I'm not the idiot who came up with this school system, I'm just the idiot who couldn't find a better job when he emigrated here kind of way.

And, if this, like some of the embarrassingly ludicrous stuff I was shown and told while working with the US military, was supposed to be top secret and worthy of my trust stuff, I apologise. I haven't blabbed on the US military – except to Lori – and trust me, it is nothing new or surprising, what happens when you stick a bunch of jocks in isolation with guns and people they've been told are the bad guys – but I don't think Narangba Valley's reputation will be hurt by my one and only dissenting opinion. (Two if you count the farrier, but then, somehow noone ever does!) 

Saddling up for PE!

DISCLAIMER:  IT IS ONE OF THE BEST SCHOOLS IN THE STATE.  It has an awesome reputation, excellent NAPLAN results, schools of excellence in academics, sports and the arts.  Really, I have nothing against this school.  IT IS A FINE SCHOOL.  It just didn't show me that it would be the place for my daughter.  I blame the system, not the school.  (Man, I am turning into such a wuss!)

I'd like to think that there is a big warning written all over my childrens' One School records from a previous principal at „our old school“ warning anyone who opens the records that they, under no circumstances, want this mother in their school.

Something along the lines of: WARNING: THIS WOMAN IS GOING TO HAVE EXPECTATIONS!!!  

Because this would explain the lack of help. Was he trying to discourage us from sending our daughter there?

Crafts?  Home-Ec?  ICT?  Whatever.  My daughter made a hay-net.  Without me.

Sadly, I don't think this is true. For one thing, I think parental expectations are just that low to begin with. Secondly, he was so proud of that damn computer program.

As if Australia's ability to get all of their schoolchildrens' academic records inputted onto a computer program amounted to its ability to give them a decent education.

I cannot be the first to consider One School to be Done School.

"They're proud that they've got the second names of all the family members in there?“ as Damon asked.

Not that it isn't a tough family to keep straight!

How would we be able to monitor Ryan's progress? One School.

How would we be able to communicate with the school? One School.

How would her teachers be made aware that Ryan needed special help?

He kept swinging that laptop screen at us, as proud as a child at Christmas with his new toy.

For starters, Ryan has a medical diagnosis, not an education one, he said.

Okay, I said, let's get her the educational one.

Ah, that's just a lot of paperwork and a big hassle and that's all my job and let's just get her in here and deal with all this – 2000 kids you know – and then we'll worry about that once we settle down in 2014.


Whalewatching.  Science.

(In retrospect, I think it is just that an overcrowded school of over 2000 kids with an already excellent reputation doesn't need to bother to impress us and doesn't particularly care whether our child attends or not.  We either take it or leave it.  They don't need us.)

Okay. Strike one. So, how does this special education centre work? Are there classes or groups?

See that room?

Uh huh. 

She can sit there if she has to.

Sit there?

Yeah.  If it gets too stressful she can come here to get away.

Damon and I must have looked underwhelmed.  

Or do her homework, he added.

Homework. Okay. I grasped for something tangible. Her psychologist recommends no homework, or minimal homework.

Tuck Shop!  (Lunch at Tickle Beach.)

He whipped out the school diary – at least it wasn't bloody One School – and showed us the assessment expectations – for every child, in every class, in every year, for the entire school for the entire year.

So much for tailoring education to meet ANY individual's needs.

What about a mentoring program, you know, other children in the special needs unit, who can mentor each other.   Ryan, as very high-functioning, would be perfect for that.

No. Don't have that.

Dead silence. I mean, where do you go with that? One of the top special education centres in the state doesn't have programs for the kids to help one another? Where is all the extra money they get (20,000 per kid/per year) going? AFL stadium? Dance costumes?

No Mom.  You never looked like this.  Even at 14.

We must have looked – again – underwhelmed – because he then mentioned that, if there were problems, she could drop a class. But she would have to speak up or how else would they know she has problems?

What, your bloody One School program wouldn't tell you that?!

I guess my shock made me miss the next comment – that or Ian's temper tantrum when Damon wouldn't let him colour outside of the lines (and, to be fair, on his hand, arm and shirt!) - but Damon told me later the guy looked over at him and asked

 „Is that one having an autistic moment?“

Understanding of autism as a developmental disorder (they act like 2 year olds!) - A. Sense of humour – British and therefore incomprehensible to us. Sense of place – in a special needs centre with a family of an autistic child seeking help for that child AND with said autistic child present – F. I actually find it funny, but it doesn't bode well for how seriously they are going to take my daughter's needs.
At least the 2 year old comes with a disclaimer!
But I hadn't heard it. Things were really quite civil – although he did not offer us tea – since I was getting calmer and calmer as every check was checked off. No. They were not going to do ANYTHING for my child. Guilt of staying home and riding and gypsy dancing absolutely ZERO!

So I tried some more. Again, how will the teachers be prepared to help her, how will they know she needs help. I guess he saw One School wasn't impressing us by that time – like a teacher with 8 classes of 30 students a day is going to take it upon themselves to look at the computer program of each of their students – because he brilliantly told me that the squeaky wheel gets oiled.

I actually squeaked.

But SHE has to do it, he said.

But she won't, I said. She will not throw chairs, she will not cause fights, she will sit in the back of the room, unnoticed unless we help her.

Oh, we like the quiet ones, he said.

I bet.

THESE are the ones you wanna watch out for!
(Two Saracen Knights - costumes courtesy of Soul Dance! - and one zombie.)

So, is she coming to Transition Day?

Uh? We haven't received an invite. How will they know she is coming?

Silly me. On the One School of course.

Could we SEE an invite, just to uh ,know what to bring and......?

Holds up a pen.

Hey dude, do you have alternative religious choices at your school?!  And what about surfing?

Okay. And when?



9 – 11.

Was I supposed to know this?

Or was he just in a rush to get us out of there before the bell rang?

Christmas pageant.  The wise kings?

As far as interviews go, it was a perfect success. We left absolutely confident – without a doubt – that our expectations and our daughter's needs – would not even be attempted to be met by this particular school.

As described, this school program was a one-size fits all mold that they were quite proud to have gotten onto a computer.

I laud them for their data entry skills. But how much you wanna bet we show up for Transition Day next week and noone knows – or cares – who she is?  (Update:  No, they did not have her on the list .  But, they did get her name off the computer and give her a pass into the school anyway.)

Thank you so much, NVHS, for making it so clear, that as fantastic as your school is, there is no place in it for my daughter, that her needs and my expectations will not be met there and  that she will be far better educated at home.

Ryan's costume for Bohemienne Dreams, the community dance troupe we have joined.  Now she can dance at community functions during weekdays, guilt-free.   You think you miss opportunities not going to school?  Think of all that you are missing while you are stuck there!!!

Although I got younger siblings still keeping their options open, so don't breathe easy yet!

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