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You trust the school though, don't you?

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

I admit I was naive about social services back in 2005, but the kids dad C, certainly wasn't. Although we were separated, we stayed in contact for the kids, and even ran the Netherfield Community Allotment together, for which I was Chairman. I assumed we had nothing to fear from social services, yes we had been through a difficult time but post separation we seemed to be doing better. C, though, was worried. His family had historic experience of social services and it wasn't good. He wasn't keen on engaging with them, didn't trust them one bit. Me, however, naive innocent me, welcomed the social workers in, eager to engage and accept any support offered. But the promises of respite and help never materialised. And they never would. They were looking for 'concerns'.


By 2007, my youngest son K started in nursery at Netherfield Primary school. We had, as a family, been seeing paediatricians for several years, I had raised concerns about autism, dyslexia, and PDA but despite ongoing appointments no formal diagnosis was issued. D at this point had been in education for 3 years, yet had failed to learn to read even the simplest words. His dad C was dyslexic and I mentioned this to school, but was told at the time dyslexia wasn't recognised in the under 7s. Ok I thought, so I researched, found Dyslexia Action in Nottingham Town centre, booked myself on a course, and learned how to teach using the Alpha to Omega system. I then deregistered D, set up a home school, and against all advice I taught him to read. Within 6 weeks, D had gone from recognising 8 letters of the alphabet and writing none, to writing simple sentences. I knew my son was intelligent and I knew school was failing him. And now I'd proven it.


Netherfield primary school

2007 was also the year K got his first 'restraint policy'. Remember K was born in 2004 so he would have been 3 years old. He was displaying unusual and sometimes challenging behaviour consistent with PDA, and I did ask what the restraint policy entailed exactly. It was explained that I was just consenting to staff using physical contact to 'keep him safe', that I was giving permission for someone to physically remove him from danger or prevent him causing himself or others harm. I got that, K could be quite defiant and I trusted school, so I agreed.


I home educated D for 6 months, and when I felt he could keep up with his peers at school, I worked with school to return him. By this time, the old head Steve Fitzpatrick had retired, and a new head Sharon Jackson arrived. She initially started at school under another surname, but decided to use Jackson as she explained she was getting married soon and didn't want to confuse the children. She breezed in like a movie star, all glamour and 6 inch heels, and set about modernising the school. She was a breath of fresh air, bringing in new systems to support additional needs, new younger staff with new ideas, the school seemed energised and the kids were loving it. After my experience with home educating D, I began working in school, supporting target children at risk of falling behind, in years 1 and 2. Teachers identified children who were then referred to me, I would individually assess each child, and devise individual lessons focusing on their weaknesses. The majority of children had improved significantly within 6 weeks, and the success of my interventions led to the school being awarded dyslexia friendly status.


School letter personally signed

However, things were not as they seemed. Despite years of raising concerns about my boys behaviours, with me repeatedly suggesting autism to CAMHS, we were no further towards any explanation or diagnosis. Behaviour interventions at school on both D and K were continuous and I was concerned. Sharon Jackson started attending paediatric appointments with us, for 'support'. By 2011 I was insisting they were assessed by someone other than CAMHS, and Dr Jane Williams paediatrician referred all 3 boys, D B and K, for ADOS assessments in Nottingham City hospital children's unit. These assessments lasted 2 hours each time, and appointments were months apart throughout 2012. D and K were being physically restrained at school repeatedly, and I was repeatedly told this was for their own safety. K became extremely aggressive, kicking and hitting staff who attempted to restrain him. K experienced more than 40 recorded restraints in 2010, more than 80 restraints in 2011, and in 2012 K had 156 recorded physical restraints, restrained by up to 2 members of staff, for up to half a day at a time. Ks behaviour was wild at school whatever they tried, but he wasn't like that at home. Things came to a head when K started self harming, gouging deep wounds into his feet, smashing his head against school walls. He hated school and hated school staff. In October 2012 we saw Dr Williams again...


Excerpt of paediatrician letter

Excerpt of paediatrician letter

What I was witnessing was the systematic abuse of my children by multiple adults, but how do you accuse a trusted institution like a school, of abuse?


All I knew was, if I had been physically restraining my child, physically overpowering him, while he screamed and cried and desperately struggled, if I was doing this to my own child on a daily basis, for years, to force their compliance to my demands, it would be considered child abuse.


But this was a school, aren't they supposed to know best?

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