Tuesday, saw the publication of the Timpson Review on exclusions. As I was replying to emails in my PJs on Tuesday morning, I got an email from Channel 5 News, no less, asking me to comment on the review. After a brief telephone chat with news editor, they decided to do a face-to-face interview at my house. Eeek, I got dressed, made up and tidied the house in record time! The interview went out on Channel 5 news to co-incide with the report’s publication.
Aside from me sharing my story, it’s a story that’s all too relatable. Even though the soundbite is that ‘exclusion from school shouldn’t mean exclusion from education,’ for many thousands of children and young people and their families, especially from the Black Caribbean community, that’s exactly what it does mean!
Here’s the video, my segment’s right at the beginning. Do tell me what you think of the piece.
Arrived back from doing a huge talk in Birmingham at Khembe’s Return to Your Roots about autism and ADHD and their impact on Black children who are often diagnosed later or misdiagnosed (Institute of Education) and are pretty near the top of the exclusions table (Department for Education). I set up the #happyinschool project less than a year ago and have smashed many goals, without realising. Not specifically financial goals, but goals that have a value beyond monetary. I’m talking about building a sense of value and credibility in my brand. How?
1. I take risks, putting myself well out of my comfort zone.
2. I’m know who I want to engage and I like the engagement.
3. I’ve researched my specialism for the past 8 years.
4. I’m passionate about what I’m doing.
5. I use every scrap of experience (good and bad) from my corporate communications, copywriting and marketing career, to boost engagement and present a professional and consistent brand. I won’t lie, there have been long nights and flashes of the dreaded imposter syndrome, especially with so many autism and ADHD experts to pick from. Then I remember what I’m doing is about people, families, fairness, equality, shifting mindsets and my heart breathes a sigh of relief. I’m working with values I believe in and they’re tangible to me. The educators and families I work with experience this first hand. Take THAT imposter syndrome!
I’ve been knocked sideways by the support and positive feedback from parents and look forward to seeing you at the next session at the White House in Hampton. Click on the link below of fill in the contact form. There is still much to share:
Ahh, the brick wall. You know you’ve hit one when everything you do points you right back to where you started. Well, I’m not a magician (although some would argue to the contrary), but I believe the brick wall is an illusion, one designed to keep you in your place, on the back foot, in a mental or psychological prison.
Here are some ideas to help you get around, over the top, or just smash through these brick walls:
Remind yourself of why you started to do the thing you are doing, write it down, write down what you want to achieve (your goal).
Look at the brick wall, really look at it. Face it down. Is it a person, a group of people, an organisation? A number of organisations? You may feel intimidated but pack this feeling in a box and put on a suit a suit armour. Most dragons can be slayed; you just need to know where to strike.
Your first strike is doing some research, use your information to weaken the mortar between the bricks. There is truckloads of practical and legal information out there. Select stuff to read and research that answers your exact questions, don’t get side-tracked. And if this is too challenging for you due to time pressures, work or family commitments, make sure you know which charities or advice groups to and what their specialism is.
Keep pushing ahead. Do not lose sight of what you are fighting for. Try to fight for one thing at a time or at least be clear about what you want to achieve.
Have a questioning attitude – ask why or why not?
Don’t give up.
Keep smiling, even when you feel like crying.
Remind yourself of all the other brick walls you shinned over… see! They vanished too 🙂
The next #happyinschool project workshops are on 30th April, Greenwood Centre, School Road, Hampton Hill, Greater London TW12 1QL.You can book tickets here.
So many children and young people are disadvantaged by their learning difficulties or neurological difference. I believe that every child or young person should be encouraged to be the best they can, supported, stretched. Praised for their efforts and achievement; there is always space to grow, learn all of which can improve self-esteem and a sense of well-being and happiness.
Difference doesn’t need to be a short-hand for disadvantage. The routes for learning are many and varied, it is our job as parents and educators to find as many entry points to learning as possible. We all know what the barriers are, many children are stumbling over them every day. There are many creative ways to access channels to learning but our education system has chopped them down to a few. Many talented, educators and pupils find these few routes restrictive, uninspiring. But there are others ways; not all of them costly.
My concern is that currently teachers just can’t spare the time to explore new and alternative learning styles in a busy mainstream classroom, as so eloquently explained in this opinion piece: But I’m optimistic when I read about a 16-year old autism advocate who is promoting a NeuroDiversity Celebration Week between Ma7 13 – 17, asking headteachers and SENCOs to sign up. Will you share it with your place of learning: www.Neurodiversity-Celebration-Week.com
Sounds rather grand doesn’t it? Hampton Court Palace isn’t far but don’t let that fool you. The Hamptons is a lovely place to live and comprises Hampton Village, Hampton Court (home to the palace), Hampton Wick, just a hop from Kingston Upon Thames and Hampton Hill, not too far away from neighbouring Teddington. But just like every town and and city in the UK, the Hamptons is home to a variety of families, experiencing very different lives.
I can’t wait to host the #happyinschool workshops at the Greenwood Centre; it’s a great local community centre, with several nursery schools, infant and junior schools within walking distance. The Greenwood Centre used to have its own charity shop and newsletter but sadly both are wound up. I think it’s important to support local community centres and I’m looking forward to meeting lots of parents.
In my capacity of #happyinschool project founder and principal trainer, I meet parents from all walks of life, who have children with disabilities. It’s a real eye-opener; disability of any type, is a great leveller. I love how parents relate stories about their kids and the things they do to support their experience of the world.
One parent purchased about twenty boxes of cereal with a cartoon character that their boy loved, only to discover a few week’s later, that his obsession with that character had passed! A mother revealed that she buys highly calorific snacks for her child, as his heightened sensory responses to certain foods have resulted in weight loss. Then there’s the parent who get to work late, travelling in the rush hour, so her daughter can be dropped off to school at the exact time when the children are going into the classroom. Why does she do this? Because her daughter doesn’t like waiting in the playground in the mornings – the noise levels and intense pre-school conversations cause her anxiety levels to rise significantly. Not the best start to her day. All of these different experiences bind us together.
One of the most powerful things we discuss in the #happyinschool sessions, is how to articulate our child’s needs without resorting to anger, sarcasm or passivity. Feelings can run high when parents and educators are in discussions about what accommodations are reasonable for a child with additional needs. Due to funding challenges, changes in the law and school behaviour policies, conditions are perfect for opprobrium on both sides.
Learning how to recognise our behaviours under pressure and that of our children and their teachers, is a powerful step towards reaching a successful outcome. Although in reality, it’s just one step of many.