|-a mother's story|
|Why is it that parents choose to home educate? What sways them in their decision? Are they lazy, canít be bothered to get up in the morning? Maybe they are attention seeking, even suffering from an attention seeking disorder? Do their children cause problems at school, or maybe theyíve suffered bullying?
My personal decision to home educate my son, encounters one of the above, although I donít have an attention seeking disorder. My decision to home educate my son, comes after almost 2 years of consultation with my sonís ex-primary school, regarding racist bullying. My son is 8 years old, and of mixed parentage. I label him with that title, as others donít see him, first and foremost as a little boy, but see his colour. My son was bullied for over 2 years.
My son attended the school whilst I worked full-time within the media industry, upon graduating. I strongly admire my sonís courage, considering what he had to endure. What Iím about to write about, is highly personal to us. It still brings tears to my eyes, and utter dismay. Any normal mother would have similar highly emotive feelings.
When my son first attended school I was an under-graduate. Upon graduating, I volunteered at the school, toying with the idea of entering the profession of primary education so I taught there on a voluntary basis. Members of staff treated me cautiously, as a divorcee (not allowed with the Catholic faith). Also, as I married out of my class and race, they were already cautious of me, making decisions personally about me, that I was later to encounter. They didnít really involve me in their discussions, in the staff room. At the time I didnít see any connection with this and how my son might be treated. I am not one for small-talk, and refuse to pay lip-service to my then faith to get recognition.
Whilst I was working as an Advertising Executive, my son attended After School Club, which collected him from school. On two separate occasions, less than four weeks apart, whilst at work, I received frantic phone calls saying my son had been forgotten, and was wondering around the school playground!!! The calls werenít from the school, but from a friend, and trainee teacher. Why was my son forgotten? How could they have made such a mistake? Anything could have happened to him? A friend and Social Worker suggested I report them to OFSTED, for negligence. I also spoke with the Centre Manger, outlining my fears of this being racist. He strongly denied any racist connection. I was later to learn that my son was being bullied there.
Outlined below are quotes he was directed with:
ĎYou canít play with us because youíve got brown skiní.
ĎHah, youíre gayí.
ĎF**k off, and shut-up, you b*****dí.
He was regularly the recipient of Ďaccidentísí, which resulted in him being injured. The Accident Book held his name, accounting this. I wasnít always told of the Ďaccidentsí. I didnít realise the extent of his un-happiness, until he joined allegiance with a friend, also being called Ďgayí. His friends parent, and myself, informed the manager, who reassured us heíd stop any further incidents. Feeling dreadful, that Iíd failed my son, I pressed him further, regarding the bullying. I was shocked to realise the extent, and ferocity involved. Considering Iíd been informing his Primary School of his bullying, I cried myself to sleep that night, deeply upset for my son.
My poor little man, his life was so miserable. Not only was he being bullied at Primary School, but also at the after school club. I had no choice, but to leave full-time employment and this was made easier as I was made redundant from my current job. Also, as the area we live in is predominantly white, we were already having problems with some of our racist neighbours.
Weíd already been threatened, sworn at, had property stolen and generally feared for our safety. The decision, for me, was an easy one to make. Exasperated, I continued visiting the school, informing them of his bullying. In between this, my son attended the local GP, for recurrent urine infections, urinating blood. He also had nose infections, caused by punches to the nose.
One may ask why I chose to home educate? What did the school do to support us? They agreed to my teaching Cultural Diversity at an after-school club at the school, on a voluntary basis. They agreed to talk to the parents of the children continually bullying my son. This wasnít enough. Exasperated, I threatened to go the press, and wrote to all the governors within the school. This still didnít work. Bullying incidents went un-noticed by staff. My son came home cut and bruised almost every day. I was a regular face within the school office. I came to the difficult decision to home educate, as I felt that the LEA, OFSTED, Social Services and local Police werenít taking our case seriously.
I have been called a prostitute, paedophile and several other derogatory names, all to my face, by parents at the school. What parent would choose to send their child to school to be bullied? Especially since the school refused to take attention, or adhere to their bullying policies, and more importantly failed to implement them. Iím taking on all above agencies legally, and wonít stop until we are taken seriously. My son has been seriously affected by his experiences. He canít sleep at night. Struggles with my disciplining him, feeling Iím bullying him. He has no confidence, and thinks of himself as an idiot. Ironically, heís just been awarded an honour for bravery.
Iím proud of my son. I will never stop fighting his corner. This would be the same for any mother. Iím angry that Iíve been forced to home educate. I have debts from university that I canít now pay. I am claiming income support, something I donít feel proud doing. We struggle financially, every week. On a positive note, our relationship is stronger. My son knows that his Mummy loves him with all her heart and soul, and will always stand up for him. His confidence will return. When we re-locate, which we have to due to racist threats and pressure, Iíll get him involved in self-defence classes.
Home educating is challenging, especially as I to date have received no support from the Student Welfare Officer. Iíve been home educating for nearly five months.
I would make the same decision again, and not think twice about it. Why should I allow racists to dictate to us? I do because I value my sonís health.
|Names and all personal details have been omitted in order to protect the writer and her son, who live in fear of racist reprisals.|