Friday 23 January 2015

Aim Higher

We are bereft, undone and broken.
We did our best and resisted the authorities but they will have their way.
We know it’s in her ‘best interests’.
We stalled as long as we could postponing the inevitable.

With a heavy heart we announce that Peanut is going to Nursery.
Yes, she’ll look cute on the first day, but that is no consolation.
I know peanut and her story, though crestfallen, I’m confident Peanut will do fine.

I cannot say that for all my children.

The recent Twitter feed from the @BAAFAdoption conference on education was interesting to follow.
Stark facts on the educational outcomes for children in the care system that are shadowed, varyingly, in adopted children’s lives.

The # for the twitter feed was #aimhigher and being honest I could not help but reflect on the aspirations that I have for my children.

We have had a spectrum of experiences with schools good, bad and everything in-between. By the time Peanut leaves school we will have been at the school gates and parents evenings for 28 consecutive years, we've seen a lot.

I confess to having different priorities for each of my children and they reflect each of children’s unique experiences, view of themselves and the world they live in.


I want them to be and feel safe.
I want them to be at school not marginalised/excluded.
I want them to have a few good friends
I want them to feel able to do their best.
I want them to have hope and aspiration.
I want them to participate positively in the world around them and enjoy it.

I want them to be literate and numerate but not at the expense of the above. 
Being honest I'm not sure what my child can learn when not feeling safe. The terror that gripped Sarah when being asked to read a word to me aged 6 shut her down for 10 minutes, unable to speak for fear.
Reading didn't seem so important after that. 

Maybe I’m out of step with the government, school league tables and the parents next to me at the school gate.

So be it.


  1. I would hope that you are not out of step with most parents, surely all of us should want our children to be safe, happy and aiming to do something they love.

    1. It often feels like we're drawn into a system and can't compete with its momentum and sense of inevitability, we'll try.

  2. Hold your step. Just because everybody else is walking in a certain direction doesn't mean it's the right way!

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  4. Well said! It's something many teachers and parents can't quite get their minds around. Academic skills are great, really, but they are so far down the list of priorities for us. The resource teacher at school seems worried that we don't expect enough of and for our special needs children (two youngest), but we simply care more about the truly important stuff. My two oldest are gifted students and top of their classes, yet those academic skills are still less important to me than their character, their empathy and kindness, their ability to enjoy their childhoods. I may have to quote you!

    1. I used to say to my eldest that being clever is all well and good but the people who invented the Auschwitz gas chambers were clever, it's no guarantee of anything. Kindness, compassion and integrity will get you just at least as far as clever.
      Thank you for commenting.

    2. We have the same conversation here!

  5. I would only add one wish I had for my children : I want them to know that I am always here for them whatever the circumstances and time. Teachers may also feel the same about some children as yourselves but there is sadly no allowance on the return forms to explain the dip in their statistics.

    1. It only takes a small number of children to pull the school or classes statistics down, skewing the results and reflecting badly on the school. Unique challenges for teachers and school management.
      School can seem a million miles from the safety of parents, for some children it will always be sadly too far.
      Thank yo for commenting.

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  7. It's been clear in our family that unless our children feel safe and valued, they don't learn anything positive. When educational attainment has been put ahead of their emotional well-being it has been disastrous. In my opinion, if schools could #aimhigher in creating the right environment around children, then academic achievement may follow. It's about putting the horse before the cart and not the other way around.
    Right-on post Al.

  8. As always you've hit the nail on the head, it's a shame school seems to be such a source of conflict for children and parents.