You may, or may not have noticed, that my blog has been a little quiet the past few weeks. I’ve been struggling with something. Basically, our lives got turned upside down, literally 3 days before the country went into nationwide lockdown. It was an extremely stressful time and only now, 3 weeks later, am I coming to terms with it and able to talk about it.

The Back Story

If you follow me on social media, you will know that I have been unhappy with my kids’ school for more than a year now.  It started last year, I really felt that Ava did not have a teacher that was best suited to who she is as a child. There were also huge issues with the quality of teacher prepared work that was being sent home. I’m talking about spelling errors, grammatical errors, it was just poor.  I had complained numerous times to the school and to the principal and raised my concerns but in all honestly, I always felt like I was more of an annoyance and a nuisance to the school.

At around the same time, Ava started to struggle with her reading. We pushed through because I thought a large portion of it was her being lazy, I feel so awful saying that now, in light of what we have learned.

The Start of The Dreaded Grade 4

I know school is tough and I know Grade 4 is a particularly tough year, but in all honesty, the wheels literally came off this year. Ava had gone from being a child who did well at school, to literally failing everything.

We were worried. There were many sleepless nights and tears. There was even one night, when after 4 hours of homework, my sweet little girl, completely lost the plot, she literally had a breakdown. We had multiple meetings with the teachers and discussions about our concerns, but everyone just said it was normal and teachers just told us Grade 4 was tough. The final straw came when we discovered that for one of her tests, she had achieved 0%. As in ZERO guys. And her teacher hadn’t felt it necessary to communicate that to us. Instead, getting Ava to rewrite the test a few days later with no notice or warning.

Now I take HUGE exception to a few things here. Firstly, being told that the teacher didn’t have time to communicate with us is, in my opinion, when you have a student getting zero percent, unacceptable and secondly getting a child to rewrite without giving them a chance to restudy is just pretty pointless, when I questioned this, I was told the teacher was not obligated to give her a chance to rewrite. Basically, I was told, in not so many words, to shut my mouth. Interestingly, I’ve had a few conversations with other parents who took the same exception to specific tests and teachers. We tried to meet with the school to discuss our concerns again, but we were once again, and this time by the divisional head and principal, pretty much disregarded and dismissed. I cannot tell you how disrespectfully we were treated. Like we were a nuisance and they were doing us a favour. When my husband stormed out a second time and I told the principal we were probably going to remove our children from their school, his only concern was that I put that in writing. No apology, no concern or interest in even engaging on what they could try to do better. Not once did anybody show any interest in taking on board our concerns and attempting to improve what is, in my opinion a pretty crappy schooling system.

And honestly, that is just one example of the lack of professionalism we had experienced so far this year. I could give you a list as long as my arm, but it’s no longer worth my energy. I won’t give that place one inch more of my time and frankly they are not my problem anymore.

The Assessment

We decided to take Ava to an Educational Psychologist for a professional assessment before simply moving schools to ensure we put her into the best school for her. The results were shocking and just further proof that my kids were not attending a school that was focused on excellence in education.

We could never have been prepared for the results of the assessment. It has taken me a while to process it all and to come to terms with it. Along with dealing with my anger at how I feel the previous school had so miserably failed my child. All the while making us feel like we were the problem when in fact they had a teaching staff who were completely unable to recognize that they had a child in the class that had unrecognized special needs. I don’t expect that a teacher be able to diagnose a special need, but I would have thought that being able to recognize that there was a potential issue, would be within the scope of teaching?

The Diagnosis

Ava has multiple diagnosis, when I even say that I get furious with the school all over again that not one teacher in all the years she was a student there, ever picked up on the fact that there might be an issue.

So here is the list:

Attention Deficit Disorder – we have a referral to a neurologist for further testing and to decide on a course of treatment

Auditory Hypersensitivity – which means she cannot concentrate or cope in large, noisy classrooms

And the most shocking of all

Dyslexia

I don’t understand how no one, not one of the paid professionals, was able to pick up on this. I’m also pretty disgusted that when we handed in our written notice to the school, along with the report from her assessment, they didn’t even acknowledge their failure. There was no apology for having even missed such important cues.

Change of Schools

So it was recommended, 3 days before lockdown, that we move Ava into an assisted learning or remedial school, to get her the relevant teachers that could assist her with her education while dealing with and offering therapies to her various diagnoses.

We have managed to get her into an amazing school, just dealing with the school, through their own set of assessments and then getting her enrolled and set up with eLearning during lockdown has shone a bright light on the failures of the previous school. The level of professionalism and care is incomparable.

The new school comes at a much higher cost and obviously, there was no way I was leaving Hannah behind and the old school, so we had to move her too. And again, just dealing with her new school through the enrolment process and eLearning during lockdown has also been a pleasure in comparison to what we have experienced in the past. I am somewhat concerned as it would seem that the school curriculums are different, and Hannah seems to be behind in terms of the reading and the spelling, so we are having to work very hard at getting her caught up.

But I somehow managed to, single handily, get the girls out of their old school, enrolled at their new schools, with all the relevant certified paperwork and vaccination and transfer certificates in the 3 days before lockdown.

What a crazy time it has been. I am still so bitterly disappointed and angry with the previous school, the undeserved trust and faith that we put in their system and their staff and the amount of money we spent there over so many years for this? Unforgivable.