Our dreams of a new school reduced to rubble

23rd July 2010 at 01:00

"Come the new school ..." I said cheerfully as I helped Rashid up. He had tripped on Madison's standing frame and his walking sticks had gone flying, leaving him in a heap on the floor. "Come the new school, we'll have wide corridors and storage space for all this equipment."

"Come the new school," I said to the school council, "we'll have the things you asked for." I referred to the minutes from the last meeting: "Kaylee, you wanted a physio room so you wouldn't have to do it in the hall, putting carrots in your toes and worrying everyone could see you; Joe, you asked for a changing room so you didn't have to get changed for PE in the toilets; Sharize, you wanted a kitchen so you could learn to cook, and Jack, you asked for an anti-gravity room. You'll be pleased to know," I said, "that we've been talking to the builders and architects and have visited two new schools since our last meeting. All this should be possible."

"Even the anti-gravity room?" asked a startled teacher, wondering if she would be sent to learn another new technique.

"Well, not quite," I said, "But we did see a state-of-the-art hoisting system which means that children who use wheelchairs can get around more easily."

"Come the new school," I said to the new parent as I showed her round, "all our classrooms will have outside spaces and won't be so crowded." Mrs T had lost the tribunal and her son, Eddie, would be coming to us.

"I know you're an outstanding school," she explained, "it's just that ...".

"I know," I said. We were walking through a corridor we had built through the toilets. "Sorry about the smell - our new school will be purpose built and will have proper toilets and classrooms and everything."

Just then, my bleeper sounded. I left Mrs T in the care of Phil, our technician who works in a cupboard because we don't have a room for him. The emergency was a child kicking off in a room that was too small to meet his needs. We evacuated the rest of the class and waited for him to calm down. "Don't worry, it's not your fault", I said to the shocked class. "Come the new school, we'll have quiet areas to help children like Jesse."

"In the new school," began Jenny, a teaching assistant from nursery, "will we have our own hydrotherapy pool?" Jenny was loading Tilly onto the school minibus, making sure her chair was clamped in safely and her head supported. They were driving to another special school to use their hydropool. It would take two members of staff half a day for Tilly to have this essential exercise in the warm water. And Tilly was missing a whole afternoon for a 20-minute session.

"It's top of the list." I said.

"Would you phone Ali's mum?" asked Beth, the nurse. He's been sick and should go home.

"But his mum's at work," I said. "Couldn't we keep him?" Sadly, we have no sick room. "Come the new school," I explained to Ali's mum, "we'll have a proper sick bay and would be able to keep him when he has these episodes."

I walked across derelict wasteland to where my car was parked. "Come the new school,' I thought, "we'll have safe car parks, and walkways."

Then I switched on the news.

Ginny Brown, Deputy headteacher of a special school in the South West, which had been promised funds under Building Schools for the Future.

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