Scrap-heap child got good degree

2nd August 1996 at 01:00
I read with interest the article "Home is where the start is" (TES, July 19) and its specific reference to the relationship between parents and the child with special needs.

It is very easy to be thwarted by the local education authority when attempting to gain the right education for a child with special needs, but after fighting one's way through the bureaucratic maze and smokescreens put up the LEA and schools, there can be rewards for parents in the end and it is that relationship, between the parents and the child, that will be the driving force to achieve what was thought at one time to be the impossible.

Our daughter was diagnosed as dyslexic (a term that the LEA refuses to acknowledge) at the age of nine and until she was 16 we fought the LEA and the school to provide her with education that they had stated "met her educational needs".

When our daughter was 14 the headteacher told us to face facts - that our daughter "would not even be able to operate tills at Tesco". However, we persevered and continued to work with our daughter and pursue the LEA.

My wife, who was a teacher at the school, was told by the head that she should put the school before her daughter in this and other matters that affect the school. Four years later, after severe bullying by the head, my wife retired from teaching.

The question will always remain as to whether her activities connected with our daughter's education were the root cause.

There is a happy conclusion because last week our daughter, after three years of dedication to her subject, achieved a BA honours degree, class 2:1.

Was it worth the heartache, the loss of my wife's job, the hours of letter-writing and attending meetings, the cost of home and private tuition?

When you now see the smiling face of a girl who had been thrown on to the "education scrap heap", the answer is a big "yes".

At all times we involved our daughter, we told her about her problem at an early age, and we kept her up to date with the actions that we were taking with the school and LEA.

We have proved that the combination of parent and child working to the same end can be successful especially with the help of the higher education establishments who in our case seemed to be more prepared than the secondary school to support our daughter.

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