Special days

21st May 2004 at 01:00
Hometime headaches loom large for Maria Corby

A good friend of mine teaches in a mainstream school and we often compare our jobs.

"What's the hardest part of yours?" she once asked me. "The kids? The parents? The staff?" "None of those," I told her. "It's the buses and dinner rotas." She looked surprised so I explained. "We have a wide catchment area and the children are unable to use public transport, so they all come into school in taxis and buses."

"Why is that such a problem?" "It's not. It's sending them home again that's the problem. Many spend an evening or two a week in respite care, or go to Granny's every other Wednesday, or attend an after-school club, which means they go on different buses."

"Well surely that's OK," said my friend. "You must have a list." I gave a wobbly sort of smile and ordered a bottle of wine. "Yes we do, but when the social worker who arranges transport forgets to tell us that Sunny is off to respite, or doesn't order the transport at all; when the parents tell us Rupert is going to Granny's but change their mind during the day without letting us know; when a taxi arrives to take Damien to his respite care place and we've already sent him home; when the new bus that arrives to take Rebecca home hasn't got the correct tracking for her wheelchair; when Jake's new wheelchair arrives at school without a headrest, rendering it unsafe; when Eliza has gone but her medicine is still here; and when, as always happens on a Friday, usually at the end of term, we are left with one poor child who has sat and watched all of his friends go home and is still sitting here (or more likely, running up and down the corridor) eating all the office biscuits, at 5pm, while we desperately try to contact parents, social workers, transport people, drivers, escorts and taxi companies and we wonder again where all this fits into our job descriptions..."

I'm shaking now with the memory of these hideous events. My friend can think of nothing to say. Eventually she asks: "And the problem with the dinner rota?" I pour another glass of wine. "I'll save that for another day," I whimper. "But in the meantime, I don't think I should drive tonight. Could you call me a taxi? I've got the number."

Maria Corby is deputy head of a special school for pupils with severe and multiple learning difficulties. She writes under a pseudonym WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT NLP

"We believe that NLP is the next generation of psychology. It has been called the new learning paradigm and the new language of psychology. As a model of the structure of human experience, it may be as profound a step forward as the invention of language."

Joseph O'Connor and John Seymour, Introducing NLP, Thorsons, 1994 "Changing the quality of your life is the focus of NLP. You will deal with - vanquish - anything that may be holding you back from utilising the force that can instantly change your life. Empower yourself with the keys to extraordinary achievement. Discover within yourself the force that can change everything."

Steve Boyley of the Performance Institute of NLP, on its website "Many executives have discovered, by using NLP techniques, they have achieved management excellence and personal success. Managing with the Power of NLP will enable you to do the same."

David Molden, Managing with the Power of NLP, Financial TimesPrentice Hall, 1996 "NLP can enable you to achieve those professional and personal goals that you desire, to keep on the leading edge of the latest technology of change, to manage your own life, and to have the excellence and skills of anyone you have ever admired."

Penny Tompkins and James Lawley, NLP trainers and psychotherapists, in Personal Success magazine "NLP attitudes and techniques can provide freedom from old habits, fears and limiting beliefs and give structure for new and empowering ways of being in the worldI If you have not been living the life you want, NLP offers you a path to new and satisfying alternatives."

UK Association for Neuro-Linguistic Programming information booklet "Little or no evidence was found to support the effectiveness of neurolinguistic programming in social influence."

Evaluation by the US Army, published in Psychological Science Journal, 1990

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