What keeps me awake at night - Losing a case history hurts a child's future

10th May 2013 at 01:00

Communication in education is so important, not just within and between schools but with outside agencies, too. This was highlighted in the past year when a child moved to our school. Within the first few days we realised he had severe behavioural issues, and that he was also very immature for his age. We knew there had to be a reason for this but we were told nothing about him when he arrived, other than that he had a "difficult" background.

Not having information on his specific problems was incredibly frustrating. It made it very hard to form effective strategies to help him.

Over time, more information filtered through, both from his former school and from government agencies. It appeared that he had been passed between numerous homes during the previous few years, before finally being fostered in the local area. This was information we should have had from the start. If we had known the case history, we could have been helping him from the beginning and we would have been much further along than we were.

With this new information, we were able to put in place strategies that fitted the child's particular circumstances. The transformation was remarkable. His behaviour issues gradually disappeared and suddenly we had an engaged, bright student.

We were told that the reluctance to give out the case history was on account of the child's right to privacy. In our view, this was ridiculous and the child was being failed as a result of political correctness. The benefit of a better education surely outweighed any privacy concerns and the information would have been kept confidential by those members of staff who needed to know.

In the past few weeks, the issue has come up again. The child was abruptly pulled out of school and until very recently we did not know where he had been sent, so could not aid his new school in meeting his needs. Only when the school contacted us directly could we ensure that the child had the support he required. We were all one step behind again.

That child and others like him will continue to be failed unless the system changes, and it is heartbreaking to watch.

The writer is a preschool teacher in the South of England.

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