I read an article online today about how mainstream education is so important to disabled children and it really got me thinking about when I was younger and education professionals seemed to think they automatically knew what’s best for me.
I started my school life in a specialist nursery at age two and stayed in specialist education until about the age of 8 when my school teachers decided (without asking) that I should start attending the local mainstream school one day a week, when you’ve grown up around people who are just like you, small classrooms and extra support. Going from that to classrooms with 30+ children, only 1 teacher and children who stare is a huge deal!
So being the person I am instead of saying no I attended the school every week with 1 to 1 support and I hated every second of it, nothing made sense. Why was everywhere so busy?, why was everyone staring? And why couldn’t I just stay with my friends in the school I knew?. I mean it wasn’t that I couldnt handle the work I actually enjoyed being pushed intellectually instead of just doing the same work as the whole class, regardless of our abilities. I couldn’t cope with the change though and after many arguments with a headteacher who told me ‘I had to get on with it’, I stopped attending the mainstream school and got back to my normality.
As I got older I realised that even though emotionally in the past I’d struggled with mainstream, being in specialist education was holding me back because no matter how good I did in lessons, I was still given the same work as others who weren’t on my level in terms of work. I’ll never understand why we all got given the same work even though despite having the same disabilities, we weren’t at the same level in terms of our abilities in the classroom. During our GCSE’s it became clear to me that if I’d been in mainstream education things might of been different, that was made more apparent when we were told that even though we were capable of higher grade GCSEs we were only being entered in at foundation level. Please tell me how that is fair?
I did really well in my GCSE’s but obviously didn’t achieve the grades I believe I could’ve if I’d be given the chance. I’m not sitting here saying that ‘special school’ was awful and ‘mainstream’ was great because there are good and bad points to both and I honestly believe that if I hadn’t been in the school I was, I may not of had the opportunities I did.
All I’m really trying to say is that too me they only person who should decide about your education is you and your parents/family, one size doesn’t fit all after all! What might be amazing for one person might have a negative effect on another. I know from my experiences that there are some people who I know that wouldn’t of been able to deal with mainstream not only physically but emotionally and others that I believe could’ve done alot more given the right help and support.
So I’d love too hear your opinions are you for or against mainstream?