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Letter to the nursery.......

(20 Posts)
ThomCat Wed 21-May-03 13:44:18

This is the letter i thought I'd send to the school that upset me the other day, what do think girls?

I have deliberated long and hard before writing to you, following my visit to your school on Friday 16 May when Charlotte and I met with your staff with a view to her joining you for her pre-school education next year.

May I start with emphasising that Charlotte is a normal, healthy, content and happy child. Her social skills are probably a little more advanced than other babies of her age; she feeds herself, she sleeps well, and she clearly communicates her needs. Her co-ordination skills are at the level they should be at this stage and she is developing in line with her age group. She doesn’t yet crawl but circles the floor in any given position using her legs.

Some children have red hair, some have freckles; some have brown faces and some have pink faces. Charlotte has Down’s Syndrome. Charlotte is, and will be, exactly the same as every other child in the world, albeit with their own special characteristics; one “difference” may be that her development will be at a slower pace. And like all children, she brings her own positive characteristics to add to her peer group.

When I initially telephoned your school to make enquires of your waiting list, I was told there would be no problems at all because of Charlotte’s condition; indeed I was delighted when I heard she “could not be treated specially”. That was music to my ears. Charlotte does not need to be treated “specially”; she is as special and unique as any other child.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I finally met your staff to be met with the very attitude I did not imagine to exist in your school. I would like to stress that nobody was unkind and I know that no offence was intended by anyone. Yet I left the school feeling very unsettled and confused and very unclear as to what the problem was. The staff seemed more pre-occupied by Charlotte’s possible “special needs” which were mentioned constantly. Nobody has any idea at this stage that Charlotte will have any “special needs”. It would be very wrong to pre-empt this now, surely.

One teacher even called over another because she had had an experience of a child with Down’s Syndrome coming to tea with her own child. Her words were “she (the Down’s child) even had tea with us” and told me that her son had to remind her to talk to him the same as everyone else.

I was then very actively encouraged to make enquiries of “Hegaston” because of its special needs facilities – even being advised to drop in there “on my way home”. Again, this was very clearly pre-empting that Charlotte is going to fit into the category of “special needs”.

I apologise if this letter appears to be somewhat rambling. The intention is purely to let you know my feelings; I would very much prefer to express them to you than to talk to the wrong people about the situation.

I would also like to make it very clear that I would love Charlotte to join your school. It fits in with my church affiliation and I have the feeling that she would be very happy in your midst. I wouldn’t want my possible bluntness to jeopardise Charlotte’s future with you – yet at the same time I feel it is more constructive and healthy to discuss my feelings with you.

It’s also Downs’s Syndrome Awareness Week so what better time to air my views and ask for your understanding!

I would very much like to come in again to see you and for you to maybe meet Charlotte. And please keep her name on your waiting list! Charlotte is a delightful 17 month old – and I believe she will be an equally charming and able 2 ½ year old. On a more objective note, I fully understand that should Charlotte develop any outstanding problems before pre-school time (as any child might) we would have to re-think her education generally. But please don’t let her be judged “just in case”.

With kind regards,

Claireandrich Wed 21-May-03 14:04:46

This is really well put and gets your feelings over nice. I hope the school listen to your feelings and will judge Charlotte as an individual child, like all children should be. Well done Thomcat.

ThomCat Wed 21-May-03 14:11:25

thanks a lot claireand rich, appreciate your comments and time spent reading it, thank you.

meanmum Wed 21-May-03 14:18:39

Very well crafted. You have not let bias colour your letter but been objective, realistic and honest. I think it important to send this letter and assess the school's reaction to it. If they react badly then you know that the school is definitely the wrong place for Charlotte but probably for any other child that is currently there. If they react positively, as I believe they will do due to the non accusational tone then you have brought an awareness to them that even though they feel they may have they are obviously lacking.

One of the key failings in any business is the lack of communication from the top down and general lack of understanding as to what the company's (including schools etc) principals are. This letter will hopefully reinforce that to the school and make them realise that they need to undertake an exercise with their staff to ensure there is understanding and clarity.

I'm sorry to be picky, and I probably don't have the right to be as my writing on mumsnet is littered with the wrong tense, grammar and spelling but you might want to change the first sentence in the 5th paragraph to something like:

So you can imagine my disappointment when I finally met with your staff and was met with the very attitude I did not imagine to exist in your school. I would like to stress that nobody was unkind and I know that no offence was intended by anyone.

LIZS Wed 21-May-03 14:18:59

Sounds very constructive and well considered. Hope the reply matches. Let us know how it goes.

bells2 Wed 21-May-03 14:42:53

I think that's excellent Thomcat. Let us know how you get on and good luck.

Jimjams Wed 21-May-03 15:01:09

excellent- well done!

eidsvold Wed 21-May-03 15:38:39

excellent - although it is Down Syndrome awareness week - 2nd to 6th of June - perhaps you could offer to share information with the staff - you could get that from the Down Syndrome Association. That way you are not only sharing your feelings regarding the situation but also offering to assist in their education of DS. You could even give them the DSA number as a point of contact - saying that you are aware they might not know much about DS and you have found DSA very helpful with any queries.

You could state that you have some reading matter that might help to enlighten them further on DS. I figured with dd that I would have to do that with a nursery - or school perhaps.

lou33 Wed 21-May-03 17:01:07

Well done Thomcat. If they don't respond positively then they don't deserve Lottie in their school, a big loss to them imo. Stick some literature in with your letter about Downs Syndrome too maybe?

ThomCat Wed 21-May-03 17:15:11

Oh thanks JimJams, LIZs, bells2, Lou33, Edisvold and Meanmum, you're all so great!
Eidsvold - right will change the date and say with DS week coming up and will give them some literature too etc, great idea
MeanMum - you sweetie, changing that paragraph now
Thank you all SO much. I'm so glad I waitied for your responses.
The letter will go off in tomorrows post and i'll let you know what response, if any, I get.
Thanks again. xx

ThomCat Wed 21-May-03 17:19:48

hang on a sec - Meanmum, I can't see any difference in what you typed to what it actually says in the letter! Just went to change it and realised it's the same!!

SoupDragon Wed 21-May-03 17:25:41

ThomCat, the version you posted said "...finally met your staff to be met..." rather than "...and was met..."

ThomCat Wed 21-May-03 17:53:54

Ahh, sorry, thanks's been a long day with far to much to do and would you believe I've proof read 2 press releases and a PR plan today! Oh God, what's been sent out with my approval?!

SoupDragon Wed 21-May-03 18:57:33

Oh, I know what you mean!! I proof read a NCT newwsletter several times then I had a quick flick through the real thing when it arrived and spotted 3 mistakes in about 3 seconds! One of them was in my own article... I guess you see what you expect to see IYSWIM!

Marina Wed 21-May-03 19:31:40

I think that is an excellent letter Thomcat, I hope it gets the reply it merits. Let us know how you get on.

willow2 Wed 21-May-03 19:55:34

Brilliantly put.

maryz Wed 21-May-03 23:20:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mum2Toby Wed 21-May-03 23:21:48

Thomcat - your letter is amazing. Well done and I hope it has an impact.

fio2 Thu 22-May-03 09:44:00

I think the reason there is so much discrimination in society against people who are disabled is because there isnt or wasnt intergration in schools. I watched a program on Channel 4 the other week about a group of schools who had a totally inclusive policy where children of all abilities were mixed. The school managed to provide for ALL the pupils equally and those with extra needs had the facilities on hand to meet their requirements. The pupils attitudes were brilliant and the teachers stressed there was less bullying and certainly alot less ignorance.

lou33 Thu 22-May-03 14:13:18

I agree Fio2, it is improving. When I think back to the time I was at school, you only saw sn people in a group being hauled on and off their bus during one of their "treat" days out. There is still a lot of fear based on the way many people were hidden away, like their condition was something to be scared of. A lot of derogatory terms were coined from the names of these conditons too, which we still hear today. Dh had to pack up and leave one day while fishing recently, because a group of men were shouting and swearing, calling each other a "spaz" (ds has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy), and I remember many many times hearing this and other terms. I can't even bring myself to type them out I hated them then and now. Scope had to change it's name from the Spastic Society because of the associated name calling. Luckily it isn't as bad as it used to be, but still terribly painful to have to hear, or think about your child facing. I agree that the only way to stop this is to include everyone where possible, but it is all still relatively new, and I do feel like ds is a bit of an experiment sometimes. You have to start somewhere I suppose.

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