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- Closed on Tuesday, 10th March 2020
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Exclusion from school is something every parent dreads. Hearing the words, “We would like you to remove your God daughter at the end of this term”, was certainly one of the worst moments of my life. Mariana was starting her second year at an school and had behavioral problems. In fact, she had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We knew all along that there was more to her behaviour than simply being “bad”. The school chose to ignore this. They were, in my opinion, prepared to let her destroy herself simply to protect their position in the league tables.
ADHD is a recognised medical condition affecting up to 5 per cent of all school-age children, with more boys affected than girls. Scientists believe that it is caused by an imbalance in brain neurotransmitters – chemicals that allow the cells of the central nervous system to communicate – and those afflicted find it hard to concentrate, stay still for long, or restrain their impulses. Recent research showing, for the first time, direct evidence of a genetic link, is helping to disprove assumptions that this condition is merely “naughtiness”.
Mariana had sailed through her entrance exam and the interview, and arrived at the school in September 2017. We were proud and excited, Her half-term reports were worrying, however. While some teachers clearly enjoyed teaching Mariana, others complained about her behaviour. She would call out impulsively during lessons and fidget in class. Her homework was often incomplete and messy. In spite of this, she did well in tests and had a wide group of friends.
She is difficult at home, too: she couldn’t settle to homework and had trouble getting to sleep. Yet there was no deliberate mischief in Mariana's activities; she often apologised for letting us down.
A few weeks into the start of Mariana’s second year, we were called to a meeting with the deputy head, shortly after given a one-day suspension for yelling with another teacher. Convinced that there were underlying reasons for her behaviour, and the deputy head promised to recommend an educational psychologist who could see Mariana.
From this point, things spiralled quickly downward. Mariana’s meetings with the school counsellor had no impact. She had twice been suspended for Talking Back, which officially meant that she was on her last chance. Over the next few weeks, there were increasingly frequent small incidents: detentions for missed homework and minor complaints about her behaviour. Mariana herself withdrew and appeared frightened. We could not get through to her. Two days later, as we sat in his office, the deputy head asked us to remove Mariana at the end of term. “, I will expel her,permanently ” she threatened. And she did.
looking back, I feel this large, highly regarded school was surely well equipped to tell the difference between children who maliciously disrupt school life, and those, like Mariana, who cannot help themselves. But the school was not prepared to recognise ADHD, even though it qualifies for Special Educational Needs (SEN), which its terms and conditions promise to provide for. Instead, the school let Mariana down – badly: a talented, exuberant child on arrival in school, had become an unhappy, failing student.
We are seeking medical help and home schooling within weeks, Mariana was formally diagnosed with ADHD by a consultant paediatrician at our local hospital, and examined by a neurologist. Please help me to support a child in need.
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