Guest blog. This one is a good friend of mine who sometimes forgets how amazing she is. Maybe you can help me to remind her that what she does is amazing. I give you…..
From Grammar to Grime….
“You have to actually come to school if you want to be a teacher”
The PE teachers laughed between themselves. That was my reply when I was asked what I wanted to do when I was older, I was around 13-14 and attended a highly thought of local grammar school. When I say attended I wasn’t there often, to the point my mum got summoned to court due to my 33% attendance.
Eventually due to fighting, turning up to school drunk & under the influence of other substances & obviously my low attendance I was shipped off to the local PRU with promises of still being able to get 7 GCSEs which of course when I got there wasn’t true, it was just a rouse to convince me to leave their school & probably vastly improve their data. We barely had maths & English due to the teachers always leaving or just not turning up because they couldn’t handle our behaviour, to them we were a lost cause. The kind of kids who would never be anything so why bother trying to engage us.
Ironically after going to court & my mum being fined because I had to attend school at least 25 hours a week I ended up going to the PRU for 2 hours a week to do maths & English. The problem with sending kids like me to the PRU was that I was taken out of a setting where I was mostly surrounded by middle class kids who wanted to learn & put into a school of my friends from the streets, obviously I was thrilled by this as I now had a new audience I could show how “bad” I was too. Working in a school now I’m ashamed by the things we put those poor teachers through, we were eventually banned from being taken off site as we would lock the teachers off the mini bus & act like pure animals, one occasion even attempting to rock the mini bus over. In year 11 we did childcare & everyone had one of them life like babies to take home & look after. I wasn’t allowed one of them babies as I couldn’t be trusted with it. Couldn’t even be trusted with a doll!
A few of my friends were eventually kicked out of the PRU, that was the end of the road for them, no more chances. Around this time I had a lot going on outside of school & was extremely disengaged from education. I was drinking litre bottles of vodka most nights & even during the day at times, hanging around the streets, fighting & causing all sorts of trouble locally. I had several inappropriate relationships with men, I was a teenager. Not one person at my grammar school or the PRU raised an eyebrow at any of this. My teenage years will come to be a time I look back on & smile but also cringe, I would constantly find myself in dangerous situations, drinking in flats with dodgy men who of course I thought were my friends, chilling in the back of the kebab shop feeling cool because no one else was allowed back there. I obviously now know that certainly wasn’t the case and it makes me feel sick to my stomach when reading cases such as Rochdale & Rotherham, things could have turned out much worse. I often refer to myself being a “street kid” as that’s where I spent my years, hanging around in gangs of other troubled youths.
Eventually I left the PRU with my 1 GCSE in English and went off to college & then to work in Woolworths , at age 18 still in a cycle of bad choices clubbing probably 4 days out of 7 most weeks, occasionally still getting into fights locally, I met my now husband & became pregnant with my son, my saviour.
Fast forward 9 years & I have achieved my dream that was mocked all those years ago at school. In fact my first school job was at that same PRU I was sent to at 15! I’m not a “teacher” but I work within a school to help & support young people who are in the same position I was & I like to think & have been told that I’m bloody good at what I do! I would never let a child down the way that I was let down. When I was in school we didn’t have specific support staff for welfare etc & I wonder if things would have turned out differently if I had the kind of people I work with now around me, I do believe the staff in my schools were fully aware of what I was getting up to but chose to turn a blind eye and this is why I have chosen to become the person that I needed. I would love to go back to my secondary school & show all of the staff that not only laughed at me but in fact failed me & show them what I have become, but for now I’ll just hope that they see this blog.