There are head teachers…and there is this man.
A head teacher in Thanet has gone viral for telling the truth. Matt from Thanet spoke about what is really like for children that are living in some of the most deprived areas in the country.
Among other things, He revealed that many children are going without GPs and are facing gang threats. People have had a lot to say about this. You now why? Because it’s the truth. Every word.
You can listen to the interview here (Play from 02:09:08) with the epic James O’Brian from LBC radio. But lets just have a look at some of the things the head teacher talks about and why people might be getting in a tiz about it. Looking at the article below we are can have a look for ourselves……
“Thanet headteacher Matthew spoke out on national radio about teachers washing pupils’ clothes, providing children with basic healthcare and helping them out of gangs.”
All of the above is true. It might not be true in all schools, but it is for sure real life in many. I know that people could read this and just think there is no way it happens. But it does. The thing is, people take for granted certain things like being able to wash your clothes and get them dry for the next day or having enough clothes for the week. My one child has clean uniform everyday and plenty of it. There are many children in the UK that have one set of uniform. One shirt, one trousers/skirt. So, if the blazer gets dirty or the shoes brake, no one is going to replace these or clean them at home. They may not have the facilities to get clothes clean and dry. But you also have parents with mental health and other issues that means they are not always aware of what their child needs. Providing basic healthcare is also something that takes place daily. This can be from providing sanitary products to giving a young person advice about hygiene. However….
Hands up if you have ever taken a child you work with to the GP…I have. Hands up if you have ever taken a child to the hospital because a parent wouldn’t…I have. Once I came back to my office and there was a note under my door. In very childlike writing was a letter (I still have it). It was from one of my “naughtiest” young people. One who the teachers dreaded coming into class. Everyone in the local area knew him and his family. Hard…no one messed with them. This letter outlined why he wanted to die. The feelings he couldn’t explain. The ache for his mother who had passed away. He said he wanted to say goodbye to me and told me where to find him. A cry for help. When I found him…. he was in a dark classroom…curled up in the corner of the room… One of the “Hardest” kids I have ever met. Curled up on the floor in school …broken. I laid with him a while. Just laid on the floor next to him and told him all the reasons why I didn’t want him to die. All the reason why his mum wouldn’t want him to die. He just sobbed like an exhausted toddler. I spoke to him like he was my son. I spent the next few hours at the doctors getting him help and support. Because there was no one else who could or would. I sat with him as he lent against me, hood up, and sobbed. Cried for his mum. Asked me if he was going mad. The doctor saw him and said he would make a referral to CAHMS but because he hadn’t taken “A serious attempt on his own life” he would not see someone for 18 months. I will never forget the way that child looked at me. As if to say…I just told you the darkest part of my soul. I just showed you what scares me most…and you didn’t help me. Of course, that was not true. But he was a child and couldn’t understand why he would need to wait 18 months to get help…nor could I …. can you? There will be people reading this who will know who I’m talking about. Ex colleagues. The reason they will know is because when I returned from the GP, I walked in like it was all good. Just another day at the office. And then they had to watch me break. Sob for this child. Hurt for this child….
I can’t be the only one.
Helping them out of gangs…. wow….dot even get me started on that one.
“He said: “I love what I do but sometimes it hurts incredibly. The problem we have one of the things I have to do when I’m working with my safeguarding team is to reassure them that as a school, we’re doing everything we can and more.”
That pain he speaks about, I can only imagine, is because he doesn’t want any child to suffer. I’m sure none of us do. Sadly, when you are a front-line worker, and these are not just names on a referral, but they are actual humans who are saying…help me….and sometimes you can’t. That is gonna hurt. Safeguarding professionals all over the country are feeling the pressure of ongoing cuts and changes. When you have the passion in you to want to make a change, but you have restraints around you, this can be a heavy weight to bare. By the head teacher telling his team that they are all doing all they can as a school, even when say for example he has one of his DLS shouting and swearing that this is not good enough, that no child should be left in a freezing caravan with good knows who coming in and out…and the head teacher says…its not good enough for that child but, as a school we are doing all we can, he is helping that front line worker to cope. He is giving his team the space to scream and shout, acknowledge what has happened but also remind them that they have not let that child down.
If you have children, imagine what it would be like if for some reason you could no longer care for them. That you had to hand that over to someone else. Imagine you die tomorrow, and your children are placed with someone else. And they have to live like some of these young people do. Its awful to think that, your son being exposed to gangs. Your daughter not being able to get seen by a doctor. So, when Matthew asks, “Is this good enough for my child” and he knows the answer is no…. we need to wonder if Boris Johnson has ever asked himself the same question. Would he be happy for his child to not have access to medical care? To not have a clear-cut way of leaving gangs. To not have clean clothes. To have to choose between feeding his child or keeping his child warm? Because if he does ask himself that question and then admit that yes…what is happening to children in this country would not be good enough for his child…well he needs to fuck off then don’t he. Because his children are no more important than all the students that attend this secondary school.
Wow. Just stop and think what is being said here. A girl who was heavily involved in gangs, who felt like there was no point in coming to school other than stopping her mum getting a fine, a child who no longer cared for her own safety…..is now on her way to university. Her life has been changed. Her life has been saved. She was given the tools and the safety to save herself. Yet…the school is still seen as to be failing….
Isn’t that shocking. It makes me feel a little bit sick in my mouth. It kind of reminds me of that saying about the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer. Its as if the CURRENT government wants us …I mean them…just be left to rot. By not investing in these kinds of schools, the government is telling thousands of children that they are not worth it, that their lives are not worth it. You have been written off. Good luck and all that but don’t look to the government for things such as good computers or enough staff…no way…you’re on your own kids. Support staff paid just enough to live on. Support staff who are sometimes the only reason these children are in school….
I could go on and on. But I want you to listen to Matthews interview, read the article and then ask yourself….is this good enough for my child? And if the answer is no… then…. comment on this post, speak out, share this, vote labour….do something.
My good friend remined me today that you can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect change…that’s insanity.
Anyway, I think Matthew is a legend. Listening to him speak made me angry, sad, and wanting to change the world OUR children live in.
I think that we all need to listen to the message Matthew is trying to send.
There are head teachers…and there is this man.