Drowning by Numbers
Recently I started internet dating. My mates got thoroughly fed up with me moping around the place and went on a bit of a crusade to find someone shiny and new for me to wake up with every so often. I would have preferred to go skydiving than go online dating and I’ve got wicked vertigo. But so far it’s working out. More later, possibly.
It did make me think however about the selection processes as a whole...
Me finding a date and Max finding the right school actually had far more in common than I first thought. Just like online dating there were must haves and a wish list. For my new squeeze or (in)significant other, he had to live in Cambridge, be divorced, have children, love galleries, traveling, be a reasonable height (i.e. not be shorter than me), aged between 45-55 and be kind of cute. In time he would have to like my boys too but I wasn’t going to cross that bridge for ages. Then my wish list included having a Labrador, being shockingly bright, have nice hair and automatically opening doors for me. A serious list but so far so good. I don’t really like emojies but if I did, I’d put a smiley face in here.
OK, so what does Max need and want from a school?
I’ll start with the 5 year dream and work backwards. Max should have a job, pay tax, live independently with friends (supported), he should spend his own money on things he wants. I need him to not want to get out of bed to go to work every so often like everybody else. Like everybody else, he should feel joy when he does well and gets praised by his boss. At the end of the day, what I want is for him to go to bed tired and happy knowing he’s made a difference. Max should get to feel absolutely normal.
- Medical – He needs to get his meds and emergency medical help with his epilepsy when he needs it. I need him to be safe.
- Learning – Max wants to be a chef. So he needs to train and get as many relevant qualifications as he can. He needs to be supported with his learning disabilities.
- Socially – I don’t want him to be lonely, I can’t think of anything worse. So he needs to have kids like him around so he can make new friends.
- Financially – I need to be able to get him to school and still work full time…those pesky bills!
Work experience, great sports clubs, travel, lots of community interaction, art opportunities, ICT stuff, great outside space, independence skills and adventures I can’t imagine right now.
I started looking for schools and colleges by going through all the local offers and this fab website www.specialneedsuk.org. I began with my own LA then went further afield…
My LA: 3
The LA’s surrounding me: 10
Further away: 11
That gives me a starting point of 24 schools. I built charts and worked through the night. Don’t you love the internet? I spent hours going through each school’s website filling in my little charts. Taking notes and emailing questions each morning. Loads of schools only took kids from 18+ so they were straight off the list. After about a week and a half I was down to a shortlist of 7. These just about covered the must haves.
To give you an idea of what that my paperwork looked like at this stage, I ended up with 4 pages all filled with charts 45 rows deep and 8 columns wide. Within the first week my school breakdown document had reached over 45 pages.
Now to move onto the shortlist….