Tuesday, 31 August 2010

I received this wonderful e-mail this morning about provision at Parklands Primary School...

"Hello. I would just like to talk to you about Parklands Primary School and my experience regarding its outstanding provision and its dedicated staff who I will forever be grateful. My son has global developmental delay and epilepsy. He cannot communicate and due to this has developed some challenging behaviours. Ascot Hill closed down and he moved on to Parklands Primary School. Initially, when he started the School I was concerned as my Son appeared to drop in some of his development (completely natural when a child moves from one School to another). I wrote to the Headmistress and complained. She brought me in and discussed my son's progress and acknowledged my concerns explained to me why she thought there might be this perception. She was welcoming of my input. She told me she was committed to working in partnership. She gave what I said value even though what she said was completely correct. This was the only time I ever had a bad word about the School and this is how they accepted my concerns. I don't think as parents we will ever be fortunate enough to have a School so committed to our Son's progress than Parklands. They valued him completely. We knew he was a challenge yet they never had enough good things to say about him. They had such high expectations of my son and he flourished as a result. The extremely good practice at School made it difficult for us not to follow suit. We were so surprised at how well behaved our Son was at School. He sat quietly at assembly and played with the other children. The School were so confident about his skills they requested that his helmet be taken off by writing to the Consultant on our behalf. You might not recognise how important this was. You see if my son hurt himself they had to consider liability. Yet my Son's teachers , other staff and the management staff felt his progression and independence was more important than than these issues. They had such confidence in him. They had magic at that School. My son had a succession of 16 support workers none of them able to replicate the School's behaviour programme, which had my son behaving well even in the most challenging environments. I didn't know this then but now I know the reason my son was so well mannered at School; they 'VALUED' him. In all his idiosyncrasies and difference they Valued him. They spent time understanding him and this reflected in his behaviour towards them. They always looked out for him. My son would visit a residential Centre they took notes on his behaviour and recognised how upset he was there and they said it 'broke their heart' to see him soo sad. If it hadn't been for their keen sense of my Son's feelings I would have no idea. My Son was never left behind for trips or any other activity due to his disability. He undertook everything all the other Children did not matter how much effort the staff had to undertake to offer that extra support he would need. This has never happened before or since. Parklands told us one day they were going to remove his pads because they thought he was ready to use the toilet. I couldn't believe it! Where they sure? This spearheaded us to follow suit. It was sheer hard work but the School persevered and insisted no pads at School. You don't know for a disabled child with such developmental delay what an empowering step removing nappies is?? The School would have to deal with accidents and deal with all sorts of other difficult situations yet they took it on. I cannot tell you how important this was. The School and staff were soo positive. Dawn, Barbara and the Head teacher and the other staff didn't think all this work was above their job role. They loved his quirks and wanted to know all about his culture and religion so they could share it with all the other children and celebrate him. I cannot tell you how such a positive experience with a School in regards to my disabled Son had on me. They worked in partnership with me valuing our relationship and our relationship with our Son. They felt it important for us to work together to achieve the best outcomes for my son. When I visited the School all the children knew my Son and spoke positively about him. This is a inner city School with hardly any Asian children there, let alone a disabled Asian child. It is the staff that teach such respect and the children follow. I have never written a Compliment before. I am a hard woman to please. However, it would be an injustice if this School did not get the recognition of excellence it deserves and it is all down to the incredible staff. I have now the experience of many Schools to compare and can safely say out of them all Parklands Primary School with its Inclusive Unit was outstanding and nothing will compare to it. They allowed my son to flourish. They valued him and did not see his disability as a setback. They worked with him so that his disability could be accommodated and he could benefit in all the activities mainstream children enjoyed. He was the cheeky sweet boy not the boy with a disability, challenging behaviours and epilepsy. They were Inclusion. They were Equality. They demonstrated this in their work and ethos not to tick the right boxes. I WANT TO GIVE A GIANT THANK YOU TO THE SCHOOL."

People are quick to criticise and we often hear the complaints and the grumbles about our schools so it is wonderful to hear some of the compliments, some of the success stories which we need to share and celebrate ans shout from the rooftops. Parklands Primary School is a great school releasing a very special magic with a brilliant headteacher and a fantastic team who are making a real difference for children and families and the community they serve so wonderfully well. They are at the front line of Children's Services here in Leeds and are simply one of so many brilliant learning places here in Leeds ensuring that our children and young people and their families are happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful... whatever it takes!

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