Rant alert: if you’d rather not listen to me having a good old rant, stop reading now.
When your child is too ill to go to school, your local authority is obliged to offer you alternative access to education. In Nora’s case, she gets ten hours of online learning each week, and two one-to-one hour-long sessions with a tutor .
Ten hours of online learning probably doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a challenge for Nora. She is severely dyslexic so trying to concentrate on a screen-based lesson for two consecutive hours is exhausting. And she is still recovering from a debilitating illness, which means she gets tired very easily.
The pressure of having to log on for two hours a day has added to her general anxiety. Clearly, this isn’t ideal. Her CAMHS counsellor has told us that putting too much pressure on Nora at this stage could be detrimental to her recovery.
So, I contacted the learning provider. Our conversation went like this:
Learning Provider (LP): She really should try to log on to every class.
Me: Well, CAMHS have strongly advised this isn’t a good idea and I need to ease her back into learning slowly.
LP (slightly dismissive): Oh, CAMHS always say that.
Me: Really? Why?
LP: They only care about the child’s mental health.
That was yesterday. I’m still speechless. Surely Nora’s mental health is all that matters?
To add insult to injury, I’ve since found out that Nora’s usual English class has been cancelled for the next two weeks and she will have to join an older class. I only realised this when we tried to access her usual class and it wasn’t available. When I questioned why this was, the provider told me that Nora’s English teacher is on jury service so Nora’s class will have to join an older class for the next two weeks.
This morning, I emailed the provider to ask how it will benefit Nora to spend two weeks in a class designed for older students, discussing a book she’s never read. So far, I haven’t had a reply.
The whole experience has left me pretty dispirited. It’s made me question whether the alternative support we’re getting is less about Nora’s education and more about ticking boxes.
Is the number of times Nora logs on to an online class – even one not aimed at her age or ability – really more important than her mental health? Apparently some people think it is.
End of rant.