Aspirations: A Story

30 September 2015 | By Tom Waters

As regular readers will know, we have been doing lots of writing and thinking about outcomes recently. We have developed an 8 step outcomes process and we know that there is only really one way to start on this process and that is Step 1: Do we know what really matters and do we know about the child or young person’s future aspirations?

Last month, on the eve of GCSE results day, Emily shared her family’s story about what this means to them.

“Twelve years ago our adopted daughter was about to start at the local infant school. We had been told when she came to live with us a year earlier that it was unlikely she would ever access a mainstream school such were the severity of her needs. We also weren’t sure that she would manage due to her emotional needs, general developmental delay and speech & language difficulties but we wanted her to have a chance of integrating with her peers, the chance after such a difficult start in life to be just ordinary. Each day, then week, then half term we held our breath waited to be told that she wasn’t coping.

Day by day, week by week, half term by half term she not only coped but started to make progress. Our little dot managed bit by bit to understand what she heard, to talk in sentences, to learn to read, to recognise numbers but more importantly to make friends and be appreciated for her smile, her calmness, her loving ways and for never ever giving up when work was hard and took a long time. She got on and did what she could and finished work when she could and never gave up and never complained about how hard it was to write, spell and do maths.  She wanted to do her very best, be with her friends and please the teachers, teaching assistants and her parents. But most of all she wanted to achieve for herself never ever measuring herself by what others could do only what she could do the day, the week and the half term before. She shook off any unkindness and grew with resilience and sheer determination into the lovely young lady she is today.

The reason I’m telling this story tonight is that tomorrow she will get her GCSE and BTEC results, 8 subjects (one a double award) and we don’t give a hoot what her grades are because despite everything she went and sat those exams and did the course work and made sure she understood as much as she could. She did this because everyone who she has been fortunate enough to be educated by believed that she could achieve, knew her well and how best to support her. Expectations have been high and we all shared the same aspiration for her to have the opportunity to do what everyone else did, to do her very best and for her to be happy in her own skin. Whatever happens tomorrow she gets a big fat A* from me”.

Post script: On results day I rang Emily to see how her daughter had got on and was thrilled to hear that she had surpassed what she and others had hoped for. She has stayed on at 6th Form to continue to work on English GCSE and, after a bit of (stressful) toing and froing with the college, she is now also undertaking a Level 2 Certificate in Animal Care to help her to follow her dream of working with dogs in kennels. What is as important, however, is her own sense of achievement.

If you’d like to learn more about the 8 Step process, you can find a poster here. http://www.helensandersonassociates.co.uk/8-steps-good-outcomes/

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