Anyone ever hear of ‘Key to Success’ another of our government’s great initiatives! Apparently it is government funding but Google (other search engines are available) the only thing I found was a login page, no other information. However, being aware of Pupil Premium I guessed it might be something similar. For those not aware of pupil premium it is a pot of money that is available to children who qualify for free school meals or did within the last 6 years.
The only reason I found out about key to success was the arrival of a letter on my doormat, inviting my daughter to a summer camp at her new secondary school. The inclusion of a stamped addressed envelope also told me a lot to, what does it assume, about the fact an SAE is included – people in receipt of benefits don’t reply. The letter itself left me boiling. The letter stated the aim to give your child extra numeracy & literacy over the summer holiday with an opportunity to learn new skills, build resilience and confidence in dealing with some of life’s ups & downs.
How do we break down these stereotypes? Why assume just because a child gets free school meals or was eligible they need extra help with numeracy & literacy. I know research is out there and talks about various groups under performing, especially those from certain groups, including those who are poor & from certain ethnic groups, but why send it out without checking whether a letter such of this is needed. This letter arrived once SATS were published, why not get the reports from the primary school first & phrase it individually, concentrating on what they really need and also personalising it to the child?
Being me & still not happy (in fact furious) I decided to call the school and spoke to a member of staff , who tried to placate me, by saying it wasn’t just about numeracy & literacy but confidence. Ok, my daughter has had confidence issues in the past, mainly relating to self-esteem, but I have worked with her to improve them & she is certainly not under confident, as proved on her transfer days. She insisted on walking alone to her new school on her transfer days, she also made new friends, making the first move to chat to new people.
My concern is I have ‘marked’ her card by challenging how she was selected for this. Also barriers need to be broken down, just because she lives in a single parent family who once claimed benefits doesn’t mean she is not intelligent or able to cope. In my opinion this reinforces how benefit claimants are perceived. In over 30 years nothing has changed, I still remember my parents seething & returning from parent’s evening having argued with teachers about my abilities. They were told I was incapable of doing O’Levels, but they stood up & guess what I took them & passed them. How history seems to be repeating itself. I feel like I am continually fighting, yes it’s my job as a Mum but these stereotypes need smashing and for this I won’t be a wallflower.