I do like to read. I always have. When I was a little girl, even before I hit the teenage years, it was difficult to drag me out of bed in the morning – because I had been up late at night, reading. My mum used to call up the stairs, to remind me to put out the light, and I, without taking my eyes off the page, would agree, when I reached the end of the chapter; only to find myself sucked into the story vortex, coming to when I heard them coming up the stairs.
You could always tell which one of my parents it was. My dad has this kind of springy-boingy-ness about him. He could bound up them, two at a time, although he tended not to when he came to give me coffee-and-ginger-nut-flavoured goodnight kisses. My mum was, not slower, but softer. When they trod together, that was the time I knew that the light really had to be off.
In my innocence, I thought that it was the sound of the switch that would give me away, so I perfected the art of turning out the light in complete silence. I would lie there, feigning sleep, while they made their bedtime checks of my sister (next door) and I, slowing my breathing to what I thought must be a sleeping rhythm. It took me years to realise that they must have known all along, being as light is the sort of thing that can be seen in the darkness. They never said, and neither did I.
Now, call me shallow, but I like a good story. I like a page turner, and I like a happy, or if not happy, a satisfying ending. I like the mystery to be solved, the hero and heroine united, loose ends tied up – and even better, the possibility of a sequel. That feeling when you are positively sad that the story that has kept you so enthralled is ended is most likely the reason I like series fiction so much.
There aren’t many volumes of non-fiction on my bookshelves. Actually, I tell a lie. My bookshelves are an interesting and eclectic mix of my books (stories) and his books (how-to-do-things). My dad occasionally attempts to remedy the situation by buying me a biography of somebody worthy he thinks I ought to be interested in or a book of local history from the valley where I grew up, but I have to admit, non-fiction is not really where my heart lies.
When I read I like to be transported. I like to escape the humdrum existence of the every day. If it’s a bad day, especially so. So, I have to admit, I picked up my review copy of Jarlath’s book, Don’t Send Him in Tomorrow, with trepidation.
I’ve met Jarlath before. I’ve heard him speak, and discussed the subject with him. I was pretty sure I knew what would be in it – and I was right. What he has written is a pretty unvarnished account of education – and the adult destinations – of young people with special educational needs and disabilities; people like Sam.
It’s not what I would call a comfortable read. Certainly not for a parent, or even a teacher, like me. We all want to believe the best for our children. We want to think that other people will see them the way that we do, when they leave us.
But the truth is that other people don’t. The truth is that the future remains an uncertain and frightening place for parents like me of boys like mine. And I would be an awful lot more comfortable with it, if other people understood.
If you’re a parent, this book is an uncomfortable read. It’s hard to live your life with fear. If you’re a teacher, and especially if you are a headteacher or in a position of educational influence, you should read this book.
Everyone who has an interest in education, particularly school leaders and policy makers, should read this book – because a good education, one that fits young people out for adult life, belongs to all over our children, not just the 80%.
And then, when you know why working with young people with SEND is important you can go and buy my book and I’ll tell you how. 😉 (sorry, couldn’t resist)