Tuesday 4 November 2014

"Trust dies but mistrust blossoms."

I wasn't going to write this post as i didn't want to go through it all again but i think it is important for Opeie to have this to look back on and know why we made the choices we did for his well being, (I've used happy photos of Opeie to perk the post up a little). I know to some people when they talk to me I come across as an over protective parent, I'm really not but I do have high expectations about the level of care the boys receive from outside of myself and Mrs M. We seem to be in that minority of parents around us that makes (apparently obscure) decisions about education and the stepping stones of our children's development. I wrote a while back about how difficult it was letting go of Opeie to start nursery even though at the time i believed it was for the best.... It wasn't and our awful experience has guided us in a different direction for future learning.

I didn't want Opeie to go to nursery and neither did Mrs M but we were concerned about the social side of things so we reluctantly took the difficult step. After many nights chatting we finally found the nursery that we thought appropriate for Opeie and our initial visit couldn't have gone better. A very small Montessori nursery in a quiet and private little village with a school attached to move onto. It all seemed perfect but as we found out early on looks can be deceiving and we were left feeling duped.

The staff seemed very motherly and despite the sick feeling in my tummy at the thought of leaving Opeie with someone else, we placed our trust in them (man am I kicking myself now!). The first few weeks seemed great, Opeie enjoyed going and it seemed that we were far more upset than he was. He came home excited and exhausted from the first couple of sessions and with each one came more confidence for us, that was until a few weeks in. I turned up at the building to pick Opeie up one Friday afternoon and I could hear him screaming, he's not a screamer and only cries if he really hurts himself. I walked in to the area where the parents waited, he caught a glimpse of me and attempted to bolt for the door but was held back, as I tried to get into the room I was purposely obstructed by a member of staff who said "let me explain what happened first", my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. I asked her to get out of my way and then pushed past to get to Opeie. It seemed he had had a fall earlier in the day and hadn't calmed down (did they call me? No they did not!). At that moment I didn't want an explanation, it was clear Opeie wanted to get home so we left.

Thinking it was just a fall the following week I took Opeie again and he seemed okay but really not himself. The next session though he was very upset before we had even arrived so when we got there I decided to stay with him despite being told "it would be better if you just left". Five minutes after we arrived another little boy was dropped off who was hysterical. Mom quickly left and the little boy sat facing the door she left out of (his face almost touching the wood), screaming. As I sat there trying to calm Opeie down I noticed that none of the staff were attempting to comfort the poor boy. I sat there for 40 minutes with Opeie and the boy sat there still hysterical. What if that had been Opeie? What made it worse was that the Nursery manager was showing a potential new family around and was sitting less than 10 feet from the distressed boy. Had that been us on the day we had been visiting, Opeie would never have attended. Well I got up and angrily left but was followed out of the door by a member of staff desperately trying to find out my issues. I explained that I was disgusted by what I saw , that it was unacceptable and that I expect more for my son. The response I got... "There are a lot of children in today and it's difficult to tend to them all", there were around fifteen children in that day and there were two staff. Shockingly I wasn't contacted that night by the manager, clearly it wasn't an issue and made me feel like it was common practice.

When we got home I started thinking about the Friday he fell down so (although it seemed a little bad) I sat Opeie down for questioning. Opeie may only be three but when something happens he is always very clear with his explanations of events. It turns out that when he fell during outdoor play the only person that came to him was one of the little girls there. Opeie really changed after that day, he became anxious and really didn't want to go to nursery, the mere mention would send him into a panic attack and each time he would clutch his leg (which even now we have no idea why?). I feel so stupid now but I continued to take him. The following session Mrs M came with me as she was home and I needed to discuss the crying boy and my concerns with the manager. The nursery manager gave me an explanation, I told her I still felt the situation was unacceptable but she seemed sincere. But as Mrs M sat across the room with Opeie she picked up on defensive body language a side of this woman I hadn't seen.

Stupidly, I gave them the benefit of the doubt until one morning dropping Opeie in. He was really upset and although it went against everything I believe in as a parent I left him and walked out, but didn't leave the building. I hid, I watched and I listened, as heartbreaking as it was I stayed there for around 45 minutes and no one tried to comfort Opeie, he wasn't hysterical but upset enough to need comforting. It wasn't until I stepped back slightly that the nursery manager spotted me and shot over to Opeie to calm him down. As you can imagine Opeie was removed from the nursery and to this day I still haven't been given an explanation, I asked many many times "how long would you have left him there had you not seen me?" But was made to feel like I didn't deserve a response.

It's amazing sometimes how situations fall into place and a chance encounter in a toy shop got me chatting to another dad whose daughter just happened to be at the same nursery. Surprise surprise he was also taking his child out because she was being bullied (by four year olds). The nursery managers response was apparently 'there's only so much I can do'. It was nice to have it confirmed that it wasn't just us with issues. In fact since leaving, that was only one of three other instances Ive heard about. After our experience I've realised with the nursery in question the word Montessori is in fact just that, a word. We were disgusted by the level of care we saw there and the experience left Opeie with anxiety issues. Thankfully that was many months ago and our panicky little boy is back to his old self.

This ordeal a long with some terrible things we've witnessed or been made aware of at Seth's school has guided us down the home schooling route. What makes me angry is both of these places have a glowing Ofsted report. Which makes it clear that that bit of paper means absolutely nothing at all. The thing I am most angry about is that I let this happen when I should have taken him out at the first problem, its made me realise I need to be a lot firmer in the decisions we make in regards to the boys and that I should always go with my gut instinct when making these decisions.

So now to prepare for a few years of home education, I wont lie I am very excited so some good has come out what we have been through and at least now we know that Opeie is moving in the right direction. 

1 comment:

Rebecca Beesley said...

It is always heartbreaking to hear of situations like this (you know part of our story and sadly it is the same with schools - perhaps worse in some cases as they don't always even pretend to care!) But it is so encouraging and exciting that something so positive and so amazing is coming out of it. I am convinced you will be brilliant going down the home-ed route. We have no regrets about home-schooling. My only regret is that we didn't do it sooner because we kept sending J into school when the warning signs were there and it took two schools and for us to be seriously concerned about his welfare at school before we finally took him out. Because we wanted it to work out for him and we had no idea about homeschooling at that stage. I had the gut feeling too when i went to the intro session the summer before he first started school. I spent the whole night awake and uneasy but i just thought it was the fact he was starting school. I too am kicking myself now - there is a lot to be said about gut feeling - it often proves right. All the best with your new adventure! xxx