Long View on Inclusive Solution’s work

“Hello there, all at Inclusive Solutions. I wanted to let you know how much difference you made to our lives.

I went to an Inclusive Solutions conference in Nottingham about twelve years ago. At the time, my son was a very unhappy person at a school in Leicester. He had been diagnosed as having Pervasive Developmental Disorder on the Autistic Spectrum so he had full time support. Your conference made me focus on his abilities and his whole personality, with the Pizza analogy, rather than on his deficits and disabilities. I was like a born again Christian, trying to show people how the scales had fallen from my eyes – my son did have abilities, he would be able to cope with school and life. Unfortunately, the school did not agree with me and after years of fighting, they asked us to take our son away from the school at the end of year nine. It was a particularly unpleasant parting of the ways – they were going to place him in a non-exam teaching group where he would be farmed out to a local college for ‘Life Skills’ whatever they are. We knew that he was able to sit GCSEs and because we asked for the decision to be changed, they gave us an ultimatum, “Accept what we have proposed and stop interfering or find another school for him.” This isn’t very scholarly language but after hours of crying I thought, “Sod you – we will find somewhere else for *Ben.” He had been attending a lovely youth group in a school 20 miles from our home so I rang the Head and *Ben started there the following September. (For four years my husband and I drove him there and back every day as the local authority refused to help with transport as they said he should have stayed at his previous school. My husband had to change his job and it cost us £50 a week in petrol – all his DLA money.) Their attitude was so different that *Ben really thrived, achieved 5 A-Cs at GCSE and 2 A levels. Six months after leaving school he had a part-time job with the Leicester Tigers Rugby Club and he enrolled with the Open University. In October he graduated with an Honours degree in History at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham. It was one of the best days of our lives. That same week, he started agency work at Santander Bank in Enderby, Leicestershire. He was on a temporary six month contract but after only three months his job was made permanent. This young man, who was considered ‘totally innumerate’ at school was now helping people to manage their money. *Ben has a very rounded life – he plays cricket for a local team, supports Leicester City, goes to the gym and is very active in our local parish. When he finished his OU degree he said that he no longer needed his DLA as he was able to live an independent life. DLA helped us for years but *Ben no longer needs it and he is very proud of this. I remember how you encouraged us to take the Long View and I particularly recall the story that the infant teacher told about Rio Ferdinand. I came home from that conference so full of hope for the future. I just want to say, thank you for giving my family so much hope and encouragement. Good luck for the future. Best wishes, *Ben’s Mother” **Names changed to remain anonymous

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Colin Newton

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