I had a very dear friend who had three children at the same Primary school. She had a good sense of humour and told me that she worked out very carefully the timing of her visits at Parent’s nights. She was often cast down by reports about one of the children, so she made sure she began with his teacher. She always ended with the daughter who was doing extremely well, so that she could go home on a ‘high’.
By the time Jah moved up the comprehensive school, Sam had proceeded to University, so our Parents’ Night visit was solely to learn about Jah’s academic achievements. We cannot talk of ‘going home on a high’ here, but usually this was a bearable experience, except on one occasion when he had definitely not worked hard enough. This was when he was getting older and really needing to be more serious about study.
In my most recent blog post I mentioned a wonderful national scheme – an obligation to help “looked-after” children. A Designated – called ‘virtual’ Teacher is appointed to promote the educational achievement of all adopted and fostered children. Such a teacher will have a work-load of many children around the country and undertakes visits to see how the child is getting on at school. That is exactly what Jah could have benefitted from. Ah Well. At least I can say that I am delighted that such a scheme is now in operation for today’s “looked-after” children. I so wish it had existed in the 1980s. It could make a difference for the whole of a person’s life.
One summer, on the same evening as Jah’s Parents’ Night. I had been given a free ticket to see the ballet at the Royal Opera House. It is the only time I have ever been there. I remember vividly, sitting there watching glorious dancing in an amazing setting, but going round and round in my head were the comments of the school teachers. “Could try harder”. I had to pinch myself to try and sit back and enjoy the ballet and the whole environment and atmosphere of the Royal Opera House. It was not easy.
HOWEVER, on a more positive note, the most significant school-related things to happen during Jah’s teenage years were three magnificent school holidays. These were lovingly referred to as ‘School Journeys’ and Jah’s commitment to these holidays showed that he could certainly apply himself when he wanted to. Of course we paid for the holidays, but he decided that he wanted extra money to spend while away, so he decided to do a paper round to save up extra money.
Big brother Sam had done a paper round for many years. Now Jah had a round of his own. They were both delivering newspapers in a big tower block – not an easy task, especially when the lifts to the top floor were out of action. It amazed us that Jah persisted with the round, that he set his alarm, got out of the house on cold dark mornings and faced the daily challenge. He could clearly do something when he wanted to.
Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The first School Journey was to Greece. He came home more tanned than usual and radiant. That holiday was followed by one the following year to Italy and the third was to Teneriffe.
The holidays were led by a dedicated teacher and some other enthusiastic leaders. Every year the teacher presented each youngster with a postcard at the end of the holiday and on Jah’s he always wrote “Mr Perfect” This is what he wrote on one of his cards:
Thanks for coming along. Like last year your behaviour was impeccable. You have shown true consideration and respect for others. You seemed to have enjoyed yourself, singing, dancing, playing games, swimming, partying and going to the disco. I hope all these memories will live with you always. I know these experiences have helped to mould you into the very pleasant, kind, generous person you are. It’s been a pleasure to have you with me. You can come along anytime a trip is planned. Best wishes. G”
A “report” like that did wonders for Jah’s self-esteem. It also lifted our spirits.