|Chloe aged 5, using her cane, walking to school holding hands with her friends.|
I can’t believe that 7 years have passed and next week I will pick up my daughter for the last time from your school gates. I was so scared of giving my four-year-old into your care. I had so many questions; would you look after her, how would she manage, would she make friends, would you be able to make the adjustments needed so she could learn? I had already been through so much heartache, loss and acceptance. I knew how much she had to offer but I also knew it wasn’t an easy task. Everything is so much harder and takes longer to process when you can’t see very well and rely on Cochlear implants to hear. A congenitally deafblind child who learnt using braille was highly unusual and there was no precedent to follow. We needed a willing school up for a challenge to welcome her into their community.
We thought long and hard about where she should go, what size school would be best, considered the buildings and outside space she would have to navigate and tried to assess the attitude and ethos of each place we visited. I will never forget the morning we sat in the Headteachers office and she looked us in the eye and said, “we would LOVE to welcome Chloe to our school.” I knew you genuinely wanted her and that made all the difference.
Tonight, I watched Chloe give a brilliant performance in the end of school production. She even started the whole thing off. There she was, centre stage ordering cast members around (in role) and it took my breath away. You have allowed her to find her voice, to blossom and grow into the kind, feisty, funny, stubborn and complex 11-year-old she is now. Often vulnerable and sometimes frustrated she feels accepted and part of the school community, just as we hoped. She has friends, she has despite all the barriers to her learning done better than anyone could have predicted academically, and she still wants to go to school every day which says so much for the security you have given her.
I want to thank you for being willing to work with me and the team of people Chloe comes with that enable her to be in mainstream education. Your SENCo has been worth “a pot of gold” (Chloe’s words) to me and supported changes in the background that made sure Chloe carried on progressing. When things got difficult, she helped solve the next puzzle and carved new pieces if necessary so the fragile picture would hold. It wasn’t always an easy experience, but I trusted that I would be listened to and together we worked out solutions so that the bumps in the road were navigated safely.
I know I will miss walking her to school and being able to hand her into your care knowing she will be acknowledged, celebrated and accommodated so well. You have never made her feel less than any other child because she learns so differently. From the Sense Pompom challenge to Chloe running a Friday lunchtime Braille club you have encouraged her to accept herself and show others what she is capable of. Each year I held my breath while she was introduced to her new teacher and they quickly got up to speed with the team that accompanies her and the challenges Chloe faces. From her wonderful foundation teacher who gave her an exceptional start at the school to the year 6 teacher who gave her the courage to go on residential and helped her gain some independence you have never let her down.
Thank you for providing such a great experience at Primary School, for recognising her achievements and getting her ready for the next big adventure. We will never forget what you have given our family and I suspect you may remember Chloe for a long time to come.
With so much gratitude,