Recently I met someone who works as a virtual teacher with ‘Looked After’ and adopted children. Of course I already knew that ‘Looked After Children’ is the terminology for children in foster care. Her task, as I understand it, is to oversee the educational needs of such children. I was amazed and delighted to hear about the care and the many follow-up arrangements that are set in place today. This help is available and considered to be the right of the children for the whole time that they are in education, even when they appear to be doing absolutely fine. There is also a substantial amount of money for each child in this situation. I wish such care had been afforded to Jah during his school days. The teachers at the extra-learning department were very caring and enthusiastic, but my contact pointed out that often an adopted child, or one who has had to move from foster home to foster home, has a whole lot of extra concerns filling their head, and sometimes these crowd out necessary learning. I am not sure now whether this help is also offered to children who are adopted as babies like Sam, but I would think so.
NOW BACK TO 1983
Jah settled well into his Primary school in North West London. He needed help with reading. I used to take him on Saturday mornings to a retired school teacher for extra help and he eventually made good progress. I am glad we persisted. The walk involved a bus ride, then a fairly long walk alongside a stream, through fields until we reached Hampstead Garden Suburb. It would have been easier by Underground but for some reason he did not like travelling that way and in order to get him to the session, I had to find a pleasant way of getting there.
He set off quite happily each morning to school. We enjoyed the walk together. I looked at the window boxes and flowers. One house had grapes growing up the walls and onto the railings. This interested me, as in Leicester some miserable person had chopped down his apple tree, because he did not like children stealing a few apples!! These grapes could easily have been picked from the street. I imagine they were left intact, although I did not check with the householder. Anyway they looked good and some window boxes were really colourful. I don’t think Jah appreciated the flowers as much as me – obviously. He much preferred looking into the windows of what he called “The Naughty Knicker Shop”!
Jah chatted happily as we walked along to school.
There was good music provision at the school.
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
He was lucky enough to be allowed to try first the violin, then the cello and even the double bass!
Image courtesy of koratmember at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The atmosphere in the playground was quite wild. We parents observed many strange things as we waited for our respective children. One poor boy was so distressed because his separated parents fought publicly – OK only verbally – but this was distressing for the small boy and anybody who was a witness to such a harrowing scene.
When Jah was invited to a friend’s birthday party, all the parents were welcome to stay, which was so friendly. However I did not enjoy hearing the children complaining about the contents of their party bags. I must say that I was shocked. Why were the children so rude and ungrateful I wondered? Why did these London children think they had the right to grumble and say exactly what they thought? Why couldn’t they exercise any self-control/manners? (But maybe there are children like that everywhere? ?)
The house where the party was held was so “Bohemian” that it really interested me. The family lived in part of a large house with hugely high ceilings. The mother’s current partner was busy constructing an extra floor inside the room. Huge timbers lay strewn along the floor. What he was doing was very clever. He was creating a whole new floor for some beds. These had to be accessed by a ladder, but fortunately no child clambered up it at the party and no child fell over the timbers, even though they played some energetic games.
The party boy’s bedroom was also a revelation to me. His bed was like a four-poster bed, with a light blue parachute over it. It looked very exotic.
Anther boy in the same class lived in a beautiful five-storey house. His family owned the whole house. His father worked in the music industry.
As an adult I was pleased to see that there was a good social mix in the area. Fortunately children did not worry about such things. They just chose their own friends and got on with life.