My dear readers may remember my post entitled The Swimming Situation if you are new around here and haven’t yet read the post, in a nut shell it summed up what the school swimming situation was at that time. It’s been a while and so I thought I’d give anyone wondering what the current swimming situation is an update.
Now bare with me as I explain, as I may get carried away with myself as it’s fair to say emotions are running high ‘round here right now when it comes to the swimming situation. And as my dear readers will know at times I don’t hold back, so hold on tight as I begin to update you….
So let’s rewind to when I wrote that first post about swimming almost a year ago on the 28th February 2017, a lot can happen in a year and although some things have improved greatly this has become a stale mate situation. The previous head teacher pretty much point blank refused to fight for Livvy for any kind of funding to make the local pool safe or even visit other pools to see if there was a more appropriate pool for which the school could swim at. After fighting for so much within school I guess at that time, although not happy with the situation, I had to pick my battles and this was one battle I couldn’t see winning, when the main individual involved was unwilling to fight for us. Therefore Livvy did not attend swimming for the whole year and instead spent the time with a lower year group, I think it’s fair to say the novelty of spending time in a different class soon wore off for Livvy.
Although I knew there was little I could do at that time to change the situation I still mentioned it at every opportunity, every meeting with or without the head teacher I would drop it in and ask if we, as a school, could change pools, if there was any pot of money anywhere to aid the changes needed but no one gave an inch and I was left facing brick wall after brick wall.
Fast forward to today and we have a new head teacher who appears to have inclusion at the top of the agenda especially with regards to Livvy and the stories of the years of not being included and unfair treatment that she has had to endure. At last we have someone that is willing to fight for Livvy and be a voice other than that of Phil and I. I’m sure the local council screen our calls and emails after years of harsh but justified criticism from us. At the start of the year I felt somewhat empowered and positive that now we have someone at the helm who wants to take Livvy swimming and is happy to openly discuss the situation with the powers that be then it was just a matter of time until Livvy was in the pool swimming away like the happy little water vole she is.
How wrong was I, you know when you start something and you wonder why, that’s just how I feel right now. I know the reasons why I’m pushing for swimming lessons, and I know I’m right to do so as a mother but I’m just so tired of the constant merry go round that the council feel is acceptable. The past few years whilst we have been dealing with the local council the point of contact has changed so many times that I now no longer know who to call for help and advice, never mind about complaining. There is no urgency to anything or even care and understanding at the simplest level.
One example of this which has really infuriated me to the point where all I can see is a red mist of anger before my eyes and the best option for me was to walk away and let others deal with the situation. My emotions started taking over and my logical polite self that would have said ‘thank you very much but no’ was taken over by a red mist of total anger, disappointment, helplessness and disregard. So without going into great detail of the overall situation taking it to the basic level, before the council will part with any money we have to prove that we have made reasonable adjustments to enable Livvy to swim. With this in mind it was suggested to the head teacher that a reasonable adjustment was for Livvy to wear a full swimming costume covering her arms and legs, I guess something similar to a wet suit. The head teacher discussed this with me before responding and we both agreed that this would not be suitable, I don’t need to explain to my dear readers why this would not be suitable to someone who can not have any part of their skin exposed to UV light.
At this point it didn’t bother me too much, it was a simple question that one would possibly ask with no prior back ground knowledge. However a few days later not only has this person contacted the XP team for advice if a full swim suit would be ok, which obviously the answer was the same as the head teachers, the same said person felt the need to email me as Livvys mother and ask once again.
Now I can except that these questions have to be asked but when two professional people have given their verdicts why then is it acceptable to ask me the same question again! Were they expecting me to say something different? If anything I’m going to be the one person that wants to over protect therefore on which planet would I have ever agreed that by leaving Livvys hands, feet and face exposed would allow her to swim in an unsafe area? If I had responded to these questions then one can only imagine what I would have said especially when the same said person also asks how we mitigate this risk on daily basis! Remember this is someone from the council, the same council who have implemented an education health care plan for Livvy, a legal document for which everything stated in it must be adhered too. Within this said care plan it outlines, in meticulous detail, what is needed to keep Livvy from being exposed to UV light and the reasons why. Therefore one would presume that to ask such basic questions the EHCP has not been read by the person asking the questions, yet they are in a role which one would presume they would need to read such a document to make clear judgements about the case with regards to funding and ‘reasonable adjustments’. Maybe I am presuming far too much here which is clouding my judgement, who knows?
I felt my best response was silence, I discussed this with Phil and the head teacher separately and they both felt for different reasons that a response wasn’t necessary in this situation, there was enough information on the table from various sources that I couldn’t add anything new to the discussion at this point.
In the mean time we have had a pretty significant meeting where no one from the funding or EHCP side of things within the council showed up. Yet a week later I’m being chased for a response to the ‘full swimsuit’ question. As you read this is I hope you are starting to feel some of the frustrations that I feel as Livvy’s mother. You can imagine my first response when opening the second email, it was something like ‘if you had showed up to the meeting you could have got all your answers and more’ with a few unpublishable words thrown in for good measure.
I could go on and on and tell you about every conversation that I’ve had with various different people on the swimming situation but what I feel it boils down to is no one within the council is willing to take full responsibility for the situation, its even been said to me that the full responsibility does not lie with them, so who does it lie with? As everyone I talk to blames a different department or a different organisation. Anyone that does come to our way of thinking are then met with brick walls when they take our fight back to the powers that be.
I have been reassured that within the next few months it will all be resolved, but I’ve been here before with false hopes and dreams laid on a platter for the council to snatch it away just before anyone is able to act on it.
What really gets me going is that there is such a simple solution to this problem, a problem that if not dealt with correctly could be life threatening to my daughter yet no one sees the importance or understands my frustrations and anger.
So in conclusion to the swimming situation, things have moved on at a very steady pace but that’s not without countless tears, frustration and sleepless nights from me. If anyone from the council ever stumbles across my blog and reads this post I hope it helps them to understand that it’s not all about justifying spending money, there is a little girl that just wants to be like her friends, she wants to swim like her friends and wear a normal swimming costume like everyone else, she doesn’t want the universe she just wants to be accepted for who she is and for people that are put in a position to help to do what it says on their badge and not pass it on to the next department whilst holding their hands up saying its not my responsibility.