Last week, Mom and I visited the first of several nurseries on the short-list for May. The long-list was over a hundred of nurseries all within Lambeth and driving distance from us. We have to stay in Lambeth so the council will fund anything May needs – from extra equipment to a one-on-one teacher for her.
Lambeth requested we choose a nursery rated “outstanding” by the government. Out of the hundred-plus near us, a whopping two were rated “outstanding”. Of these, one has a 200+ waiting list and one has a 70+ one. Each have space for 12 babies.
But, Lambeth told us that, due to May’s special needs, she may be able to jump to the front, or near the front.
Which brings me to the story relayed to me around the Thanksgiving table two nights ago. My friend went looking at primary schools (elementary for the Americans) for her son with a friend who had a child with Down’s Syndrome. She waited outside the Headteacher’s office of an “outstanding” primary, while her friend sat with her daughter inside explaining her child’s needs.
“She is non-verbal,” the mother said, “but she can understand everything being said to her.”
The Headteacher shook his head and pressed his lips into a frown. “I don’t think we will be able to accommodate her. We don’t really like to admit children like her with such needs.”
The school, he continued, found it too difficult to offer the time, attention and care that a child like her would require. He didn’t, however, find it difficult to point this out in front of her daughter, who, while not capable of speech, understood every word he said and started to cry.
Thankfully, my mother and I already visited one “good” rated nursery last week that welcomed May with open arms and had experience of working with other children with cerebral palsy. We are waiting to hear if Lambeth will accept that nursery.
This week I will also check out the “outstanding” nurseries to see for myself if their outstanding care stretches as far as children like May, or if they can only be outstanding if they escape working with challenging children.