Child with Downs Syndrome denied First Communion

Is it any wonder the Catholic Church has families leaving in droves and faces a bleak future when my local parish makes headline news having denied a child with Downs Syndrome the opportunity to make his First Communion? The story today to be honest moved me to tears. I have worked as a primary teacher for 12 years. I have had my children baptised catholic, was brought up as a catholic and prepared my classes for First Communion. I also worked one to one with a deaf child and went to tribunal to fight for his right to be educated in mainstream school. It is suggested that the school influenced the decision by stating that the child had limited understanding of the RE curriculum and that he did not enjoy going to mass. I can safely say that none of my children enjoy going to mass and that many children have limited understanding of the RE curriculum. If the decision was left to the discretion of the Parish priest as these things often are then he should be ashamed.The school should be ashamed if they did not fight the decision and some retraining in special educational needs is long overdue.
The Catholic church is guilty of blatant discriminations andhas no future if it puts outdated attitudes and doctrine above love and compassion.

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What price a university education?

Today’s student protests against the rise in university fees comes just as my 13 year old daughter is about to decide which GCSE’s she will take. We spent the weekend looking at University courses as she is determined to become a geneticist. We winced as we looked at the fees and for the first time the reality of the huge debt students leave University with hit home. We have five children so there will be a massive amount of student debt heading our way over the coming years.

I was the eldest of six children and I did a four year degree including an exchange year at University of Kansas USA, then a PGCE all paid for by the state. My husband too did a degree in Geography and his PGCE – we both agree we probably didn’t appreciate the worth of what was being provided free of charge.

Our children will have no option but to borrow to pay for their university education – todays protests will more than likely be hijacked by anarchists, allowing the government to deflect attention away from the issue of student debt – I say it’s all about priorities – and the government should prioritize the education of those who are future of this country – on this one the coalition has got it very badly wrong.

Summer born children lag behind at school?

A story in The Telegraph caught my eye this morning. A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that summer born children are at a disadvantage throughout their time education lagging behind peers by the age of seven. My two eldest children are summer born – had the eldest been born two weeks later she would have been in the Year Group below. My children are academic high achievers and labelled as “gifted and talented” but only one teacher has ever mentioned the fact that they are summer born – making their achievement more notable.

I was a primary teacher for 14 years and during my training it was never mentioned that when considering a childs attainment the time of year they were born should be taken into consideration. Being nearly a whole year younger than the rest of the class makes a huge difference to attainment for most children. When teachers do not take into account the age of the child relative to that of their peers a child can be labelled as behind. A child can make a huge amount of progress in the space of a few months – going from being a non reader to a reader for instance, but our school system fails children when not taking all factors into account when assessing progress.

Children are ready for academic learning at different ages – I started one of  my children in an Early Years Unit a whole six months later than her peers because I knew she was not ready for school. I took two of my children out of the system to home educate them because the one size fits all education was not working for them at that time. One child is still home educated the other starts back in a new school today

Parents must be empowered to take a more active role in deciding when their children start school – there is room for more flexibility in the system especially for summer born children. So parents – if the teacher is telling your child is behind and the child was summer born – ask them to think again!