Jennifer’s reflections

Reflecting on the last 4 months of being involved with the Education is Special project, it seems to have flown by and I am really enjoying my work. It has also made me reflect on my own life and experiences from going to a special school and then mainstream.

I have only known the pupils at the schools that we are working with for a short while, but I have seen how much they have grown. They have gone from the oral history training to the interviews and they have taken on board what they have learnt. There is still some practice needed, but I am really pleased with them all for how hard they have worked. I enjoy going into the schools each week to visit them. It is a joy to see them learning and seeing them happy and look forward to Joe and myself visiting.

Just before Christmas, Fox Hollies, Victoria and Mayfield had archive training at Birmingham Library, with an archive session planned later this year for Dame Ellen. I know all the children had a good time at the Library and enjoyed learning about different artefacts.

We are coming to the end of recording the interviews and are now working on putting everything together for our magazine, exhibition and film before the Celebration Event in July at The University of Birmingham.

We are currently working with the schools on each of their presentations for the event and looking over the school’s archives such as brochures and photos, they are also starting to write blogs on their experience and involvement of being on the project.

The project has also shown or helped me reflect on how society, people out in the community and families still see children and adults with a disability. They often still feel that they need to be wrapped up in cotton wool and not given the chance to lead an independent life, or be made to feel as though they can’t live an independent life.

It also doesn’t help when day centres are closing down and there aren’t enough colleges providing support for people with disabilities in having a job or gaining the skills that are needed for work.

I shall miss going into the schools and seeing the children progress in life. This project has helped them to grow and has given them additional skills for the future. I hope that they all go on to live successful, independent lives.

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