As well as working with four schools, we will also be collecting stories from individuals who have experiences in other parts of special education in Birmingham.
Christine is the only person we have interviewed who says that she prefers mainstream school to special school. Although she has a Learning Disability and Autism, Christine felt that she was not able to fulfil her potential because she wasn’t pushed enough.
Christine started in a mainstream school, but her family always wanted her to be in a special education setting, so she moved on to a special school at the age of 11. The special school that she attended was joined with a mainstream school, so Christine split her time between both schools. She went to the mainstream school for her maths lessons as she was at a much higher level than the other children, but this caused her more anxiety when she went back to the special school. Christine always felt like she was being treated like a kid in the special school, as she found all the work too easy. She didn’t feel like it gave her the motivation and the skills that she needed to achieve in life. Her favourite part of the day was when they did PE because she loved just being able to run around and especially playing football.
She says: “The hardest part of education if you have special needs is the barrier to getting proper qualifications and the education to achieve your full potential.”
At 16, Christine moved back to Birmingham where she started volunteering for a charity. She also went to an Adult Education centre, but she felt really out of place and daunted being at a mainstream college. Fortunately, Christine found her happy place at Rathbone College. This is a special college in the Jewellery Quarter, which sadly has closed down now. Her favourite lessons were music and maths. I was in the same class as Christine and we both felt our teacher Tony gave us the confidence we needed to perform on stage.
I feel that Christine has grown in strength and confidence throughout the years. We lost touch after Rathbone, but when we met again at CASBA, I was so happy to see her. I was happy to see how far she has come in life, being a part of the CASBA Ambassadors group and other disability charities. It is so great to see and hear all the wonderful work that she is doing. Keep up all the hard work Christine you are an inspiration.