Grayrigg CE School - Start Small Think Big

Guest blog

Whilst I thoroughly enjoy writing my Headteacher’s blog, I thought it might be nice to mix it up with a few guest blogs, an opportunity for you to hear from other people who are involved in the day to day life here at our unique little school. At a recent curriculum evening, I was overwhelmed by the willingness of parents to share what they think is special about our little school. Receiving positive feedback from parents is always reassuring. After all, they trust us with their most precious gifts 5 days a week. When this blog landed on my desk, I was so moved I couldn’t resist sharing it as the first guest blog…. So enjoy….

Our son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was age 3. Although it wasn’t a shock to us we were still worried about what this would mean for the future. He was a summer baby so that meant he would also be very young going to primary school.

We chose a school with a very good Ofsted and reputation and hoped he would be ok. We soon knew he wasn’t going to be alright. Like other children starting school he would cry every morning when we left him but this happened every day and carried on. He rarely spoke at school and his speech at home completely stopped. He would be upset every morning and angry at night. We were extremely worried about him at this point and had meetings with the school. In my heart though as his Mum I knew it was never going to be right. The class size of 33 was overwhelming for him and the playground was a scary place. My heart was breaking for him.

The turning point came when I decided to give him a day off school one Wednesday and he turned to me and said “thank you Mummy”.

The next day I rang every small school I could think of and asked if we could come and look around. My first phone call to Grayrigg School was a conversation with the receptionist and she was so kind listening to me blub over the phone and she had such good knowledge about autism. We looked round a few schools but I couldn’t wait to get to Grayrigg and have a look. What struck us straight away was how quiet and calm the school was. With only 24 children we both remarked that it was like being “at home”. The children were so kind and caring and the head teacher and staff were so welcoming and understanding. We had no doubt that this was the right school for our son. Within 3 days he had left his old school and started at Grayrigg.

Two weeks later we had no tears in the morning or tantrums in the afternoons. The relief we had as parents was immense. Since he has been at Grayrigg School he has achieved so many things. He has learned to swim, ride a bike and conquer the climbing wall and so many other things he wouldn’t have had the chance to do in a larger school. He has one to one support and is catching up in all areas and excelling at maths. The biggest thing for us as parents is that he has so many friends and all the children are celebrated for their individuality. His speech difficulties don’t hinder him anymore and with it being a small school he will never fade into the background.

My best memory of him is at his first nativity at the church standing at the front singing his heart out into a microphone with tears streaming down my face I have never been so proud. This year his sister started at Grayrigg and she is loving every day. They are in the same class for this first year and they have become such good friends.

A small school may seem like a big leap for some people but for us it was a lifeline and I would encourage anybody thinking that a large school might not be suitable for their child to come and have a look and see what’s happening at Grayrigg.

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