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Perseverance – a personal view

I have recently returned from a magical hour at Leith Academy where I saw a young man presented with a prize that justifiably and literally had his name on. This former pupil of mine (only former because I left) has just started in 5th year and has been in the secondary resource provision at Leith Academy on account of semantic pragmatic disorder which sits loosely on the autism spectrum and has many traits in common. Prior to moving on to my current post I had responsibility for ensuring that the pupils in the SRP had appropriate levels of support across subjects. I have to put my hands up and admit that I thought this this young man would be struggling in the senior school but am delighted to be proven wrong.

The prize? The Duncan Forrest Prize for Perseverance, which is the motto that Leith Academy proudly portrays on its school badge and adopts as its motto.

Perseverance can have its downside sometimes, as I’m sure the Head would be able to allude to when perseverance comes in the guise of a certain support for learning leader who bent his ear almost from the moment of arriving in post to have the SfL team moved together. It worked.

I have had to adopt a certain level of tenacity and determination over the years when working with children with additional support needs – not for me – but on behalf of providing their pathway to progression and their right for integration and inclusion.

I also joke that I have thick skin and broad shoulders and can carry the weight of my vision for a fully inclusive school community. I hope I am making the right waves and I believe that if we all change our mindset and not only accept but revel in diversity then we can have a positive impact on the community we serve. The seniors in mainstream Knox Academy haven’t disappointed and in fact have taken their curiosity at seeing their old infant school in its new form into an opportunity for fund-raising and collaboration.

This afternoon some of the pupils with additional support needs from the mainstream school came along to Meadowpark for a visit. It was wonderful to see them and my heart was light as I considered the opportunities for their inclusion and development in East Lothian’s wonderful new facility. I am bursting with ideas and plan to set out my vision over the next few weeks with my depute head teacher hat on (not the hats I have been wearing of late: site manager, interior designer, administrator, cleaner, adviser to name but a few) and solicit the good people of Haddington through the appropriate channels to ensure that my vision for an inclusive community built around Meadowpark becomes a reality.

There have been challenges already and I have no doubt that many more will present themselves but I have learned to cultivate my resilience and am learning – very quickly – to know who I can trust to work in a collegiate, solution – focused way to turn this dream into a reality.

Perseverance – a poem

Your determination to succeed

is not born of greed

but in you from birth

and for what its worth

keeps driving you on

after others have gone.

You smile and you joke

with other good folk

who let you be you

coz you always come through.

CPL you’re one special guy

who brings a tear to my eye

and because I’m so proud

I SHOUT IT OUT LOUD-

keep doing what you do

and be proud to be you.

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