Growing up my world was busy every moment of every day. I went to school, did after school activities, swimming, Karate, dance and at weekends we went to the Synagogue. Friday nights and Saturday morning services, Saturday afternoon was youth club and dance and Sundays was religion school. Sunday afternoon was reserved for homework and then straight back into Monday morning again. My life was organised by the adults surrounding me.
I did one degree then I started another as I knew nothing else. Only how to study, how to pass tests and exams and being told what to do by other adults. I think it was inevitable that I would have a break down at 21 years old. And nothing seems to have changed today, as we hear more and more about mental health issues affecting our children. If you spend just a few moments researching, the facts will break your heart.
My husband Steve’s schooling was very different to mine. Growing up in the 80’s and being classed as a ‘special needs’ child he was put in a special school. Today he would have been diagnosed with high functioning Asperger’s, but they didn’t see him as a person they saw what they perceived as a problem that needed fixing. His schooling experience was a negative one and he is still processing some of it today.
When I feel pregnant 10 years ago we decided that we were not going to let our daughter live through either of our experiences so we searched for alternative paths. We started with Steiner for the Kindergarten years, moved to Home Education and have now landed comfortably and safely in the Sudbury model at East Kent Sudbury School. We feel like we have arrived home.
Lilian loves EKSS, everyday she wakes up and is so enthusiastic about going and seeing all her friends. Steve and I love the fact that she is not stifled by demands on her time or segregated by perceived characteristics or behaviour. Ultimately, she is living as a respected member of society, where she has a voice that gets heard and is being trusted with her future as it is hers alone to shape and style. So different from our upbringings and we are so humbled to watch her life blossom before us. (Learn more about the Sudbury model here)
EKSS is run almost entirely by volunteers and I have recently started volunteering as fundraising chairperson. The staff and founders give up their time to pioneer this radical model because they believe, as do I, that this is the future of education. EKSS receives no government funding and is financed by families paying fees on a sliding scale so that it is accessible to most but we would love for it to be accessible to all families.
Our dream is to have our own building where the community can grow and expand, open its doors to more families and to pay the staff a fair wage for their hard work. We would also love to be able to offer grants to families who want to access this education but are financially restricted.
To do this we need donations from our supporters, from the people who read this blog and who want more for our children, a monthly or one off donation will help immeasurably to make our vision a reality. You can support us in other ways too and of course we’re open to new ideas. If you have any questions at all regarding donations or fundraising please email me firstname.lastname@example.org.