We got some great news today about Daniel: it looks like they’re going to let him repeat year 5 next year at school. It might seem like a strange thing to be happy about and also a very simple thing to arrange but it really wasn’t. They don’t let children repeat years in Scotland for two good reasons:
- They don’t want children to reach the age of 16 and be legally allowed to leave school before they’ve completed year 12.
- Their philosophy is to accommodate all children in a class, regardless of their abilities.
While I agree with these reasons, Daniel’s situation is unique. The main factor in his favour is his January birthday which means he could have delayed starting school one year had he started here from year one. Also, when we left New Zealand he was in year 3 and had only completed 3/4 of the year. When we arrived in Scotland he had missed the first quarter of the school year and they put him in year 4. This was against our wishes; we wanted him to go into year 3 here in Scotland. We think they probably didn’t have space in a year 3 class and so they put him in year 4 instead, although no-one has ever confirmed this.
Daniel has found school hard academically and he hasn’t made any friends, despite being here for 18 months now. His social development is behind that of other children his age but it doesn’t help that he’s also one of the youngest in his class. We asked Daniel about 6 months ago how he felt about the possibility of repeating a year and when he replied favourably we decided to push forward to make it happen. Now it’s almost 100% certain and just in the last couple of weeks Daniel has started playing with two girls in the year below him and hoping to be in their class next year.
I don’t think he’s cottoned on to the fact that this means he’ll be at school for an extra year overall but we’re not going to point it out 🙂
On a different topic, both kids are having tennis lessons at the moment and loving them. At the last lesson the teacher was impressed with all the kids and said, “You’re on fire!”. A very common autistic trait is to take things literally which is exactly what Daniel did. It was funny to hear the teacher reassure Daniel that he wasn’t really on fire.