So there have been two factors recently that have again made me question just how outstanding Hagley seems to be. Just for a disclaimer, I would like to add that these opinions are not to be associated with every student and my criticisms do not reach the whole staff. However, these two factors come in the form of a student in need and a letter.
Two days before I returned home for Christmas, I received a letter from my old high school and sixth form, no doubt asking me to return to speak about my experiences of university and advice to offer for A Levels. My response, to put it quite simply, was f*** off.
When I had my mental breakdown, it was hardly acknowledged and even less so when it was discovered that I had Aspergers. Only two, maybe three, members of staff supported me throughout the whole time of sixth form, one who left halfway through for another job.
I would like to give a special shoutout to Mrs Morley, an absolute star. It was often that I wouldn’t be in school or I would turn up only to go home soon after. She was the accommodation officer and to her, my reasons were my final word and she never questioned me, nor pushed me. As for some of my teachers, they constantly pushed me for a reason as to why. It was treated as ‘suspicious’ that I was constantly ill. I was far too embarrassed to explain time after time that I had depression and anxiety. My response was generally: “it’s none of your damn business.” Of course, I couldn’t say that so I got questioned a lot.
Even with school support, I was lucky to receive even that. It was either too late to fit me in, the service was limited or I didn’t get anything at all. It was pretty dire, to be honest. It wasn’t as if I was even asking for much and I hate to think of those who needed more support than I did.
Most of the teachers were altogether okay, but I questioned whether a few were really fit to teach and still do. I had one tell me in all seriousness that there was nothing wrong with me. Even with my diagnosis of anxiety, nearly none of the staff treated it as a serious condition, one that could ail me, particularly in music. Anxiety was not counted as an illness that was holding me back. In general, I just wasn’t clever enough, I wasn’t working hard enough, or education just wasn’t for me. In every way I had been discarded as a student who had little value to them so I didn’t matter.
Furthermore, to throw this in as another reason I’m frustrated, I wasn’t doing a subject seen as intellectual, therefore, my education was not as paramount. Many times there had been complaints about Health and Social, the teacher in general. What did the member of staff in charge say? It didn’t matter because Health and Social wasn’t a ‘real’ subject. Well, thank you for your concern. I can see how much your student’s education means to you, you absolute prat.
All of this was incredibly frustrating to me the whole time I was there. As a disabled and mentally ill student, there really was no support for me. The only time I was helped was when those few teachers put themselves out for me. So a big thanks to them else I would have received nothing.
The head teacher loves to boast about their status as ‘outstanding’. Perhaps in exam results but their support for students leaves something to be desired. This is reinforced in another student in need who has been left by the school to deal with their issues on their own, mostly by the Head himself. I can’t even begin to say some of the students who misbehaved and were still allowed to stay at Hagley, and one student needs help so suddenly the school can’t deal with her. I’m sorry but that only reinforces my terrible impression of them.
I don’t look at my time at sixth form in fondness, not at all. I don’t think anything could ever change that. I’m lucky to have been able to move on and succeed on my own, and I only wish all the other students the same.