Moving on from primary school and taking the next step onto secondary is always a major milestone. For the children at Arc School Napton, it was something the team there was determined to mark in a significant way, despite the pandemic which had stopped some students being able to attend school.
One of those children was Ruby, for whom having a chance to say thank you and goodbye to everyone at the school was vitally important. Her Mum *Annabel tells us more:
“We adopted Ruby after fostering her. She had experienced significant trauma and has attachment disorder and by the time we adopted her, she had lived in nine placements in four-and-a-half years – including a failed adoption. She was over the 99th percentile for traumatic stress.
“The local primary school was just too much for her – too many children, too much noise, unpredictability and she was very anxious as the team around her kept changing. We were told there was no school which could support her in our area, so we home-schooled her for more than three years.
“Then we found Arc School Napton which is not in our county, but just 12 minutes from our house and it has been amazing – amazing for Ruby and for the whole family.
“My God, what a difference, it was a life saver. They really understood Ruby, but we were all involved – there was support for the whole family. The children at the school are their first, second and third priorities – it is all about getting it right for them.
“Within the system, she had been so let down and here was the school of our dreams. Before, when she was in mainstream, I was having to go into school and support her as they couldn’t help her properly.
“Home schooling went ok, but having Ruby at a school which could meet her needs meant we could go back from being teachers to being Mum and Dad. She’s a smart cookie and there were gaps in her learning, but they were able to fill those. She is interacting better now, she has made friends
“When we got her final report, we were so thrilled we just cried. Ruby had gone from not meeting the ‘expectations’ for her age to exceeding them during her time at Napton. It just proves that having that right support and understanding can make the difference to a child’s life, socially, educationally and emotionally.
“During lockdown Ruby wasn’t able to go in, but they made sure she was absolutely and consistently supported throughout.
“Napton also went out of their way to make sure Ruby graduated. It was so important for her to have closure and to say thank you to the people who have made such a difference to her life. She wanted those rites of passage – the t-shirt, to say goodbye to her friends. She gave a speech which had everyone in tears.
“What Ruby needed was to find a school that deserved her, and she found that at Napton. She found a place where she felt loved and wanted and together they have created a foundation that she can take into her life to build on and thrive.”
This was Ruby’s speech at the special graduation ceremony for Napton’s leavers:
“When I joined the Arc in October of Year 5 I had come from a school where I never felt I was wanted. Right from the beginning, everyone here has made it very clear to me that I am wanted, and I have felt very much at home, and very happy here.
“So thank you to everyone for your friendship. Thank you to all the students, and especially to my best friends Frankie, Paige and Cody.
“Thank you to all the staff, and an especially big thank you to my class teachers, Elizabeth and Jacqui. It's been great being part of Jac's "A team" with Joe and Cody. Also thanks to Mia, Terina and Emma for all your help.
“A special thank you to Beth. I will remember our talks and our pamper days, and I will miss them.
“Also to the cooks, Ange, especially for the lasagne, and to Roger for the ‘offee pie. When I grow up and get my own cafe, I hope you will be my first customers.
“I am leaving to go to a school in Northamptonshire, and I will be the only pupil from the Arc to go there. So I will miss you very much and think of you always.”
*name has been changed to protect confidentiality