A NOTE FROM ROSA
We have received this wonderful note from an old Unicorn, Rosa.
The Unicorn School helped to provide me and other students with so many years of education and happiness, and all that has arisen from the many hours of hard work from both teachers and students alike.
I was able to make friends… converse with others and even my teachers on an equal footing as respected individuals rather than as part of a monolith failing to live up to expectations, yet alone a grand ideal. The Unicorn school sees students for who they are rather than for what they lack, and encourages them in their personal interests as much as government mandated curriculum.
Most of all I respect the teachers for being honest with me; about how I (specifically) learn best, what I need to work on, and ultimately that many aspects of the education system are a sham excuse to keep children out of trouble or safe. What society or the government values is not necessarily what I value, and even if it goes against most of my personal ideology I still have to spend 18 years of my life in it to get a mere letter or number stamped on a piece of paper.
The Unicorn school provides an education that allows the students to enter jobs and serve the wider sense of the global community as clogs in a machine.
More than promising an uncertain outcome for 18 years of life spent sat at a desk studying, it has provided me with joy in the present moment so that I have not felt the entirety of that time has been wasted!
Somehow, I came out of the education system with a love of learning and a hugely enhanced sense of self worth.
Ultimately, thanks to the diligent support of the Unicorn school, I exceeded expectations and not only achieved the highest grade possible in my favoured subject (Fine Art), but secured a 5 (the highest grade achievable in the lower maths exam) — my most challenging subject. All this helped me to win a scholarship at my first choice 6th form college in Oxford, for which I cannot thank the Unicorn School enough.
The Unicorn School is blessed with the unbelievably rare and special kind of teachers who will give time from their breaks and after school to help students. Ever-caring, considerate and compassionate, I have always felt that the teachers of the Unicorn school have been on my side, rather than waging a losing war against them. I am filled with gratitude for the teachers instilling rather than destroying my love of learning.
At mainstream schools, dyslexic, dyscalculate, dyspraxic, autistic children, or anyone that doesn’t meet the expectations of standardised education, are told that they are not acceptable, do not make the cut and will never be enough. I and many others often recall sitting at desks, crying silently or just not turning up to a lesson in which students and especially the teacher avoid us, ultimately sinking into depths of despair and self-deprecation as a result.
The often traumatic experiences of attending schools unequipped or uncaring of their students leaves holes in us, every one of us, even those without learning disabilities. For those lucky enough to find themselves at specialist schools like the Unicorn school, there is much to unpack; it is easy to focus on the academic improvements made by the unicorn teachers tutelage, but I think the emotional investments made by the staff (and parents) often go under-appreciated as there is no way of really measuring them like you would with exams. In the one-to-one sessions after school and during homework club, teachers engaged students by talking in a casual and relaxed manner about the subject matter, providing much context and personal anecdotes that made the information memorable and relevant to the students on a personal level. I remember many gales of laughter over such conversations.
These are teachers are strange… They will demonstrate how to measure weights by making a cake with the class, will buy us second hand books to cultivate our love of reading, set aside lesson plans to really engage the students on a personal level with the subjects, even if that goes against administration. They will not blame children for not understanding a lesson, they will never roll their eyes or shout. No child is ever afraid of the bell of doom, singling the day's beginning, nor feel they are walking straight into the jaws of a great monster when passing through the school gates.
For me the unbelievable happened. I started looking forward to going to school.