Hello! My name’s Ayah. I am physically divergent and passionate about changing the political and educational system as well as taking a keen interest in building up resistance against Capitalism. I am writing this to make others aware of how monstrous the education system (and the whole system) can be by sharing my own story. Before we start, Physically Divergent is a term I created as an alternative to the word ‘Disabled’ as I found that term to be negative and oppressive. Physically Divergent (in the simplest explanation) means physically different. However, I decided to reject the word ‘different’ as I felt like it separates me from society and portrays me as an outcast.
Throughout the Education system, I have felt like an outsider (no matter how hard I tried to fit in). Primary school was very difficult to get through, I would always get into fights and cry about it later when teachers told me it was my fault. My teachers would never hear my side of things properly and despite me having 100% attendance and completing my homework on time I was branded as ‘the troublemaker’ and the one that would ‘stir’ things up. I had barely any friends and was not exactly the class favourite. My Cerebral Palsy made things extra hard. I would always end up having crying outbursts whenever I could not do something with my right hand. I felt embarrassed and ashamed of my CP.
When I left primary school, I went to an SEN (Special Educational Needs) school. I again felt out of place. You would think that in an SEN school the pupils would get support, think again. Every student who walked through the doors of that school was miserable and had unresolved anger. This is a school that excludes the students when they are at their lowest point. Behaviour due to lack of support was awful. Students would bring knives into school, misbehave in lessons and be violent towards other students. At one point a student brought a knife into school and attempted to use it against another student. I felt very unsupported and my relationship with people my age got worse. The teachers again never really understood me. I would have breakdowns almost weekly. When I left my SEN school, a boy that got excluded by the teachers at the school died as a result of being stabbed. Upon hearing the news, I was shocked and immediately felt anger and frustration. This was a boy who was kind and caring. This was a boy who would look out for me and made sure that I was doing okay. But, this was also a boy who was branded as being a ‘troublemaker’ and ‘disruptive’. This was simply not true. If systems of support had been in place I can’t help think he would not have ended up dead. His death taught me that millions of young people like him are repeatedly being let down by the system and led down the wrong path. The system is at fault and not the young people.
Towards the end of year 9, I moved schools. The rest of my secondary school experience would be in a mainstream school. Luckily, I was in a very supportive environment. The students were very friendly and the teachers would listen to me and take the time to understand my needs and what I had to say. But, there still were problems. The school was underfunded, teachers had their pay cut by the government and ESN students (Students who have English as an additional language) were unable to be fully supported due to systemic failings within the education system. Due to all of this, I emailed the then Education Secretary Damian Hinds 3x to express my concern about the education system and particularly to express my concern on how much teachers get paid. In year 10, I joined NME and from there built my understanding of the schooling system, anti-capitalist resistance and issues within society.
Thank you for taking the time to read this! Please support No More Exclusions to make sure we dismantle structures that are oppressive within society and in particular within the Education system.