I am a care kid.
I’m not ashamed to say it. I am a care kid. Maybe once, when I was starting my secondary education I was ashamed of it. I was ashamed of being different, ashamed of not living with my parents. I didn’t tell anyone I was a care kid, obviously all the teachers knew but not one of my friends did. Until I wasn’t ashamed anymore. When my sister started secondary school, she told everyone she was a care kid; which meant that everyone in my year found out because siblings talk to each other. Well, the siblings in my year and my sister’s year did. So, with the majority of my year finding out I was a care kid, I couldn’t hide it anymore.
I, am a care kid.
And as a care kid, not much was expected of my life. I was expected to leave primary school with bad SATs grades, I was expected to leave secondary school with little to no GCSEs, I was expected to leave school at 16. The statistics say this:
43% of looked after children will reach the national curriculum test level expected for their age. This is in comparison to 74% of other children.
When I left primary school I left with SATs grades of 5, 5, 4. I am very proud of my level 5 in Science, level 5 in Literacy and level 4 in Maths. The fact I can still remember my grades 10 years on must say something, right? I’m not going to get into the looked after children and education debate. I’ve had enough of that at uni.
Only 13.2% of children in care obtain five good GCSEs – compared with 57.9% of all children.
Not to blow my own trumpet or anything, but I left school with not 5 GCSEs but with 11 GCSES. For my own amusement, and to show off that us care kids can achieve societal educational norms, I am going to share with you what I achieved at GCSE. Bear with.
English Lit – B
English Lang – B
Maths – B
Core Science – C
Add. Science – B
Music – B
History – B
French – C
Resistant Materials – B
Religious and Moral Studies – B
Citizenship – B
I think I did alright. And when the statistics show almost one third of children in care leave school with no GCSEs or vocational tests like GNVQs, I like to laugh out loud.
I hope you’re not getting the wrong idea here, I’m not trying to show off and I will get to the point in a moment, I’m merely showing you that not all us care kids are failures. In fact, most of us rebel by getting good grades.
So, I finished GCSEs and I went on to do A-Levels. I was the first looked after child my key teacher had sent to sixth form instead of college. And she was genuinely surprised I was going back to school at 16 rather than doing a vocational course like hairdressing or something similar.
I wanted to go to uni. I’ve always wanted to go to uni. I must have been about 11 or 12 when I first said to my parents, my birth parents, that I wanted to go to university and become a teacher. I no longer want to be a teacher but the statement still stands : I wanted to go to uni. And I knew that to get into uni, I needed to do A-Levels, and that’s what I did.
I’m not much of an academic person so at sixth form I decided to study the subjects that were fun and creative: English Lit/Lang, Music and Drama. The doss subjects people like to call them. If these subjects are ‘doss subjects’ then please could someone explain to me why I got the grades C, C, D at A-Level? I worked my butt off but could never get a B. I worked my butt off my never seemed to improve. Was I let down by the system at sixth form? If I’m being honest, yes I was. I wasn’t offered any help to improve my grades, nor was I offered any support with work I didn’t understand. Instead, I was made to feel like I wasn’t trying hard enough, that I wasn’t good enough, that maybe I wouldn’t get into university.
But you see, the thing is: I did.
I got into uni.
The statistics for care leavers going to university is shocking, and I’d like to share it with you now:
Only 6% of care leavers go to university – compared with 38% of all young people.
Another statistic that is disgraceful:
One third of care leavers are not in education, employment or training. Compared with 13% of all young people.
6% of care leavers go to university, and I was one of them. If you know me personally or if you’ve followed this blog from it’s inception you’ll know that I went to the sunny West coast of Wales to a seaside town of Aberystwyth to do my degree. And boy am I glad I did. For three years, I studied Education and Drama. A joint honours that I often regretted but I know God has a plan for that yet.
In my Fresher year and second year, I failed modules. And that terrified me. I knew that if I resat these modules I’d simply fail them again so I didn’t. Which meant if I failed anything in my final year, I couldn’t graduate and wouldn’t get my degree. And with that motivation, I worked my arse off this year. That’s right folks, this year was my last year at Aberystwyth. I worked hard and long and procrastinated like normal but I got everything in. I worked with my group for the presentation, and I wrote the play for my dissertation.
I wanted a 2:1. That’s the degree classification you can do most with, you can do your teacher training or you can go on to do a masters… I wanted a 2:1 to prove to myself and to those who doubted me and those in government who say us care kids don’t amount to anything…
Well, let me tell you something; the final results came out on June 23rd (the same day as the EU referendum) and I am delighted to tell you lovely folks that this care kid will be graduating with that 2:1!
I have amounted to something, all that hard work and sleepless nights. All the stress and anxiety. I made it to the end and I have a degree to prove it.
After thinking I wouldn’t make it through to Christmas of my first year, here I am unemployed but with a degree. A care kid with a degree. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it and I don’t know what God wants me to do, but all I do know is that I can inspire my sisters and I can inspire other care kids. If I’ve done it, so can they.
I am a care kid, and nothing is impossible.
(All the statistics are taken from The Who Cares? trust : http://www.thewhocarestrust.org.uk/pages/the-statistics.html)