I have always found this subject quite difficult to talk about but I feel ready now to share it with you all . I was 6 years of age, 13 years ago to be exact. I had loved school up to November 1997 when I was in year 2. I had attended a different school up to then and had a lovely group of friends. Things were to change for the worst when we moved house. Our old one was a bungalow by the sea, cute but far too tiny for a family of four. The new village was about 15 minutes away from where we used to live and it had a school within walking distance..ideal but it meant leaving my old one that I loved behind. It was a teeny village school with only 86 pupils..I had come from a primary school with nearer to 200. Quite a size difference. As well as that classes were combined- Reception & year 1, year 2& 3 and year 4-6.
It was quite strange being taught in this way as I was used to one, maybe two teachers per year group . I have always been quite frightened of big changes suffering from anxiety all my life. When I was younger it was far worse and I obviously wasn’t as good as hiding it back then either. I joined the class in the new school and already felt that I stuck out like a sore thumb, the other pupils knew what was expected of them..I did not. Things were to worsen. My teacher had exceedingly high expectations of 6-8 year olds, expecting perfect handwriting . She was really petty for example in maths you had to draw a number 6 almost as if it was a small case letter b, if you didn’t, this would be pointed out and you may have had to re do that section of work. My handwriting has never being great and aged 6 it was pretty awful if I’m honest..she was not happy.
Maths has always been my weakest subject…I managed to achieve a grade C at GCSE but with an incredible amount of hard work. I remember once I genuinely didn’t understand a piece of maths work and I clearly didn’t understand when when she was explaining it to me. She labelled me as “Bone idol” and I felt embarrassed but didn’t understand what it meant at the time. There were other incidents when the class were watching a video in the school hall about the Tudors for history and once again I had been struggling with Maths which had taken me far longer than anyone else. I was left in the classroom alone, I just remember crying and crying and ending up in an absolute state. I’m pretty sure there were other occasions that I had to stay in the classroom but that might have been because I was so anxious I couldn’t physically eat my lunch. The dinner ladies were quite insistent that we ate everything!!
Things had been bad for a while, my Mum said that one morning I had said to her “going to school is like going to hell”….I don’t remember this but I must have been very down at the time. I think one of the main problems was that I was taking such a long time to settle in, however I did make a best friend who stuck by me until year 9 at high school.
At the very end of year 2/beginning of year 3 I remember the day that she wasn’t in school…everyone asked where she was. She didn’t ever return as a teacher at that school. I later learned that she had been diagnosed with M.E or Chronic Fatigue System (CFS). I can’t help but feel guilty for this as I feel that I was the final straw..the person who tipped her over the edge.
I was quite relieved to realise that in the year 6 leavers assembly that I was not the only person afraid of her. We read out our memories of primary school and the comments made about her were very negative. Although I don’t particularly like her I did feel that some of the comments made were so disrespectful..especially one…my then best friend compared her to a witch due to the amount of black she wore!! I think many of the other teachers were horrified at this as it did not reflect well on the school. After the assembly the reception and year 1 teacher thanked me for being the only one to put something positive about her…I can’t actually remember what I said now.
I didn’t atchually realise how much I had bottled my emotions at the time. I talked about it with my mum last year and became upset……. A part of me wishes that I could speak with her 13 years later for just one last time and let go.