Seven Kings – How It Feels to be A Teenager is available from the Community Care Bookshop
The author of a new book on an East London comprehensive throws into question whether social care professionals are working in a joined up way with schools to deliver the Every Child Matters agenda.
Education expert Fran Abrahms spent a year at Seven Kings High School in Ilford observing children and staff. Her book suggests that schools do not always get the support they need when they reach out to staff working with children beyond the school gates. It is also a fascinating insight into what makes young people tick.
An extract from Seven Kings by Fran Abraham
Doug Harrison, head of pastoral support
It had all started last year, during the summer term, one of those situations that don’t seem too serious at first. A Muslim girl in year eleven whose parents didn’t approve of her having a boyfriend and who wanted the school to stop her spending time with him. Although he was a nice enough lad – a Muslim in the year below her at a neighbouring school – the staff did their best. Sometimes her brother , who was in the upper sixth, would take her out at lunchtime to stop her meeting the boyfriend, and her dad would be waiting by the school gate for her when lessons ended.
Such situations are not unusual. Many of the Seven Kings girls lead double lives. They’ve had girls in the past who’ve kept changes of clothes at different friends’ houses.
One girl kept up two completely separate, parallel existences for years.
Ruksana’s parents thought her brother was looking after her last year and this year they asked a cousin three years younger to do the same…
Like a few others before her, Rusksana came to see him to beg him not to tell her parents about some transgression. “Please, sir. They’ll send me to Pakistan to get married if they find out. They’ve already threatened to do it.”
In most cases, girls are just testing the boundaries. But there’s something about Ruksana, a sort of grim, gritty, determination. ..
It was this refusal to back down that made it less of a shock when she and the boy disappeared. Both had packed bags, delivered them to a friend’s house. Both were in their school clothes and started the day as usual, Ruksana waved inside the school gate by her father, the boy waved off from home by his parents.
That had been a fortnight ago. And this is where the story gets really strange, because they have had these situations before. Usually by now they would have turned up.
A little voice whispers that maybe they have turned up but their families have dealt with them by removing them from the scene. Only time will tell.