School Culture

Sue Bush: A Cold Culture

Sue Bush was born in 1948 in London. At the age of three she was sent to Chailey Heritage, a residential special school in Sussex, where she stayed until she was sixteen, then going onto college in London.

Here Sue recalls a harsh environment at school.


We found out later that the staff were actually told never, ever to show us any kind of emotional warmth because it would be bad for us. I think in those days it was the kind of, you know, you had to learn to be totally independent; the whole kind of, ethos of the place was independence, and I imagine they meant both physically and emotionally, so, you know I felt from a very young age that emotionally I had to, kind of, get on with it, it was pointless kind of pouring out any troubles to adults 'cos they weren't any good, they wouldn't help.

The treatment for TB at the time was bags of fresh air so the children slept outside in this good Sussex air, but they forgot to change the kind of treatment for all the other people. Now if you have Polio one of the things you suffer from terribly is bad circulation and you really do feel the cold, and you get covered in chilblains and you go purple you know, you go, your legs and arms go purple, but this wasn't considered important, the fresh air was supposed to be really good for us, so we were, we had school outside, we slept outside, all weathers, apart from if it was bucketing down, even when it was extremely cold and I can remember lying there in the bed at night thinking, 'this is actually so awful, I wish I could die,' I was so cold, 'It's so cold I can't bear it'.

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