School Culture

Zara Todd: An Ally

Zara was born in 1985 in London. She attended a special school initially, then transferred to mainstream at the age of seven. She continued with mainstream education at secondary and then went on to university.

Here Zara talks about vital support from an officer in her local authority.


My general feeling by this point, that I got to this point in my education al career is that I had come to the conclusion that most SENCOs, Special Educational Needs Coordinators, and most support workers and in fact most authority figures within education were completely clueless and therefore whether I chose to listen or not was completely up to my own will and whether I thought it was a good idea or not. Thankfully this view was sort of supported by, I was very lucky there was a lady in my local authority who was assigned my case from a very young age,from maybe eight or nine. So she started working with me in the horrendous middle school and she basically had utter contempt for all of the schools that I went to and not so overtly expressed her contempt for how I was treated and handled within the schools, in my presence. So that I was aware that some of the stuff that I was experiencing from a school point of view,was not really acceptable. You did have an adult ally. How important was that? Essential, Because she advocated and lobbied on my behalf, particularly in meetings that I didn’t want to go into. But also she acted as kind of a point of reference. I knew that by having her there sporadically, I knew when I was fighting against stuff, because I didn’t like it or I didn’t think it was right, I knew that I wasn’t completely kind of making it up and it wasn’t just me being a stroppy teenager, there was some grounding in my reaction. So she was absolutely essential and she, I think without her, my experience of education would have been far less satisfying.

Explore more

Explore stories by theme or view the timeline of significant events in education for disabled people

A selection of other stories...