School Culture

Angela Smith: From Freedom to Regimentation

Angela was born in 1962 in London. Her parents came to England from Guyana and settled in Walthamstow where Angela lived with her eight brothers and sisters. At age five Angela went to a local special school. Then from the age of ten she attended two residential special schools run by the Spastics Society (now SCOPE), in Lincolnshire and Kent.

Here Angela describes the difference between going to her local special school and residential special school.

  • Angela Smith
  • Angela Smith
  • Angela Smith


(Local Special School) It was for all disabilities, not just cerebral palsy, they had even children who were recovering from road accidents, you know when you break your leg? I think it started off as this school for delicate children, you know one of those? I remember going there, I was happy there, partly because I came home at night and partly because it had a range of children, it actually didn't feel like a special school 'cause some were virtually just recovering from, like being in hospital after being run over, so it felt like an integrated school and the nice thing about it is, I never, because I was very fortunate, I used to hang around with kids who were mobile and they used to come and meet me at weekends and take me out so it was like being in a mainstream school where you could socialise afterwards.

(Residential School) The first one was run by a former Army Major and he ran the school like we was the Army! We could have gone Afghanistan after he'd finished with us, you know. I think it did leave me a bit institutionalised, it was very regimented and after a while you internalised it.

I did my CSE's there, five of them, but still there was a heavy emphasis on rehabilitation and learning to walk and this was from the first form and they got me walking but it was a lot of effort, it was very uncomfortable, 'cause I didn't have any balance and I'd be on the floor more than I was on my feet and it became a chore each time, it made me very depressed and I didn't know how to say about it, so that hurt me a lot and it was a lot of effort you know, getting from A to B and falling over. And I used to get calluses on my feet because where my walking pattern was bad, so you'd end up pulling muscles or getting hard skin where you put too much effort on the wrong side of your foot and we had to have physio once a week.

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