Year 5 was the first time I got excluded. I was getting rude to a student and the whole class was laughing. The teacher then stepped in and embarrassed me by belittling me in front of my peers. I did not like the feeling of embarrassment and I did not know how to effectively process what I was feeling, so I lashed out and punched the teacher on the arm. I got excluded.
I received a one day exclusion which was on a Friday and i went back to school the following week on Monday, funny how I still remember this. I should not have been rude to my classmate or punched my teacher. However, looking back at this incident the teacher should have taken me aside and spoken to me about why my behaviour was inappropriate. She should have not embarrassed me like that as that left me feeling like I was in fight or flight mode. Anyway I promised myself not to get excluded again. Well I didn’t well at least not that year. Year 6 was a beautiful year. I had the time of my life, made beautiful memories with people that I still hear from to this day! Primary school, is where I made a lot of good childhood memories. I always think about how times were good back then.
I went to secondary school, however it wasn’t in the UK, it was in Egypt. I stayed there for a year and benefited from the education system there, then came back to the UK the next year to start year 8. I didn’t know it then but that year was going to change my whole life as I know it.
I joined an all boys school. I wasn’t happy about going to one especially when I wanted to go to a mixed school so badly. I settled quite nicely in there to my surprise and I moved up to nearly the top set from the bottom set.
My tutor group was 8SC and I managed to make friends easily. I did start to become a nuisance though always fighting in class and being the class clown. I won’t lie to you, I got a thrill from making the class laugh as I felt loved and I felt quite famous. What’s funny is that I just couldn’t stop being silly to the point that they excluded me for disturbing the class from learning! That’s all I kept getting excluded for in year 8. I got excluded 4 times and I only remember this because the first time was 2 days then 3 days then 5 days then 15 days. They then had enough and permanently excluded me.
During my first exclusion in year 8, I cried my eyes out and I didn’t go home as my dad would kill me! So I ran away and stayed on buses. It was the first time I actually went past 12am on my own. I even managed to find the London eye by myself. I was going through a lot at the time and I was really a confused child back then thinking I was a man in fact I was just a young boy who needed help. In year 8 I got excluded 4 times! I was a really stressed out kid, man I couldn’t take it especially coming from a very strict dad and when I say strict I mean very strict.
Don’t get me wrong being silly in class was fun but it wasn’t fun when they permanently excluded me in the end. All I remember was the pain and torture it caused, the agony after.
After I got permanently excluded no mainstream school in the borough accepted me. I think maybe I was being pushed a bit too much by my dad but that doesn’t mean I needed to get myself excluded. My life got affected a lot because of 1 year of just nonsense. I didn’t want to disappoint my dad let alone make him angry but I just couldn’t stop. I really don’t understand why I couldn’t control myself, honestly I always wanted to stop but I couldn’t.
After I got permanently excluded I was sent to a pupil referral unit (PRU). This is a school for challenged pupils. Everyone in the area knew it was just those bad schools you don’t want to go to. Being permanently excluded from your school is very hard for a 13 year old, I felt a lot of shame and I felt like I let my dad down. At that time I thought my life was ruined.
In the pupil referral unit I was seeing familiar faces and man it was no place to be just continuous havoc. I knew I didn’t belong there. I wanted to go back to mainstream school so I behaved and behaved until one day I couldn’t bear it so I misbehaved. They said they were just about to release me back into a mainstream school as well! At that moment in my life it felt like I hit rock bottom.
Back to Egypt I go
My dad didn’t want me at the PRU so he took me to Egypt. At this point I was now Year 10 so I did my GCSE’s in Egypt. I did 5 GCSE’s and I thought I did quite decently. I got a B in maths and physics and a D in chemistry, biology and English. My dad wasn’t impressed so I came back to the UK in the summer just before year 11 started.
Homeschooling in the UK
In Year 11 I was home-schooled as no mainstream school accepted me. I was at home while people were at school making memories. For example, I saw my old friends in their year 11 graduation suits and I was so jealous I missed out on a good 5 years of secondary school because I wanted to be class clown and what did I get out of it, nothing! It’s not a regret, because I don’t have regrets but if I could travel back to year 8 I would. Anyway, I ended up repeating my GCSE’s at a private centre where my dad paid for my exams and I got maths A*, physics A, chemistry A , biology B & English C.
Fortunately for me due to my GCSE results I went to a good sixth form. It was called Heathrow aviation UTC. Sixth forms don’t really check school records, they’re more interested in your academic abilities, just my luck. It was a new sixth form that specializes in subjects only related to engineering.
I did A level maths and physics and further maths. I failed the first year and was not allowed to do some of the exams because my mocks were so low. I wasn’t quite ready for the A level jump and at the time I was going out a lot and not studying. I changed sixth forms to somewhere closer to me and I stayed for 2 years. This sixth form was better for me and I completed my A Levels receiving maths A and physics A and further maths B. I then went on to study civil engineering at UCL.
It’s been like nearly 10 years since year 8, those memories affect me till this day. If I had behaved myself then I’d be in a different position than I am now. For example, in year 9 you get to choose your options for your subjects, I wasn’t able to because of being permanently excluded. That still hurts as I’m not in university anymore because I don’t want to do civil engineering like it’s really not for me. I’ve wasted a lot of time and it is frustrating.
I’d say to an extent I have moved on from my year 8 experience but at one point it was just the worst thing that ever happened to me. It took years for me to actually move on as during that period I felt a lot of regret and pressure and pain. Thinking back it was a lot of stress that I didn’t need.
I believe how teachers go about things as well has an impact. I was quite rough around the edges back then but almost any teacher could recognize I wasn’t a bad kid, I just needed help. If a person is acting out in class or misbehaving continuously, something’s wrong with him or her and that person needs help. Excluding students from school isn’t always the best solution. I’d say most young people need help to find out what the underlying issues are which are causing their behaviour.
I take full responsibility for what happened but things could have been done to stop me from going to the PRU. Those that work in PRU’s say it’s their job to get people back in schools, but in my case I feel like they just wanted me to never leave. They used 1 moment to say we need to keep him longer. The PRU was not the right kind of place for me. A lot of the people that I went to the PRU with didn’t get 1 GCSE, some even ended up in jail or dead. Being surrounded by all of this had a big impact on me. I don’t ever remember being happy around that age.
If I could go back in time I would.