Author Archives: karen doherty

The LAC of potential

Yesterday I overheard a conversation which bugged me.   Two teachers were discussing how pupils from a specific family were often condemned by association with the eldest sibling, long before the children started school – tarred by the same brush. Slow learning eldest sibling, slow learners expected to follow. Disruptive eldest sibling, disruptive followers…All cut from the same cloth….etc These two teachers were saying how wrong that attitude was and  how unfair on these unsuspecting future pupils.

I agree with that.

As I moved behind them in the coffee queue they shook their heads at the injustice of it all and then eyed up the muffins before declaring that they SO earned it after their day with the Looked After Child from hell. Impossible to work with. Never going to achieve anything. Doomed.

Now quite apart from the unprofessional, confidential nature of the subject I objected to the bias against this child.  As the teachers strolled out with their lattes and muffins I was baffled by the incongruent nature of their thinking. How could it be that they understood and upheld the principles of justice for their first ‘client group’ yet not the second?

Surely, each of those children deserves the right to the concept of potential? Surely every child deserves to be seen as a human being and not a category? For me, our duty is to enable everyone to be the best they can be. I’ve taught my share of challenging children and know how exhausting they can be but I remain resolutely committed to them and their potential. They NEED us more than most. We would not blame a puppy which snapped after someone trod on its paw so why curse the child who has been damaged or hurt? No matter how hard it is, we are the adults, we are the professionals, we must search for  the potential that is hidden away in those pain–filled walls. If we chip away from the outside , we help them claw their way out from within.

Here’s a poem chipped out from just such walls:

Lonely is

one stone dropping in a well

hot smoke rolling round your mouth, choking your throat

sour milk on everything

jaggy nettles in your bed

no-one on the swings


What are you going to do about the LAC of potential in your school?