Had a fascinating conversation over Christmas with my niece Trish who is a Primary School teacher.
In her class this year are two children who live under the same roof. One is Sam, the family's real son. The other is Kellie, their foster daughter. The family have another child of their own, a daughter called Jasmine who attends the same school and is in the year above the other two.
Interesting three-way dynamic. They rub along like any ordinary set of three siblings, which means they sometimes are best friends, sometimes they have tiffs.
Every so often something happens which gives the children something to cope with. This is what happened just before the school broke up for Christmas;
The older pupils put on a play, well a show more like. Several little acts; a bit of dancing, a boy who plays the tuba (honestly!) a couple of sketches and some singing. The top act is Jasmine, the older sister of the two pupils in Trish's class. Jasmine can really sing, apparently, a bit of a star.
So for the whole of the week leading up to the show, Kellie the foster daughter and Jasmine the older daughter didn't get on well, there were all sorts of emotions. Nothing mega, just a bit of sister rivalry, what could be more normal?
On the morning of the show Kellie (the foster daughter) began telling everyone that HER sister was the star of the show. It was all "MY sister this" and "MY sister that" and Trish thought to herself "How lovely and cute and warm..."
During the show Kellie could be heard still giving the "MY sister" thing large, shouting "Go on Sis! You show 'em!"
As Jasmine was getting a big round of applause Trish noticed Sam the brother stand up under cover of darkness and sneak out. She found him in the corridor. He was crying. Big tears.
Trish said that Sam was incensed;
"Kellie keeps going on about Jasmine being HER sister, but she's not HER sister. She's MY sister."
Trish had a discreet word with the foster carer who was grateful for the information, and I bet helped smooth things down as best one can, not that it would be a piece of cake.
It was one of those situations where you are pleased that your foster child feels part of the family, but unsettled that it's given your own child something to deal with.
BTW, the other thing Trish told me about is how quickly the numbers of Primary schoolchildren with difficulties are increasing.
She has 11 out of her 31 pupils on the books of the school's intervention staff.
Her Head Teacher is on the phone more to Social Services than parents, the local authority and the supply teachers office etc., put together.
I think the country is going to suddenly wake up to a crisis for children not unlike the way the rapid arrival of the dementia crisis took many by surprise, even though it had been rumbling for years.
And I doubt that schools will be better supported, just as the social care services have been left to deal with their crisis. Mind, they have the Red Cross pitching in.
Who's going to pitch in and help education?