My school hadn’t had many disabled pupils before me, says comedian Alex Brooker, but there was a good network of supportive people

Journalist, presenter and comedian Alex Brooker looks back in Teachwire, on the boisterousness and occasionally misguided, if well-intentioned, lessons of his time in the classroom…

My mum wanted to send me to a special needs school, but my dad didn’t see the need for it. I ended up going to a mainstream infant and primary school, where I was very well looked after, but it was a bit of a challenge for them.

Back then I was still having operations on my hands, and the school had to help me work out how to write.

As a student, I was okay. I was a bit cheeky – I did what a lot of kids do and tested the boundaries a bit, seeing what I could and couldn’t get away with. I used my disability when I felt like it, which was probably bad.

I did the 11-plus and went to the local boys’ grammar school, Norton Knatchbull. There was a bit of a boisterous atmosphere there.

The teachers included me in everything. I never felt there was anything I couldn’t do, even when it came to sport. I was obviously better at some sports than others, but I played rugby, cricket and hockey.

I remember the games teacher once going out of his way to get someone he knew to make me a special glove with Velcro on the end to help me hold a hockey stick. The teacher, Mr Challis, didn’t have to do that.

It’s a big thing to have – a good network of people who are willing to go above and beyond. The school hadn’t had many disabled pupils before that, but they really looked after me, and I’m extremely grateful. I’ve visited a couple of times since, and it was a pleasure to go back.

There’s a story I tell in my stand-up about my first day at secondary, when we had a lesson in the school’s outdoor swimming pool.

I remember the games teacher putting armbands on me and putting me in a canoe, which I thought was a bit odd, and wondered how he was going to fit another 29 canoes in the pool. He didn’t give me an oar, so I remember just spinning around, watching everyone else having swimming lessons.

A lad I was at primary with told the teacher I could swim further than him, and I remember the teacher running up and helping me out the canoe, because it turned out he’d just wanted me to be included – which was sweet, but quite funny…

Read the full article My school hadn’t had many disabled pupils before me, says comedian Alex Brooker, but there was a good network of supportive people

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