Writer Jenn Ashworth was recently elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in its “40 Under 40” initiative. Author of three novels, numerous short stories and articles Ashworth also refused to go to school for many years, attending a couple of Pupil Referral Units in between just not going. She wrote a piece about how it was for her for the Guardian newspaper.
“But isn’t it also true that there are plenty of adults (most, perhaps) who would not choose to spend their days locked into a series of rooms with 30 people dressed just like them; to be startled by a bell every 35 minutes; to queue for 40 minutes of a 50-minute lunch break in order to eat; to stand outside in the cold for 15 minutes twice a day; to be told to “shoo” when standing in the wrong place; to be forced to sit on a sports hall floor in rows and be lectured at for 20 minutes twice a week; and, most of all, to be bored, bored, bored out of your mind – bored to the point of depression, to the point of rage.
I have worked in a prison. It is not that different. Most grown-ups would not volunteer to spend five years of their life like this. This is what I wanted to say then and what I still want to say now: disliking mainstream school and declining to take part in it is not an illness. It is not a mental health problem, or a behavioural problem.”