Night time visitor

For over a year we have had a nighttime visitor. Brief glimpses. Garden dug up. A few signs. Then last night FINALLY you revealed yourself in all your glory.

Kind enough to stay long enough for the mobile phone to adjust to the darkness.

Even a stroll close up to see what the strange humans were doing. The Government is trying to cull your kind. But you are most welcome here.

Bubble burst

Dad why are you smiling.

I’m playing that mind training game. My brain age has been assessed as 28.

I take that it’s 28 months and not years then Dad.

Consider my brief basking bubble has been officially burst.

I was listening to a chap on the radio basking in the news that Brexit has moved a step closer. In his bubble this is wonderful. The new deal our great PM has negotiated is brilliant. Billions been taken away from Europe and will be given to our NHS and schools. Taxes will come down. Businesses will boom. Wages will rise on the back of all these wonderful new trade deals. For our country and our kids I really hope his bubble is not burst. I really do.

I wish I was in this Brexit bubble – but I’m sadly not. This brilliant deal is based on two dubious principles.

  • A Customs Union Border in the Irish Sea splitting the UK in two with Northern Ireland effectively staying under EU trade rules. Bizarrely our PM said last year that this idea would be a disaster and no Government could ever sign up to it. Equally bizarrely our Foreign Secretary has said the arrangement will be a great deal for Northern Ireland. Staying in the Customs Union is a special deal. Ok so why is this special deal not been given to Scotland, Wales and England. Oh yes I forgot that would mean staying in the EU.
  • All the important negotiations on trade and relations with the EU will be done after we officially leave. Basically we would have 14 months from leaving to sort this out. So basically we leave without known on what basis we are going. But here’s the rub. Here’s why many on the Right love this idea. It gives the Government the right to leave with no deal. Just have to wait 14 months then thy can blame the EU. That’s the crash and burn strategy many on the Right have always wanted.

The bottom line is this new Brexit Deal is a BAD DEAL which was rejected last year. Rejected even by the team pushing it now. It’s a Great Deal for the Rich and a BAD DEAL for the rest of us. Again I hope I’m wrong but deep down I do fear for the future. No I don’t think the Country will go bankrupt. Life will continue. But it will be worse. We are not in a strong bargaining position for the new trade deals. Any deal with Trump will mean opening up our NHS to his big business friends. To compete the Government wants Britain (now Northern Ireland remains effectively in the EU) to move to an economy which is based on low wages and zero regulations. Where the drive is for tax cuts and profits for the Rich. Our wages are going to fall and our worker rights are going to be eroded with no safety net of public sector support.

But apparently I’m missing the point of Brexit. One of the biggest supporters of Brexit has said ‘Brexit was never just about the money’. That’s easy for you to say when your not exactly short of a penny or two. But ok point taken. Let’s look at travel rights. Britain’s will lose the right to travel freely in 26 countries and will not benefit from free or discounted medical cover in those countries. That’s not so good. One of the first actions of Brexit will be to scrap EU regulations on Food Standards, Environment Protection, Freedom of Speech, Workers Rights, Maximum weekly working hours, Maternity and Paternity Rules. The rules designed to protect us. Thats not good either. But hang on let’s not forget we get a different coloured passport with no mention of Europe on the front. Unfortunately last time I heard the new passports will be largely produced in the EU. But let’s celebrate having a blue passport, so much nicer than that red one.

For my sons sake I really hope I’m wrong. I really do. But at the moment I’m clinging to the hope that this new deal is rejected. Yes in an ideal world I would like to stay in the EU. The EU is certainly not perfect but it’s a whole lot better than the current alternative. But if we do go then WE still have time to do Brexit right. Just agreeing to keep Freedom of Movement would make a huge difference. And yes in our little bubbles we can still have our Blue Passports.

The Golden Ticket

It’s amazing what you come across on a daily basis. You get good discoveries that just make you go ‘wow’. The ones you can look at for ages and get a sense of wonder.

Then you get other discoveries which make you go ‘wow’ for entirely different reasons.

Today I came across a headline in one of our so called better newspaper – The Times.

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Pupils lose out as £400m schools funding diverted to special needs

Children have been losing out because millions of pounds earmarked for their education has been siphoned off to pay for special needs education, an investigation by The Times has found.

A surge in pupils categorised as having special needs has led schools to lay off staff, increase class sizes and cut back on subjects as councils raid mainstream education budgets to fund support for them.

One headteacher said that the funding reforms introduced in 2014 created a new education, health and care plans that were seen by some parents as golden tickets”

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Don’t try to read the article as you have to pay Murdock for the pleasure. No free news here. Where do we start with this article from the Rupert Murdock stable.

  • Am I missing the point here but surely SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) kids are pupils as well. My son is a pupil surely. Not according to this newspaper. Clearly The Times would like to scrap inclusion and go back to the good old days where too many kids where denied the opportunity of mainstream education. The Times journalists have an underlying principle to most of its commentaries. Well if I don’t need that support so why should we be paying for it.
  • This article is likely to cause some parents to start resenting and blaming SEND kids for school problems. It’s pouring fuel on the fire of resentment and bullying. Basically what this article is saying is the those SEND kids are robbing Normal kids. It is deeply irresponsible and distasteful journalism.
  • The article doesn’t mention the 1500 SEND kids who are unable to find a mainstream school that will accept them. But it according to this journalist – that doesn’t matter as they are not pupils.
  • Blaming SEND kids for the £400m short fall in school budgets is lamentable. Clearly according to The Times this countries crisis in class sizes and falling teacher numbers is purely down to SEN kids. Let’s not mention that school budgets have been severely squeezed as a directly consequence of Government funding cuts. Let’s not mention that this Government introduced a new assessment system but refused to fund that change, That’s the very Government this newspaper supports whole heartedly.
  • This country has had a crisis in SEND school funding for years. It is chronically underfunded, it has always been chronically underfunded. Recently it has been subject to further Government cuts. No mention of that then.
  • A surge in pupils categorised as having special needs. It makes it sound as if suddenly parents are inventing SEND symptoms. This country has an estimated 350000 kids with a learning disability. Most experts say this is a fraction of the actual number. So many kids go through education without having a learning disability diagnosed. For too many years we have failed to address this educational crisis. This is going to get worse as a direct consequence of Government Policy as the criteria for SEND diagnosis is becoming stricter – purely to save money and not based on any health grounds. This is at the same time that funding cuts are resulting in longer wait times for an actual diagnosis to take place.
  • Finally ‘a golden ticket’. Really. In our case it’s the reverse of the article. The funding which has been awarded to our son for his learning disabilities is being used to part fund Teaching Assistant support for the whole school. The article also fails to reference that most SEND parents are already paying for additional care and educational support. This so called Golden Ticket only covers a fraction of the true cost of support.

Once again journalism gives us an insight into the deep rooted problems we have in society. The media reflects the current views of our so called Governments. It shows how far we have to go. How difficult this fight is going to be. I will leave the last word to my old Dad. He would call The Times ‘excellent toilet paper’. Thats all its good for.

Not Great anymore

Donald Trumps Wall appears to have started in Yorkshire. Here it’s probably to separate the privileged few from the many.

In my country professions like Teaching, Policing, Nursing, Clinical Specialties once we’re highly respected. This respect was reflected in pay and pensions. Unfortunately times have changed. Or should I say Government Priorities have changed. The argument was that low taxes was the new king. Low taxes on the rich and the money generators started to dictate thinking. The Government started to pick fights with various professions. A deliberate attempt was made to erode public confidence in areas like teaching, health and policing. Then the money generators messed up and we had the financial crisis. Suddenly austerity was needed. But again it was austerity for the many while protecting the few. So the Many and the Public Sector took the hit.

Government introduced competition into all areas. Suddenly contracts were awarded on best value for money. Best value rapidly became defined as the cheapest. As a result the workload on services increased. Quality levels dropped. Providers repeatedly changed. Unfortunately on top of this the pay and pensions of hard working professionals were also squeezed.

When people find their wages and pensions squeezed three things can happen

  • They buckle down for less money but their standard of living is eroded,
  • They become disillusioned,
  • They leave the job.

The Government trots out the argument about the cosy public sector life. The country will be better when everyone works in the good old private sector. Let’s not forget that our Prime Minister said of his own position

‘My Cabinet Ministers salary of £141,000 is not enough for me to live on’

When he said those wise words he was living in his rent free £20M Ministerial Mansion…. one rule for the few and a completely different rule for the rest of us.

A kid with Autism needs above all stability. Continuity in care. Trust is a commodity which takes along time to develop. But those key qualities have been destroyed by Government Policy. This year every single Teacher and Teaching Assistant changed for our Son. We have had to start again trying to build up the so important knowledge base of his particular educational needs. His Paediatric Care Provider has changed and we wait for his new clinicians. Wait is the buzz word. Appointments have gone from 4 times a year to twice a year to once a year. Not sure what the definition for a Year is. We recently received a letter saying that due to the change of provider the next appointment will be significantly delayed. He has had the same Physio for 4 years. But she quit her role. Then the next Physio left after one session. Another Physio then left before the first session. Currently we are waiting another a Physio to be appointed. He had access to a brilliant Clinical Psychologist but she retired and was never replaced. He started work with a Speech Expert but after 2 months she left the profession and the service was cut. He started a programme to work on his optical muscles but the service was cancelled with responsibility passed over to Education. Education refuses to provide that programme. I could go on…

So while our PM moans about his falling living standards the many are picking up the pieces. That’s modern Britain. It’s not Great Britain anymore. It’s certainly not great if you are not one of the Few. And it’s certainly not Great if you are a kid with Autism.

Life lessons

Important life lesson number 1 – If you ever rip your running shorts on a fence don’t try to repair them.

A few weeks ago I managed to rip asunder my running shorts when I jumped a fence. As money is a little tight I decided to repair them and I have to say I think I did a rather fine job. Several runs later they were as good as new. Until today….A couple of miles into my run this morning I experienced the dreaded unusually cold under carriage feel. Yes the shorts had completely ripped again. In effect I was running in a short miniskirt.

As I pondered my options and with perfect timing a couple of female joggers appeared in the distance. Panic. Only tactic was to try and keep the distance until I could branch off onto another path. Unfortunately the two joggers were quicker than me. The gap kept closing. All I could think about was the sight the two poor runners would be exposed to. One last option. Stop and pretend to tie my shoe laces.

Important life lesson number 2 – if your in a hole don’t dig it any deeper

Have you ever tried to tie shoe laces while keeping your buttocks as close to the ground as possible. Just a couple of seconds after I was passed by the the joggers my balance gave out and I ended up sitting backwards in a muddy puddle. So now I had to get back to the house with ruptured shorts and an embarrassing muddy patch. Then a moment of genius take off my red running jacket and tie it round the waste. Much more protection unfortunately for one area although the thin Red T-shirt left on is not really designed for Yorkshire conditions. Distinctly chilly.

Thankfully the next few paths were wonderfully deserted. Within a couple of miles of the house I opted for a prudent shortcut across the farmland. As I passed the first gate I noticed a new sign but assumed it was the usual keep your dog on a lead. As I jogged through the cow field. I noticed one particularly well built cow clearly eyeballing me. Then it dawned on me what the sign said.

Important life lesson number 3 – always look we’re your going in a cow field

Do not enter Bull in field. Hang on a minute I’m yards from a bull and I’m wearing a red T-shirt and have a red jacket around my waste. I told myself that bulls are colour blind. So I did the only rational thing and engaged numpty panic mode. Quickly I ripped off the jacket and T-shirt. Quickly hiding them behind my back. The ultimate bull protection – go topless. Then I set off walking backwards as I kept my eye on the big fella. Bad idea as I tripped over a tuft of grass and now landed in a cow pile. Bare back and Cow Stuff is not a great feel.

So yes I made it home in one piece. Clearly wearing significantly less clothing than I set off in. My buttocks and back having enjoyed a free detox and toning application. AND desperately trying not to think of how much counselling those two unfortunate joggers will end up needing.

Important life lesson number 4 – just stay in the house it’s a lot safer.

Worth it

The rain clouds finally moved on and the sun shined briefly today.

If you open your eyes it’s amazing what gifts this beautiful world of ours will bestow on you.

The news in many countries is usually grim these days. In the U.K. we find our country run by the most extreme and dangerous government this country has seen in centuries. Your either completely agree with them or you are branded a traitor. An enemy of the people. We have become a country were a PM is hailed by his supporters like a conquering roman emperor after he was found guilty of breaking the law by our highest court in the land. A country where the PM is openly stoking the fires of intolerance and hatred. Where intimidation is commonplace. Brexit has broken the country. Was it really worth it.

So parents have to bring up their children in this toxic environment. A world made toxic by the adults. As a generation we have monumentally failed. We continue to find new ways of making things worse. Our leaders play a daily game of who can be the biggest cheating lying dork. Who can bring down their democracy first. Who can burn the planet fastest.

But hope has not been vanquished. The decent law abiding amongst us greatly outnumber the deluded. The next generation have not been blinded by the madness and greed. The educational system may try to clip their wings but it’s the job of parents to keep those dreams burning bright. The young like Greta are the future. The planet is still staggeringly beautiful. Just a short walk can yield such wonders.

So tomorrow Johnson will continue to try and push our country nearer the precipice. But take a quick walk and look at what is around you. Take a good look at the faces of the young. See their dreams. That’s the important stuff. That’s what should be guiding our direction. Not the poisonous Brexit agenda – whether we should leave or remain. Regardless of what happens we are going to have to get the country working again. Bringing the artificial divisions together again. A time to marginalise the extremists, build bridges (not walls) and reclaim our wonderful planet again. The kids deserve that.

Magic Tree

And still it rains.

My phone is old but at least it’s just about waterproof.

Unlike my old battered raincoat which is anything but waterproof.

Our helpful government likes to point out to the great unwashed – there is no magic money tree. Well there is but it’s only available to the few. So like many households the number of items which are beyond their useful life is growing each day. Yet as we don’t have access to a money tree we just have to make do. Our list is not unusual.

  • Washing Machine – can’t select a cycle you get what the machine gives you. Plus it has a door which doesn’t shut properly so it needs to be kicked until it locks.
    Oven – has two settings no heat or nuclear fusion.
    Car – needs 4 new tyres which at least will triple the value of the car.
    Back Door – has so many leaks it’s been renamed WikiLeaks.
    Hairdryer – only blows cold.
    Shower – produces about as much water as the smallest water pistol.
    Dvd Player – only plays discs if they have been properly cleaned by Mary Poppins. Every disk seems to go into mad picture breakdown on the merest speck of dust.
    Boiler – was installed prior to the introduction of video recorders and home computers.
    Light switches -No lights in one room so it’s a great place to play hide and seek.
    Microwave Oven – has more rust than my first ever car (mk1 Ford Escort).
    Conservatory Door – doesn’t shut anymore unless you are called The Hulk.
    Laptop – in a permanent state of update and has as much processing power as a stick of rhubarb.
    Camera – has never been the same since it was accidentally dropped into a pan of boiling bake beans. Now everyone ends up looking like Donald Trump.
    Chimney – to narrow to safely light a fire. What were the builders thinking of. How the fiddle sticks did Santa get down that.
    Tumble Dryer – as much drying effect as one of my sneezes.
    Curtains – all shredded by cats.
    Furniture – all shredded by cats.
    House – all shredded by the cats.
    Freezer – the 3 plastic draws have disintegrated so all the food is just wedged in. When you open the door it’s an explosion of food items.
    Dish Washer – is no more, it is an ex dishwasher.

Every week the list of disrepair gets longer. But you just get on with it. Make the best of things. See the funny side to it. And above all remember that as bad as you think things are THERE are so many people out there with no home and no possessions. Which is appalling when you think of the wealth the few control. Just think what good that magic tree could do in the right hands.

Choices

Life is full of choices.

This morning it was pouring down but the forecast was for sun. What to wear on the run. I opted for full rain gear. 10 minutes into the run it’s blazing sunshine. Ended up more drenched than I would have been if I had started in just a T-shirt in the rain.

The Government could have saved Thomas Cook from going under. They decided not to. Apparently they were worried about not getting the £200m back. So 22000 people world wide have lost their jobs. Countless thousands are stranded. Holidays, honeymoons, once in a life time adventures have been ruined. Lots of hard up people are losing money on the bookings they have made.

Last night in the rain storm water came in through the back door. Do I find money to replace the old back door or find the money to replace the misfiring washing machine.

A few years back the Government didn’t win enough seats in the election. It had a choice to make. It decided to find over £1billion to bribe another party to back it so they could keep their jobs in government. Wonder when we will get that money back.

A few months ago I was faced with a decision. Keep son in school or homeschool. I opted for keeping him in school on the grounds that I couldn’t afford to home school (single working parent) and hope school will improve the support to our son. Few weeks into the term of any school support has in fact stopped. Probably a bad call.

The Government had a choice to make on Brexit. It’s decided to go for a no deal crash out. An approach which will make many in the cabinet and it’s friends significant money from hedge-fund investments. It’s also will have to spend over £6billion on Brexit planning. I wonder when we will see that money back.

So in life we all have choices to make. The big difference is that the vast majority of us may get decisions wrong but they will have been taken with the best of intentions. That doesn’t apply to Government. Ultimately they are looking after themselves….

Numpty Award

The world is increasingly been filled with Charlatans, Liars, Cheats, Self Absorbed Tossers and Unadulterated Numpties. For too long these individuals have gone unrecognised. So I’m going to rectify this by introducing our very own Numpty Award which will be fittingly named after the UK’s most esteemed PM.

The the first Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson Numpty Award goes to this man. Nick Gibb who is the UK’s School Minister.

Today good old Nick made the following comment about today’s brilliant Global Climate Strike.

“We share the passion, as a Government, of young people for tackling climate change, and that is why this Government and this country is committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gases by 2050.

But we don’t think it should be at the expense of a child’s education because what we want is for the next generation to be as well educated as possible to tackle these kinds of problems.”

So Nick shares the passion does he. This is clearly backed up by his Parliamentary voting record on addressing climate change. According to TheyWorkForYou.com on measures to prevent climate change he has “generally voted against” these. His record is 10 votes for, 17 against and 5 absences.

He seems happy with the commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That’s another 30 years of screwing the planet then.

He has voted for the reintroduction of Fox Hunting and backed the culling of badgers.

Let’s not forget that dear old Nick was the Minister who told schools that kids going through bereavement must be in school. He called kids missing school on the grounds of grief as ‘an extended holiday’.

This is a man who is convinced that increased discipline and a return to the 1950s school system is the answer to our educational problems.

This is the chap who refused to separate spelling testing from the assessments for 10 year olds even though Teachers and Dyslexia Associations objected to the fairness of the approach.

This is the man who told schools they must only to use Phonics to teach kids spelling. Another policy which appalled teachers and health professionals. Yes phonics can work for many kids but is completely the wrong approach for some kids, especially those with special needs. Nicks approached moved schools away from explaining what words mean to learning parrot fashion how to spell a set list of words.

This is the man who introduced exams for 4 year olds. FOUR YEAR OLDS. Yes the wonderful baseline testing which is largely rejected by educational professionals and parents.

And let’s not forget that the man behind so much testing for kids 4 and 10 year olds actually got one of his own English questions wrong live on radio. He then refused to answer the maths question thrown at him.

This is the guy who said exams didn’t put pressure on kids. Social media was the cause of the pressure.

So I present to you Nick Gibb the first holder of the Numpty Award. Who can deny this monumental bellend his moment of glory.

Clueless

It’s been a clueless type of day.

The company I have been doing some work for asked me if I would phone up the Brexit Helpline to ask some technical questions. Apparently because I talk tosh they thought I might be better placed to understand the helplines answers. I won’t bore you with the whole conversation but basically this was the nub of it.

Can I ask you some technical questions relating to Brexit and my company?

Please do. That’s what we are here for.

If we have staff who need to work in the EU for a short period of time what are the new regulations we must observe?

Don’t know

If we undertake work in the EU but need to employ EU based subcontractors what are the tax implications?

The current tax and excise regime will change on the 31st October. You will need to start planning for the changes now.

Yes I realise that but what will be the new regime.

It’s still being formulated

If we have web based sales to the EU what will be the export tax position?

Don’t know.

And on and on. To all my questions I received three basic replies.

  • We leave the EU on the 31st October and things will change. You will need to plan.
    The Government is still working on the details.
    Don’t know.

Anyway it proves that Brexit is a typo. It should be Breshit….

Absolutely clueless

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I spoke to school again about our son. He’s had zero additional help so far this school year. It’s actually got worse. At least last year the teaching staff got to know him and some of teachers did try to help. We even had a couple of teachers who really got to understand him and they did try to modify the programme for him. For this school year his teaching staff and teaching assistants have all changed. So we are back to square one.

In terms of support for Aspergers the school provides no support. It has established a quiet room which kids can go to. But this is a small, cramped room which is frequently used for teacher meetings and storage. Even our gerbils would be able to design a more autism friendly space than the schools attempt. The only area the School has talked about was maybe giving our son more time to change when doing sports – but this in practice has never happened. That’s it – no other help. It’s not seen as a school problem it’s something the NHS deals with.

In terms of dyslexia school argues that it provide a Teaching Assistant in each lesson to provide support. This is not dedicated support. The TA has to try and support the whole class. Our son’s class also has a profoundly dyslexic child and the TA helps this child during any reading elements of the teaching. Again school argue that our son should put his hand up and ask for help. Unfortunately the TA is frequently already occupied. More fundamentally requiring a dyslexic child to put his or her hand up and ask for help completely misses the point. Most dyslexic kids won’t put their hand up because of the stigma still associated with not been able to read. Putting your hand up is seen as flagging up that you are different. Consequently son never puts his hand up anymore. So school argues that the lack of support is down to our son not requiring it. They can’t seem to get their head round being proactive.

Absolutely clueless

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It’s Autumn so it must be time for home made soup. So the chef places the ingredients in the slow cooker and lets them stew for a few hours. Then it was time for the chef to blend the ingredients in the smoothie maker (it’s a multitasker). Unfortunately the chef forgot to put the lid on . So now the kitchen has gone from a magnolia paint feel to one more a kin to a Ghostbuster ectoplasmic theme.

Absolutely clueless

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To try and calm down after my two earlier conversations I went for a run. Within minutes my running to the beat of Mongolian Heavy Metal came to a halt as the mp3 batteries died. Still it’s a pleasant day for a run. Halfway round I stopped to tie my shoelaces while a rather inquisitive cow peered over a gate. Thirty minutes later I arrived back at the house. Where’s the MP3 player? Pants I must have put it down when I tied my shoelaces. So I had to run back to that gate. Visions of a head banging cow thinking why she had never come across Mongolian music before.

Absolutely clueless

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So whether it’s been Government Officials, Teachers, Parents, Chefs or Runners. It’s been a day for the clueless.