Can you believe it. 14 months of school at home. Just over half of that time has happened with most of his classmates back at school. Trying to maintain a remote link with his class was always going to be difficult. It can never be perfect. Especially when the Government’s attitude has been to try and force all children back into classrooms as soon as possible. Schools instructed to make it more difficult for children to work remotely. Schools and parents threatened with legal action if pupils are not back in the class. Our school wanted to offer a remote learning option. Wanted to change the school week with most pupils spending part of the school week, remote learning. Wanted to tailor education and create a better school working environment. Unfortunately that was not allowed so the remote learning option had to be largely turned off. That makes things much harder…..
Revision is supposed to start for the upcoming school year exams this week. No idea how they will work for Hawklad. But the individual subjects are now issuing revision guides. Indicating which pieces of school work have to be revisited and revised. In a couple of subjects there are no surprises – we have covered those areas, undertaken the work required. But then there are other subjects. Areas that the class have undertaken that Hawklad was not aware of. In a couple of subjects clearly large tracts of class work, entire areas have not been shared. Is it ok to call it revision when he’s visiting an area for the very first time.
It’s such a mixed bag. Yes a couple of subjects have exceeded expectations, Hawklad has done the entire teaching requirements. A couple have been kind of as expected, covered most areas but with gaps. And some subjects have gone so much worse than expected, with Hawklad being so far behind his classmates.
Surely in the modern world, with everything that technology has to offer in terms of keeping connected, surely my country should be so much better at remote learning. So much better at EDUCATION.
Another gloriously chilly day here. The perfect weather to play.
It’s official, school play time is getting shorter. A deliberate government policy. A recent report from the UCL Institute of Education confirmed that is the case in the UK. They found weekly break times had reduced since 1995 by 45 minutes for the younger children and by 65 minutes for secondary pupils. It also found a growing percentage of schools offered lunch breaks of less than 35 minutes.
Since that report was published the situation has got markedly worse.
I unfortunately listened to one of the government numpties in charge of our schools. He talked about the need to improvise discipline. Talked about children suffering during the pandemic as their grades might go down. It was apparently time to increase the school day, cut holidays. Allow the pupils to catch up with government targets.
Not once did I hear the numpty say the words health, wellbeing and happiness.
That’s no surprise. Schools are now strictly controlled. Teaching programmes, timetables, how pupils learn are set by the government. It’s all about grades. Grades in subjects that the government thinks appropriate. We here constant talk of a return to good old Victorian Values. But it goes further. As the end of school bell rings children are increasingly channeled into structured out of hours school clubs. Forced into completing hour after hour of set homework.
This eats into that precious free time. Time to socialise, to play, to free think, to dream. Time which is the child’s. Maybe that’s why child mental health issues and depression are becoming an epidemic. An epidemic without a vaccine.
Before the COVID pandemic kicked in I remember one particular school year. Hawklad has two really good friends in classes next to his. When I was at school I would get plenty of time to play each day with my friends, friends in different classes. Well that’s all change now. In that entire school year Hawklad never once spent time with his friends in school. Even at weekends organised school sport events made meet-ups problematic. The only time he met up with them was during the holidays. That’s a minimum gap of 7 weeks. 7 week blocks without seeing friends.
Remember the phrase. ‘Childhood should be your happiest time’. Is that still the case? Sadly not for too many.
So each night Hawklad tries to walk a few more yards. To extend is external walk. To slowly start to build bridges again. Last night he bailed out early as he saw people in the distance. But it is progress. It’s a start. At some stage he will be ready to even face people again. But in his own time. Whether that happens before he leaves school, who knows.
I do worry that too many countries are just thinking vaccines. No other permanent changes required. The vaccine will beat the pandemic and return us to that wonderful former world….
But surely with a mutating virus which is still spreading and still so endemic, all a vaccine does is buy us time. It gives us a chance to make changes. To find ways to live safely. To get support out to the people who need it. To increasingly try to make it harder for the virus to spread and thus mutate.
But here’s the thing. The vaccine doesn’t really help with the growing tide of mental health issues facing our society. Speaking with the team trying to support Hawklad. They are being swamped by rising child mental health problems (and the identified problems are just scratching the surface of the real volume of problems out there). Plus was the old world that perfect. Even before a pandemic there was a mental health crisis.
Society and Governments need to quickly wake up to this. There are somethings a vaccine can’t fix for them…..
Warning. In some countries the self absorbed, moronic idiots are still in charge.
Photo from The Guardian
Remember this PRAT. He is in Secretary of State for Education. Yes the idiot with a horse whip on his desk. A bloke who has been recently described by a respected former member of the Government as a ‘venomous, self seeking little s**t’.
Well the Prat has spoken again. Apparently ‘a generation of children have lacked discipline and order during the pandemic’. So he will be launching a crackdown on behaviour in schools……
Is he going to bother revealing his evidence for his claim. Or as usual is he just getting his views from the a couple of extreme right wing political lobbying groups that he follows.
It’s odd as every teacher and parent I have heard have been praising just how good school children have been, how well they have reacted to the pandemic. They have been brilliant. An unprecedented time of disruption. Schools open and closed. Exams on and off. Exam results messed up by the actions of this prat. Not being able to meet with friends. Holidays cancelled. Sports and leisure activities curtailed. Living through such awful times. AND TOO many going hungry as families struggle.
But this prat thinks they need discipline. Has he forgotten that he was sacked by the last PM when he was the Defence Secretary for leaking official secrets. He broke the Official Secrets Act, behaviour that ends up in prison for mere mortals. Clearly someone with high personal behaviour standards.
How did my country go so wrong. So wrong that someone like him ends up running our schools. Now people will vote for him, it’s currently still a free country. They might agree with him. Fine but if that is how they view our younger generation then I have the same contempt for them as I do for this prat. The children aren’t the problem, it’s the people who think the way this prat thinks who are the real problem. The children are the future, the hope, the solution to this corrupt mess.
Let’s be honest I’m not the biggest fan of school homework. Not a fan all those years ago when I suffered it as a child and certainly not now as a parent. Occasionally the homework I’ve encountered has had some learning merits. On a few rarer occasions it’s been interesting even wait for it – FUN. Sadly in the vast majority of cases it’s unremittingly dull, of little value to the child and no better than parrot learning dross. A desperate attempt to tick off parts of the government curriculum. I’ve lost count of the times Hawklad has put so much effort into a piece of homework and then gets zero feedback. Too often it’s probably not even marked.
What is the point….
Hawklad has a number of such seemingly meaningless pieces of homework to complete this week. Let’s just look at one of those. How about Religious Education. To paraphrase
Look at your last classroom assessment. Examine your answers and look at the comments. Make corrections to your answers in green pen (must be in green) so that all the teacher comments have been clearly considered. Now fully re-answer two of the assessment questions in your book ensuring all teacher comments are addressed. Homeworkmust be submitted before the start of the next lesson.
That’s RE…. I might be missing something but is that really how you teach this subject. How you teach any subject. How is that approach doing anything positive. Talk about draining the FUN and ENJOYMENT out of school. And guess what.
“Dad can I drop this subject….”.
Homework – don’t you just love it…. Well the Government does as it fits in with their schooling vision….How depressing is that.
It’s still not even midday on this stormy Monday and it already feels like it’s been a long week. Much shaking my head at the areas and topics Hawklad is having to learn. Really how will these facts and skills set him up for the future.
Then he listens to the news. It’s filled with talk of pandemics, nepotism and a country rapidly appearing to be an inwardly looking police state. Women having to protest because they don’t feel safe. A complete and utter Brexit shambles. Ongoing environmental disasters. Lots of waving the flag and saying we are better than anyone else. Look how much we can blame on immigration. Everything has a price. Profit is king. A world where the makeover of the PMs flat is more important than a pay rise for nurses. Leaders talking about bringing Victorian values back into schools.
Hawklad hears this. He talks about this.
Are we really happy that our children are being exposed to this. Being brought up in this type of world. Learning this stuff. Are we happy that the likes of these people are in charge of our child’s education.
Deciding exactly what they learn, how they learn it, where they can source there information from. What part of the economy they can be slotted in to.
Is it really about the children or is just about the economy. If it is really about the children then why don’t we ask them what they want. What interests them. What works for them. What world do they want to grow up in.
The sun almost shines down on a Monday morning. So the schools are now open again.
A real media blitz is underway telling parents just how safe things are and also reminding them of the fines that can be given out for keeping children off school. The Education Secretary is talking about change. Changes he thinks are necessary. Ways to extend the school day so children learn more. Changes to the school year drastically cutting back on school holidays. Finding ways to get pupils to keep studying during weekends and those reduced holidays. Changes he thinks are long overdue.
Strangely no mention of changes to make schools better places to learn and have fun. No mention of changes to the Government’s dogmatic national curriculum. No mention of investment in home schooling. No mention of changes to the funding cuts the Government has made to child mental health services. No mention of more input from pupils, teachers and parents in shaping a better future. The only change required is clearly to make children work longer.
But what do we expect from a politician who is supposed to be in charge or our schooling system and who makes a point of having a horse whip on the front of his desk. Photo from The Guardian
So all the schools are back this week. With some changes. A bit more of an encouragement to wear masks. All pupils to get a couple of rapid Covid tests per week. A test which gives inaccurate results in potentially 1 out of every 5 tests. But let’s not mention the giant elephant in the rather cramped classroom.
Most children and staff will be returning to classrooms in a country with rapidly emerging virus mutations without mandatory masks, in rooms likely to have really poor ventilation, with pupils definitely and staff probably without the security of a vaccination. And here’s the elephant entering the already cramped room. The PM has been doing repeated photo opportunities in classrooms. In carefully selected modern classrooms containing only a handful of children. Lots of space. But that’s not the reality for most schools. Too many are squeezed into small spaces. Nothing has been done to reduce the high classroom numbers. Not one thing. If Hawklad was returning then it would be to a class size which is between 30 to 32 pupils and 2 members of staff. In a building which is well over 50 years old.
Last night Hawklad reminded me that this Sunday last year was when we first talked isolating. I remember it quite well. A Sunday evening. I was sorting out the school bags for Monday morning. Hawklad came into the room and asked how did we know that this new virus wasn’t already in school. How did we know the bus was virus free. Should we stay off school until it passes. I tried to reassure him but I could sense his anxiety. I emailed the school to let them know that he was anxious. When he’s anxious it can throw off his ability to sit still and concentrate.
He did get to school the next day but not by school bus. He asked to be driven in. A few days later school proved too much for him and our family lockdown started. Soon the world changed.
It’s odd looking back. Its hard to believe that we have been isolating for nearly a year now. I wouldn’t have dreamed that I could have coped with that much isolation fit that long. A world suddenly constricted to our garden and house.
It’s horrid weather today so let’s go back a few weeks. That’s better.
I heard someone from the Government brush off a parent talking about her daughters genuine fears and phobias about returning to school. Her daughter doesn’t think her classroom and school is safe enough. From the sound of it her daughter is in a similar place to Hawklad. Really struggling. The interviewer cut off the parent saying that she was in the minority and the vast majority would see things much more positively. The message from the Government followed instantly. People and kids who had concerns and fears needed to listen to the majority. Schools are completely safe, just get on with it. Parents have an obligation to send their children into schools when they open.
Meanwhile back here the NHS Psychologist is just at the early stages of a treatment programme to try and help with Hawklad’s deep seated anxieties. No guarantee that the programme will ever work. This week’s task is for Hawklad to try and stand in the front garden for 1 minute. The message is don’t worry if you can’t do that. Even a few seconds will be a massive leap of faith. And if he can’t do it at all then we can try another week. Pushing people with significant fears and ingrained anxieties can do so much harm to their long term mental health.
The Government and the ‘Majority’ are not trained mental health practitioners. They have absolutely no idea what some people are going through. On this issue they can stand out in the rain and whistle for all I care.