Cut the grass

I know it’s all gone but the field looks better for it….So let’s go back to just before the thaw.

I was sat in my car. It hadn’t moved in weeks so I thought I had better run the engine for a bit. Reverse it a few times up and down the our little drive. Make sure the brakes haven’t seized up. If I was sat for weeks my knees would definitely have stopped working. I was looking at the three peddles and scratching my head. I had forgotten which one was the clutch. After a few test presses I sussed them out again. Clearly driving doesn’t come naturally to me.

That’s probably very like parenting with me as well. I’m probably better at being the kid than the one apparently in charge.

Then a worrying thought. What if I’m getting this parenting lark completely wrong. What if I’m making things worse for a Hawklad. Who knows. I’ve never been assessed. It was easy when there was two parents. Someone would tell me if I was wrong. A quietly whispered ‘tell you what why don’t you go and cut the grass and I will do that’. But then that abruptly stopped in 2016. This summer it will be 5 years of me parenting solo. No checks. No assistance. No manual. Doing this all by myself. Over those years there were many times I would have definitely told myself to go outside and cut the grass.

What if I’ve got this wrong….

Would my partner have done it differently. Probably. We often politely disagreed. Even down to how to change a nappy. She wanted him to go to a different school. Was she right? She had a different view on the approach that should be taken with his Aspergers and Dyslexia. Have I been too laid back on the implementation of his Education and Health Care Plan. Have I done all I could for him. Have I missed something which would help him with his fears and phobias.

I guess the answer is that I will never know. All I can do is my best. Hope I get most things kinda right. Hope I don’t drop too many balls along the way. Maybe even find the time to cut the grass.

First signs

Look towards the base of any wall and there are the first signs of better weather. Spring is not too far off now. Not too far off even in Yorkshire.

Let’s hope it’s a sign of better times for all.

It’s amazing what an a mobile phone camera can do. Coping with really dark and grizzly early morning weather. Almost looks light. Wonder if it could do anything transforming this muppet into something more approaching George Clooney.

Suspect not…

Wonder if George would have sworn in a broad Yorkshire accent when he looked at the latest school email. Soon we can book a slot for the 4 minute online teaching – parent discussions. 3 full email pages and 4 attachments to explain how to book slots and what can and can’t happen in those slots. It took me far longer than 4 minutes to to wade through that lot.

The fundamental problem with the option selection process is the teacher – pupil relationship. Some of the teachers do seem to understand that additional support system be needed for Hawklad. Sone even try to provide that support. But others don’t seem to get it. Maybe it’s down to time pressures, maybe it’s down to not having the chance to develop a relationship with Hawklad, maybe they don’t care. Like everything in like, just like with say parents, with teachers – you get good ones, you get ok ones and you get not so good ones. You get teachers who will get a child and you get teachers who won’t get a child.

That link is vital to any pupil. It’s vital to a pupil with Aspergers, Dyslexia and ADHD. School can’t confirm which teacher and which teaching assistant will cover each class over the upcoming two years. Pick an option and then it depends on which teaching team you are eventually allocated. 4 minutes isn’t enough to bottom that discussion out.

Not much you can do in 4 minutes. Well it’s long enough to walk to some walls and see the first signs of Spring.

Visibility

It was a dreadful few hours weather wise. Just so cold and wet. Really grey. Well this is Yorkshire. Really poor visibility.

Next week it’s a big schooling week. Hawklad has to pick his subject options for the final two years of secondary school. He has to do Mathematics, English and Science. But then he has to pick 4 further subject options. Two of those are really easy. History and Geography are definite selections. I think he would spend all his time on just those two if he could. But what about the other two?

Now here the problems start.

First off – will he actually return to mainstream classroom teaching? I’m not betting that he will.

Then

Our pandemic lockdown has resulted in basically zero direct teacher input on Hawklad. Apart from the occasional test result, the teachers have no grasp on things like his current state of writing and reading. What help and support he needs. What he needs for the exams. They haven’t seen him directly work since February last year. A lot will have changed in that time. Equally we have little idea what the teachers actually think of Hawklad’s position. One page summary reports issued three times a year basically tell you nowt.

So we are selecting options feeling like we are doing this in the blind. Because of the pandemic we haven’t had an Education and Health Care Plan Review meeting since May 2019. In that time virtually everyone one of the multi disciplinary team has left…. These are big decisions being made with so little visibility. The school are offering video chats with teachers but these are strictly limited to 4 minute per child. That’s 4 minutes to discuss performance, concerns, issues AND future options. It just feels a mess. It’s a mess for teachers, for parents and most importantly for the children. It’s another area that the Pandemic has found a way of undermining. No point looking for help from the Government, the PM can’t even manage to comb his hair never mind support real people. So like most things these strange times it feels like we are winging it. Winging it with so little visibility.

4 minutes

Grim afternoon in Yorkshire.

So the schools will largely remain shut until at least the 8th March. Key worker parents can still send their kids into the classrooms. So it’s another 6 weeks of the full school online system. That means more structured lessons and class work. Hawklad has definitely noticed a difference. No being forgotten about. Actually getting some marks back and a few comments. That helps.

Hawklad hasn’t been in a classroom since the start of March. Apart from a few brief emails he has had no direct conversations with his teachers in that time. In fact those emails are often not from the teacher but the class teaching assistants. Without feedback he just can’t gauge progress and teachers can’t assess any learning issues.

It’s no better from a parenting point of view. The last face to face meeting with teachers was back in 2019. The school reports are issued at the end of each term. A one page sheet comprising of scores for behaviour, attendance and expected final attainment. No narrative from teachers. I’ve tried sending direct emails to teachers but with little real impact. So do the teachers have a grip on Hawklads learning needs. Do they really know what’s going well and whats not going well. That really matters.

I guess I must not be the only parent asking for a chance to directly speak to some of the teachers. School is now going to run an online parents evening. You can book a slot with a teacher. One problem. Each video call will be time limited to 4 minutes. After 4 minutes the call will automatically end. That’s not much time at all. Especially as it’s almost time to pick which subjects Hawklad will study for the final two years. Yep that’s a lot to discuss in just 4 minutes. Anybody who knows me will understand that it takes me about 4 minutes to just say ‘Hello my name is Kermit the Frog’.

Them

The sun continues to shine down on the school at home project. Sun shining down – is that the right phrase. Maybe not.

Those lines may not be grammatically correct.

Maybe the sun would shine if the teachers, parents and children could be left to get on with the process. Unfortunately we are not trusted. The current so called government needs to be in control. Apparently they know best.

So maybe this is a more apt photo.

The government wants to control what subjects are taught, what material is used and what material can’t be used. But it doesn’t stop there. They try to control how lessons are taught. Dictating the methods used by teachers.

That has become even more clear during these last 10 months.

Free thinking is to be avoided. Teaching must be prescriptive and follow the required process. Children must learn the same steps in the same way. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work for the child, at least they will remember the basics. It’s more important that they learn to spell a prescribed set range of words perfectly rather than acquire a wide vocabulary. It’s more important to learn the set rules of grammar than to develop a love of writing. Mechanism over creativity.

From the age of 5 to 12 Hawklad went through the education production line. The net result was that he couldn’t read. Teacher reports listing him as low attainment and unable to keep up with the curriculum. Ten months of working from home and now his reading is progressing so well. Ok he might struggle with many of the set grammar rules. He will get marked down for that. But he has found his own way of reading. A method that works which goes against the set governments reading method. That’s something teachers are not allowed to try.

The education of our children is too important to be left in the hands of self absorbed pillocks like Williamson and Gibbs. It’s time for a schooling revolution. It’s time to let teachers teach and to let our children really learn. Learn the way that best suits THEM.

Learning time

Could look at this view for ages. It makes life feel so uncomplicated.

It’s been one of those school at home days. The sort of day that reminds me what I’m missing with caffeine (lots of it). The stronger the better.

The third cup of decaf just doesn’t hit the same mark…..

Before summer school basically used Showbie to run its lockdown home schooling system. Teachers delivered lessons via recorded videos, documents and resources available on the web. It was simple and largely worked.

School has now implemented Microsoft Teams and that is being used to deliver the current lockdown home schooling.

Now cards on the table, I have a masters degree in computing. So I’m ok with tech. Excluding the remote control, washing machine and my mobile. Hawklad sorts those out for me…. But Microsoft I can do…..

How can I describe the new Teams learning experience.

OMG 🤯

Really 🙀

##@@##%££🤬

For us its shocking. Talk about school over complicating things. Poor Hawklad has lost the plot. I’m not far behind. And reading many of the pupil comments (and a few teachers) – we are not the only ones.

Today Hawklad must have spent 20 minutes on actual learning. The other 5 hours has been spent dealing with app crashes, lockouts, never ending formatting issues, searching for stuff, trying to find ways to open audio and video files on the school iPad.

Much of this will be down to how school have set up the system. Yes Teams can do so much more and it helps the school with administration. But it’s been at a cost. It’s proving much harder for some of the pupils to learn. Hawklad just doesn’t find it easy using Microsoft apps. They seem to be designed in a way that just doesn’t suit the way his mind operates. Even some of the teachers will start a lesson off on Teams and within minutes switch back to Showbie. PLUS. My decaf budget is going through the roof….

But when your parenting day is not going well the last thing you want to hear is ‘live teaching’ or ‘real time classroom video experience’. Our day is finishing with that beauty. I just can’t wait and there will no doubt be another frustrated post winging your way….

Rollercoaster

The next bit of bad weather is blowing in. Yes that lake has sneaked in again…. Admit you will miss it when it’s gone.

The online schooling system is kicking back into life. Will it bring more support for Hawklad? Well if it’s like the last lockdown then it will certainly become a lot more structured. The day will follow the school timetable. The pupils need to sign in at the start of the lesson and work through the online tasks. A teacher ot teaching assistant is online to help and monitor work. Pupils then have until 7pm to complete all tasks and submit them. Failure to do so gets an automatic negative.

So on the bright side the chances of Hawklad being missed are reduced. But then the downsides. Increased timetable pressures. Often it feels more like monitoring than support. Lots of checks of work being submitted on time but often no feedback after that. Oh those pesky interactive video sessions. He hates them. I’m not far behind him on that. It just doesn’t suit him.

On top of that the one teacher who seemed to understand this has now left. Will someone else step up to the plate?

So here goes then. The rollercoaster is back in operation.

A plan

Walking towards the light. That sounds like a plan…..

So we kind of know what’s happening with school over the next few weeks. Well sort of.

School will be shut on Monday. Then this week pupils will be at home working through tasks that have been set for the week. Only minimal teaching support will be available as teachers will be trying to help volunteers in ensuring every child is self tested for covid. That’s just a one off test.

The week after some pupils will be back in the classroom. For Hawklads year they will be working from home. The full online teaching system will be switched on for the week. Teachers will do the full lesson programme fully online.

The week after all pupils will return to the classroom and the online teaching system will be switched off.

For Hawklad what does that mean. Well for a start he is not going back in January. So he would be home come what May. For the first week of term he is likely to get more work as all his classmates will be at home. The second week will see Hawklad get his first lessons since July as the online teaching system will be live. After that we go back to how we were before Christmas. Kind of just winging it. Maybe worse as the one member of staff who really tried to help has now left.

Why do I get a sinking feeling…

No surprise

Most definitely a nice change today….

So the end of term school report has arrived. When I say arrived I mean an email appeared informing me that the report was available online. After 3 hours of trying to get the app to work finally a unique set of parameters opened up the report. Fifth cup of decaf, third chocolate bar, complete packet of biscuits, the clock striking midnight and me threatening to hurl the laptop out of the window. All this worked.

So is the report a surprise! Sadly not. It’s as expected.

  • Just grades, target grades, performance and behaviour grades. A mass of numbers and seemingly random letters. Absolutely no narrative from the teachers.
  • No information on areas of weakness or plans of action.
  • No test scores. No work feedback.

Almost feels like one of those automated factory production cards. Cold, faceless, uncaring. So what do the numbers and letters tell me. Hawklad is still seen as low attainment. The work I’ve seen in a number of subjects not reflected in the expected final exam grades (another 2 and a bit years time). A subject where his last teacher told me that he knows the subject better than the teachers is marked as just about squeaking a pass. Another subject in which he regularly gets 100% on the online teaching app tests is listed as an expected subject fail. A handful of subjects listed as expected passes (most just the lowest pass grades). Bizarrely one of which is a subject the school want him to drop as they are not prepared to provide any additional help. No mention of why some of his expected grades are falling. No mention of what action is needed to reverse that.

No surprise at all really. For children like our son the approach is to set the bar low. No need to invest in potential then. Then any results at the end are seen as a real bonus. Evidence that the education system is clearly working 🤯. What that really means is too many are left to stagnate. Too many are let down by the system.

So yep no surprise at all.

After three

Today brought the return of awful weather. Cold, stormy winds, driving rain, really dark skies. Days like this are not great for living on a hill top….

School, school, school.

It’s just keeps on giving…..

I had an email exchange with school trying to explain to them that at this stage Hawklad doesn’t want to drop French. He does want to try some alternatives first. Spending part of the teaching time using an online language package which teaches him the basics. The stuff school seem to have stopped. With school its all about learning the various spellings for the various forms of all the French verbs. That’s not really helping. It’s never going to work with someone with dyslexia.

Anyway I was getting nowhere fast with our award winning school. Yes it won an award for excellence. When they dropped into the conversation some news.

The one teaching assistant who has done the most to help Hawklad. The one who asks if he is alright (the only one). The one who is happy to chase up work and queries for him. The one who chases up the other teachers when they forget about him. Is leaving in two days…

PANTS….

I dread to think what that will mean for Hawklads homeschooling. I do have a pretty good idea.

So let’s look out of the window and think about the weather and say again after three.

PANTS….