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.

Terrible Poetry

It’s that time again for hopefully some downright cheesy terrible Poetry thanks to Chelsea Owens. This week she has set the following challenge.

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Here are the specifics for this week:

  1. The Topic is free-versing about secondhand sales. Ever been to a yard sale? Garage sale? Flea market? Write about it; flow about it.
  2. Looking for a certain Length? Let’s go with fewer than 150 words. Final offer.
  3. Rhyming is not allowed. This is free verse poetry, people. Curb your instincts.
  4. Above all, make it terrible. e.e. cummings must feel such a shock from your literary efforts that he vows to capitalize his name just to make you stop.
  5. Let’s keep the rating PG or cleaner. What sort of flea market are you going to, anyway?

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (September 20) to submit a poem the good ladies blog.

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I got carried away and the first version was an epic unfortunately way beyond 150 words so this is the heavily butchered version 2.

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Wandering round the stalls and jammed full car boots

Sellers imploring you to hand over your hard earned loot

In one car boot an autobiography from Donald Trump

Read that, no way rather have a session with a stomach pump

Then a special offer on CDs from U2 and Bono

Give you money for that, you got more chance of seeing a flying Dodo

Then a car boot with a portrait of a politician, Jacob Rees Mogg

I’d rather have my leg humped by a rabid flee ridden Rottweiler Dog

Some numpty called Farage is selling knocked off cheap French red wine

He bought the bottles with loose change from his European Pension goldmine

Then finally a chance to buy the actual Boris Johnson our countries so called leader

I bought him for 10p he’s now planted pretending to be a Japanese ornamental Cedar.

Brexit and Christmas

The parliamentary term is less than 3 days old and already the world has discovered what whose of us who have worked with Boris Johnson have always known: he is cowardly, weak, vindictive and without morals. Behold your Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen.

Going well for our so called Prime Minister – those are the words from an MP from his own party….

Now putting my cards on the table I voted against Brexit and still think it’s a bad idea which runs the risk of making things much worse for the weakest in our country. The only real winners will be the the millionaire hedge fund investors who helped fund the leave campaign. But if we are having Brexit then we need to do it properly and make the very best of it for all of our communities.

I had an appointment with the Dentist today. The Dentist said that I needed some treatment but she was full until October. But the work would be completed before the end of October just in case they start to struggle getting dental supplies due to Brexit.

One of my university friends is a civil servant who works within one of the Government Departments. He was saying that they are working on the basis of significant risks of fuel shortages, fresh food supply disruption, medical rationing, veterinary drug shortages within a month of Brexit. He reassuringly described the current Government approach as swinging between headless chickens and an ostrich burying its head in the sand. The current thinking seems to be if we are lucky it will be fine but there is more of a chance that it will be somewhere between bad and appalling but we can blame Europe for that.

So better keep all those fingers crossed then.

Another friend of mine works in the car production sector. His plant works on a Just in Time basis so needs a constant supply of parts. He was saying that the supply is likely to be severely disrupted as soon as Brexit starts. Apparently the Government has only just realised this and has added this to its risk plans – with just weeks to go. I remember hearing a Minister sound surprised that companies might be so dependent on the free movement of goods.

So this week our Prime Minister closed down parliament with the excuse that he wanted to develop some really radical policies. Maybe he should put down his fine claret glass and concentrate on a few other matters first. If it has to be a no deal Brexit why not give yourself some more time to do it properly rather than winging it.

The other week we went for a walk. Too engrossed in a chat about Monty Python we missed out path and ended up on the wrong side of the forest so we couldn’t get back to our village. The Forest was too dense to just walk through it. So we had two options. Walk the 20 minutes back down the path or take the only short cut through the forest. Only problem is that the short cut is a deep beck with unknown underfoot conditions either side (due to thick undergrowth). Yes we could wing it and rely on good fortune but in life that doesn’t often work out well. So we walked back down the path and 40 minutes later we were back home. Safe and dry. Yes the unplanned shortcut might have worked but it wasn’t worth the risk.

My old pop had a saying. Nowt worse than doin a job half cocked.

Dad I’ve started the planning process for Christmas.

Last year I put out son in charge of Christmas. What we do, what we eat, where we go, what decorations to have and when to do it. It was our my attempt to deal with the fallout from son hearing that chat about Santa. Him planning everything worked out quite well last year. The feeling of control alienated a lot of the Santa let down.

I’ve set myself until the end of September to have the Christmas timetable mapped out then I can sort out the details.

His first call looks like it is to move the traditional Christmas lunch to Boxing Day. Christmas Day lunch will now be pizza based – more time for fun less work. The traditional trip to the zoo on New Years Day will happen again. This year he wants some external lights on the house but wants to think about the environmental impact. He wants a couple of additional day visits. He’s deciding between Edinburgh, Northumberland, Lake District and Stonehenge.

The interesting point is that son is giving himself twice the length of planning time for Christmas than the PM is giving the country for his no deal Brexit. I know which one is going to be better organised.

Live

Yesterday was suitably grim but another day dawns and we move on. Life needs to be lived. As son puts it

Even you Dad are allowed to have some fun.

I’ve scheduled that in my diary for an afternoon in March 2024. The same can’t be said of our dog. His diary is overbooked with the joys of life. We could all learn from that approach.

Not sure his cuddly toy cat is enjoying life so much at this precise moment. It’s a sign of affection – honest.

A public service announcement has started on the radio which comes from our so called Government. It is telling people and businesses to prepare for Brexit on the 31st October. That’s a laugh as our Monty Python Gumby Leaders couldn’t even prepare a cup of tea. I suspect prepare means stockpile water, food and medicines. Our dog has started stockpiling toys.

So faced with a mountain of work, a misfiring laptop and more helpful advice from the Government I did the only sensible thing. Go for a run. Yes I know I’m not supposed to run for another few months but bugger it. A few minutes later I’m running over the autumnal fields. Coming in the other direction was a group of ramblers. Must have been about 20 of them. I wasn’t planning on saying hello to each one of them so I opted for one shouted hello. Unfortunately at the very moment I slipped and shouted s**t. After that faux pas I ended up saying sorry and hello twenty times.

A bit later I came to a fence. Do I climb it or do I be a pillock and jump it. Mr Pillock it is then. Amazingly the body cleared the fence unfortunately the shorts didn’t. Ripped asunder. Suddenly the run became very air conditioned. Better head back down the back lane – bound to be empty. Can you imagine how thrilled I was to reintroduce myself to the party of 20 ramblers coming in the other direction. It was chilly so they wouldn’t have seen much. Wouldn’t have seen much at the best of times really. Anyway I ran past them with a running gait best described as a duck waddle.

So life continues. We move on. Somedays we will be sad but we owe it to those not here to live.

School inspection

Ok troops stand by your bed at 6am for a kit and bed inspection from the Sergeant Major. If you fail you will do 100 press-ups and your on peeling spud duty for a week. Dad had those when he was in the army. He’s one of the troops in the photo above – enjoying the winter weather in Iceland. Apparently inspections are good for discipline and builds character….

Dad can you help me with my school bag and kit. I’m really worried I don’t have the right stuff.

Don’t worry son I filled your bag up with school supplies last week.

Do I have a 4b pencil.

Not sure but you have pencils.

If you don’t have a 4b pencil you get a negative.

Son it will be ok you have pencils.

No Dad you get a negative for not having the right pencil. Do we have colouring pencils covering all of the colours of the rainbow.

You have a load of pencils in the Peppa Pig pencil case. (I really must change that). It’s at the bottom of your school bag. It has lots of different colours.

No you need to ensure you have all the colours covered or it’s another negative.

It will be ok Son you do have enough coloured pencils for art and the teachers won’t know anyway.

Dad on Thursday the Form Tutor is doing a full school bag inspection. He’s going to check that we have every item on the school list. Every time he finds a mistake he will give you a negative.

******My jaw hits the flaw and I am stunned. It was later confirmed that school bag inspections are taking place with punishments for breaches of rules. I am speechless.*******

So after 30 minutes work we managed to rustled up a kit list that would hopefully pass the Drill Sergeant role call.

Dad we will need to move the coloured pencils to the main pencil case as the tutor has said that he will only check one case. And all the essential items have to be in there.

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Maybe it’s just me but I find this completely staggering. I’ve got a kid with Aspergers seriously spooked over the type of pencil he has in his school bag. How can that be right. Whatever happened to the idea of building a warm and welcoming learning environment. I thought the days of negative reinforcement had been assigned to the bin. A few months ago we went to a zoo where the keeper in charge of the Sea Lions talked about how an approach based on punishments never works. The animals will only respond to positive reinforcement. So an approach not ok for Sea Lions is perfectly acceptable for our children.

Why can’t school turn this round and award house points for the neatest bag. Or give every kid with the full school kit a flapjack. School could have prizes for the sharpest pencil tip, the funniest sharpener and the most original pencil case design.

To be fair to school they are following an approach favoured by our so called government. But I’m sorry the approach is fundamentally wrong. If I could sort the finances out he would be pulled from school immediately and taught at home. School and more importantly the so called government have a duty of care to kids which they are failing. This years battle with school is going to get very messy indeed.

Call from school

At lunchtime the phone rang. Oh pants it school. What’s happened now? Bizarrely at the other end was a very official sounding Son

Who am I speaking to”

Son, it’s me.

Can you confirm that I am speaking to Mr XXXX XXXXXXXX”

Yes son, it’s me.

Can you confirm that that is you.”

Yes this is your useless Dad.

I am going to ask you a question to confirm this. What did I have for breakfast”

Son you would be brilliant working in a call centre. You had 2 slices of toast, a waffle, raspberries and blueberries. Washed down with an orange juice.

What colour plate did I use”

White and blue. (In the background I could hear the school teacher saying – come on lad it’s your dad)

What colour cup”

Red

Ok Dad the whole school has to spend an extra hour in school tonight to help set up the classes. Unbelievable. I am going to speak to my lawyer about this outrage. Bus will be late. Goodbye”

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The battle recommences.

So the hope of a new schooling approach didn’t last very long. Basically 6 hours. Son’s been kept down in the bottom set while a number of other kids got moved up. Some of the kids went up in all subjects, others went up in one or two subjects. No explanation from school just the Form Tutor handing out paper timetables with the sets on. His last Form Tutor (who has unfortunately left) confirmed his test and class performance merited moving up sets – at the very least in his three best subjects. We have kids with lower grades in higher sets than our son. Sadly the assumption has to be that he’s been kept down due to his dyslexia. The galling thing is that in today’s bottom set lessons he received again absolutely no help with his reading. So he’s marked down for dyslexia but then doesn’t receive any assistance. Setup to fail.

If that wasn’t enough his new Form Tutor and most of his new subject teachers appear to be the strictest in the school. So much for making learning fun. Plus the teachers he really connected with have either left or have been removed from his teaching programme.

If we are looking for an upside the best it gets is

Well Dad at least I didn’t get a negative on the first day”

Nothing like positive reinforcement to encourage a bit of educational development….

Deep sigh.

Across all the lands how many other kids are being subjected to this crap. Too many. I heard a news item about another school where a 11 year old girl who had been excluded from class because her trousers did not quite cover her ankles.

Really.

After all these years how can we still get education so very wrong. Probably the same reason that with all the gifted and genuinely dedicated people we have in this country we end up being led by someone as awful as Boris Johnson.

School

So it’s about to start again. SCHOOL. The anxieties are building. The sleepless nights. The upset stomach. The worries. And that’s just me.

For our son it’s worse. Far worse. He is already stressed out. Anxious about the return to that alien world. An institution which could not have been designed in a more anti-autistic way if they had honestly tried. A system which is designed for kids with dyslexia to automatically fail. An underfunded service which is not fit for purpose.

So he will get on the bus at 8am tomorrow with hope. Hope that school has changed. It now positively promotes uniqueness and individuality. Kids with specific learning obstacles are giving tailored support to help them fly. In fact all kids are given a tailored education not just the privileged few. The 1950s school infrastructure has been replaced with modern, bright and welcoming learning facilities. The strict rule structure has been relaxed. Kids are allowed to be kids for at least part of the day. Good dedicated professionals are supported and properly rewarded.

But in reality we understand what our son will face again tomorrow. A broken system where the bonkers government sees stricter rules for kids as the answer to everything. Stricter rules for kids and teachers yet wants less rules for those trying to make a profit out of our kids education. Yes an education but not the one we want for our kids.

The summer holidays were great but the fight for many parents starts again.

Presence

Somedays I can feel your presence all around me. When I can feel you it makes the world just a bit less scary. Then you get days when your not there. As hard as I look you are simply just not there. That beautiful sunset just could not warm my heart today. Too much emptiness. When I can’t feel you maybe it’s a message that I need to take more ownership of my life. Maybe I’m just not looking hard enough. Probably too busy trying to get my head round parenting.

Over the last 3 years (is it really 3 years) I have frequently revisited one of the first single parent decisions I had to make. One with no right answer but equally one I probably got badly wrong.

How long to keep our son off school immediately after his mum left us.

In 2015 our caring Education Minister said

The rules say you can’t take leave from school during term time except in exceptional circumstances. If it’s something like a funeral or something, then the head teacher would be able to give permission to attend the funeral, but not to have an extended holiday on the back of that funeral or other compassionate circumstances.

AN EXTENDED HOLIDAY….. what planet is this heartless Pillock from. Guess what – he is still in his job. Sums up why our country has fallen apart. The best approach is to ignore the Government as it’s filled with self centred over promoted numpties like him.

To be fair to the school they completely ignored Government recommendations and just said ” let us know when you want him to return – Completely up to you. “

My partner died on a Saturday night so on Sunday I’m faced with a call – what to do with school. I was barely functioning. I agreed with son to play it on a daily basis. My mind was thinking at least a couple of weeks off. But we came to Tuesday night and for some reason my mind shifted.

Maybe it’s better to get him back into the swing of life earlier than I had initially imagined. Maybe it will distract him. It will certainly get him out of a house which feels like a morgue. Might be easier this way in the long run.

My heart was saying one thing my head something different. My head won. The decision was made to give school a go on Thursday. That’s just over 4 days since he lost his mum. AND he’s only 9. Looking back I am not sure what I was thinking. I phoned a couple of his classmates mums up and we agreed to meet up at the local playground after school on Wednesday. Maybe just meeting a few of his friends initially would help. Great plan unfortunately within a few minutes most of the other school kids turned up as it was a nice day. Not really the quiet reintroduction I was hoping for. Too many faces so it didn’t go well.

He still returned to school the next day. That walk from the school car park was a nightmare. It seemed like every eye was on him. But he survived and then the only other day he had off was for the funeral. He was just about ok at school. I’m now think more time off would have allowed him to better process the new world. But we will never know. The kids his age were great with him. Some of the younger kids understandably not so tactful. Understandably some tears were shed. The common young questions being

What’s it like to not have a mum

How did she die

Will you have to move

I keep going back to that decision. I had him facing those questions far too soon. I am sure I got it so wrong but I can’t decide on what the decision should have been. More days off yes but not sure how many. My fear is that I was just as heartless as that Government Minister. In my defence if it was wrong then at least it was unintentional. But I did learn two important lessons. Firstly there is no rule book for parenting with nice clean set answers. It’s really just about a series of best guesses. The second is that on big split decisions – go with the heart. Even if it goes wrong at least you will feel better about yourself in the long run.

Burns

It’s hot. That’s Yorkshire hot. Which probably means mild in other parts of the world. My Dad would have called it mafting. It’s that mafting that even the Yorkshire Farm Machinery can’t cope. The photo shows the smouldering wreck of an unfortunate tractor with a badly burnt field. That’s a first on the dog walk.

Our Son does suffer from stress and overpowering fears. When he took one look at the burnt carnage he immediately panicked that our house would soon be engulfed in flames. It’s understandable as the field is less than a mile from us. I tried to calm his fears with words but with no luck. So actions are required. A mad Dad sat down in the blackened field. Look son my bum is getting a little warm but my shorts are not ablaze. Although it did demonstrate a point I should have thought the plan through a bit. Light grey shorts are maybe not that fetching when they have two buttock shaped black marks on the rear.

Although our son’s wild fire fear has been dampened down a little. Sometimes silliness works better than rational argument. It is still there and will be until normal Yorkshire weather returns.

When you have a child who suffers from these inhibiting fears it is vital that you try and keep on top of them. Working in partnership with school and health services is vital. At his last school they were usually on the ball. The teacher would catch me at the end of day or send a quick email to let me know if something had happened. If it was particularly significant school would phone immediately.

Unfortunately at his new school this has completely stopped. I fully understand that it’s a much bigger school and he has different teachers for each subject. But surely they still have a duty of care. I know speaking with the health professionals they say unfortunately most schools in they area are the same now. The close partnership working which was in place a few years ago has dried up. Again and again it comes back to the same reason. Government. As one Doctor said

Under the last Labour Government it was about the patient. Now the patient is a secondary consideration to income generation, competition and profit. Money is now king.

So increasingly it’s just left to parents, families and friends. The days of government for the greater good are over. Its all about self help and what the individual can afford. Must deliver tax cuts. It’s back to Victorian ethics. Days when democracy could be overridden by the powerful and the rich. A time when it was ok to send poor kids up chimneys. When hatred and discrimination was the norm.

Maybe it’s just me and I’m in the minority. Just my irrational fear. But increasingly my country is becoming alien to me. I hate what is becoming. Too many kids do not get the support they badly need. As a generation we have really messed up our priorities. Our leaders happily play fiddles while Rome burns. Or maybe we should now change that to our leaders go to comedy clubs while the Amazon burns.