No one ever asks

It’s been a little wet over the last few days. The sheep have got themselves a couple of paddling pools. We might give those a miss. I guess no one will be to upset about that.

I have a questionnaire to fill out about school and it’s services. Looking at lots of areas.

Teaching quality, subject material, classroom facilities, school meals, communication, discipline, bullying, uniform, school transport, sports facilities, IT, websites, outside clubs…..

Lots and lots of areas. So many questions.

What’s revealing is not the questions being asked but those which are not asked. Ones which are never asked. Questions about Autism and Aspergers support. Dyslexia support. Learning Disability support.

No one ever asks. It’s not just our school. It’s across the board. No one ever asks. We live in a world driven by performance measures and league tables. Yet no one ever asks….

I wonder why that is.

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….

Help

This is my favourite place to put my hot drink mug. Just the right size. Nice height. Views over the farmers fields. It was kind of the people who built the house to put this here all those years ago.

Sometimes you just have to do things yourself.

I remember having a conversation with a leading clinical psychologist just before she retired. She told me about the UK Health Service and its approach to kids like Hawklad. She was so disheartened. Increasingly parents have to fight for any support. The Government (this government) are intentionally making it more difficult to access public services and receive support. The view from the top is that it’s not the responsibility of tax payers to fund these things. It’s down to the individual. The more you can afford the better the service you can secure. The psychologist warned me that as soon as Hawklad became a teenager the services which have been secured will start to ebb away. Reviews by ‘independent’ managers will suddenly find him just above the support threshold and he will be removed from the support list. When he gets to adult life she said the support would be completely gone.

Hawklad turned 13 this year so where do we stand…..

  • He hasn’t seen a Paediatrician in two years (was supposed to be every 6 months). He has dropped down the priority list and is at the wrong end of the waiting list.
  • Zero help from school on his dyslexia. The NHS is prevented from providing any support as it has to come from Education budgets now.
  • Zero help with his Aspergers. The psychologist was not replaced when she retired and the service is on hold (4 years now).
  • Zero help with his ADHD as he was reassessed as being above threshold.
  • He did receive physio therapy help with his dyspraxia. He was due to start a programme to help with his writing and keyboard difficulties. But two weeks before the programme was due he was seen by an Independent assessor (never worked with Hawklad before). After 3 quick tests which lasted 4 minutes he was assessed as being above threshold and the service was withdrawn.
  • Grief Counselling still officially waiting…
  • The last support he has is an anxiety counselling service. But sine his last wonderful support worker was moved on, the service has started to dwindle away. No idea when the next support session will happen. He’s unable to venture out of his house ot touch objects due to his anxieties BUT as he is not in physical danger then he is classed as a low priority.

Sometimes predictions come true.

Sometimes you have to do things yourself .

Something needs to change

I was talking to a colleague about the lack of work currently. The company will probably survive but it’s going to be many months before things start to slowly pick up. Is it just me but currently Im not missing it. Yes the bank balance is only going in one direction but as for worknot really in the mood for it.

Anyway this chap has a son on the spectrum. He’s a lovely, really bright boy. A couple of years older than Hawklad. It’s a depressingly familiar school story. Hardly any support. It’s all down to him to put his hand up in class and ask for help. Nothing proactive. The teaching is not suiting him. He’s going backwards. His potential grades are falling and it’s not ringing any alarm bells. It’s because he is Special Needs. The bar is set low so that there is no need to work on potential. Anything is seen as a bonus. What a waste.

Too many wonderful kids get let down like this. How can we have got education so badly wrong here. Something needs to change.

Curve ball

Definite curve ball from school today.

I have wrote about the problems Hawklad has been having with French classes at school. The way the subject is taught just don’t suit him. Dyslexia complicates the learning process. Being at home adds to the difficulties.

I have been trying to get the school to modify the teaching approach in this one subject. Even switch the language to one which better suits him and one he is more interested in. Basically met with a brick wall. Then today’s curve ball.

The school doesn’t feel that he will be able to pass exams in this subject due to his learning issues. So they are now recommending that he drops the subject completely. Undertake no language learning at all. He would use the French class time to work on his other subjects.

So rather than try other learning routes they just want to ditch the subject. I’m kind of speechless. Will let Hawklad decide what happens next. BUT my initial take is that

…..Sadly it reflects the lack of flexibility in the UK teaching system. It also reflects the general approach schools take with those pupils who have learning disabilities.

Hanging around

A day perfect for just hanging around.

It’s was one of those school days yesterday. Four lessons scheduled. Four lessons that should take up many hours work for Hawklad. The first lesson had a few pieces of work on offer. But not much. Within a few minutes he had finished. The problem is that we are trying to stick to the classroom teaching plan. Hawklad through a misunderstanding ended up doing several lessons worth of work the other day. So he is too far ahead. He needs to wait until the class catches up.

Then nothing from the next two lessons. Absolutely nothing. No work. No research. No idea what the class has been looking at. Nothing for him to do. He tried emailing but got no response. It’s difficult for the teacher as they are trying to teach a class of 30. Some of the teaching assistants are good and they ensure the class material goes online so Hawklad can access it. Ok some verbal stuff is not shared but that is so understandable. The problem happens when the usual assistants are not in class. Maybe the class has no assistant working. Maybe the replacement assistant just doesn’t know about Hawklad. For whatever reason nothing is put online. Hawklad twiddles his thumbs.

The final lesson did email some work but it was work Hawklad had already done. That’s another problem you get when the teaching assistants change. They have no idea what work has already been sent in previous lessons. Hawklad quickly redid the work and that was the school day. Well that’s not quite true….

When I say Hawklad was twiddling his thumbs, that is not exactly true. We know these days much better now. Hawklad can sit and just wait OR

I could set him some work that may or may not fit with the teaching schedule OR

I could just let him play on his Xbox until some work turns up.

Guess one we went for. Yep bad parenting option. Can’t believe he beat me repeatedly at FIFA…..

Boring

Walking through that undergrowth will do havoc to my legs when I’m wearing shorts. It would ruin my catwalk career.

I can think of something else that really feels as bad as thorns and nettles on exposed legs.

Dad what is the point of this. I can’t do it. Never will do it and it’s boring. I’d rather wash the car. It’s that boring.”

I know Son. It really is.

If I could drop the subject Dad I would just to stop this weekly torture.”

Sadly you can’t drop Computing. Plus you need to be ok with computing and technology. Apart from this little bit of the subject you are really good at it.

I might be but every week this comes up and I it does my head in. Every week.”

It is just about every lesson. It is really stupid.

Just why?”

Sadly that’s not the teachers fault. The government forces schools to teach this. They think it’s a good idea. Which frankly shows you just how little they understand or care about the real world.

I don’t need it do I?”

No you certainly don’t. Certainly not the way it’s taught in our schools. I was never great with it and I’ve got a Masters Degree in Computing. In fact apart from my first job, I have never used it. The way schools do it, they get you to use languages that will be obsolete. Languages that are mind numbingly boring. Ones which only work if you get every word perfectly correct and everything in precisely the right order.

Which I can’t do Dad, I’m dyslexic….”

I know. It’s madness that you have to do it. It would be so much better if they encouraged you to problem solve and then teach you to have fun with technology. See what brilliant things you can do with computing.

##################

What are talking about.

CODING….

Start again

Another Monday and the start of another school at home week. I make that Week 38. That’s a lot of weeks. Funny thing is that it doesn’t feel like 38 weeks. Somedays it feels like only a couple of months. Other days it seems like years.

In all probability during the early part of 2021 it will be a full year of schooling at home. That wasn’t really in the plan.

It has really all felt a bit hit and miss. Some good bits and some not so good bits. Lots of frustrations. But equally lots of laughs. Some subjects where the teaching is working. Others where after 38 weeks it is still a complete waste of time. But that’s thing. With having to stick to the school curriculum we don’t have much scope to change things. We are dependent on the school making changes. But they have to stick to the national curriculum.

But over those 38 weeks we have settled into a rhythm. Parent and Son. No need to set the alarm as we just naturally wake up at the right time. No real pressure if Hawklad starts a few minutes early or late. No need to think about breaks or food. They kind of just happen. We know which lessons will work and which won’t. If we don’t have an item for a lesson we now know how to wing it. We are not surprised by the lack of feedback. Hawklad doesn’t panic now if a teacher forgets about him. I get on with stuff until I’m needed to help out. The school week just happens now.

True homeschooling did feel daunting now it feels very doable. Tough but something we can cope with. But Week 38 also marks a dangerous time. That’s a lot of weeks of emailing and phoning school. Trying to make improvements to the teaching. Make it more tailored to Hawklad. Am I starting to take my eye off the ball. Not pushing the school as much. Maybe week 38 is time to refocus and start again. Or maybe it’s just going to be another one of those weeks. If I was a betting man I would put my money on the latter. It just feels that way.

Fibonacci

We had a bit of a perfect storm during the morning. AND for a change it wasn’t the Yorkshire micro climate to blame.

MATHS

In particular number sequences. A whole 90 minutes dedicated to the little beauties. Geometric, Arithmetic, Square, Cube, Triangular, Fibonacci. I always remember thinking Fibonacci sounded like a really cool wrestler. The Maths Tutor didn’t find that thought very amusing.

For those who quite rightly have forgotten mathematics from school and college, the Fibonacci sequence is where the next number is the summation of the preceding two numbers. One of those things you are taught and will probably never need it. Fibonacci has only ever cropped up twice since school. Annoyingly not in the school exam. I remember giving one unfortunate External Consultant a bit of a frosty reception when he tried to convince me that I should be using Fibonacci to better manage agile teams at work. I think the poor chap learnt some new Yorkshire words and was then ushered out to annoy someone else.

The second time Fibonacci entered my world again was today. This morning we discovered that our son struggles with number sequences. He just can’t see the patterns. It wasn’t helped by the frequent use of decimal points to make the patterns even more pesky. Much frustration. Son couldn’t see the patterns at all and his dad could see the patterns BUT I struggled to describe them in words. Clearly one of those things I can do with out thinking but I’m not entirely convinced how I do it. Bit like trying to programme the washing machine.

But here’s the thing. I convinced son that it didn’t really matter. If sequences do come up in the exam then they won’t count for many marks. He can still have a stab at them and if all else fails, guess and move on to stuff that he will be able to do. And after his exam unless he meets many keen External Consultants, he is unlikely to need number sequences again. He’s better off learning stuff he wants to learn and stuff that he will use.

Let’s leave Fibonacci as a wrestling star.