Fumes

Once again Hawklad was puzzled.

“What is the point of this. Will I ever need most of the stuff I’m having to learn…..”

Not much…..

Not much at all…..

Parrot fashion, trying to cram in formula after formula, memorising orders, big words, diagrams, tables, definitions.

Today it was all about learning how to calculate half-life’s. Memorising the charge, mass, ionisation, equations for alpha, beta and gamma radiation. Trying to force in the ways to calculate SIN, COSINES and TANGENT, apparently learning the abbreviation SOHCAHTOA helps with that 🤦‍♂️😱. Then it was trying to memorise chemical formula for the production of photosynthesis, respiration and I don’t know what. Finally it was trying to have a photographic recognition of the teacher annotations for various random love poems. If I see any more references to enjambment or anaphora then I’m going to scream and I’m not the one trying to learn this rubbish.

What is the point.

So when Hawklad asked, ‘Did you learn anything from school that you could use’, what could I say.

Could I honestly say lots to set me up for life then. NO. Why are we doing this to our children. Is it for them or is it for others.

I remember one glorious Chemistry A Level lesson when we spent a lovely sunny afternoon outside while the science blocked was made safe after a gas fume leak. For some reason the Fume Cupboard had failed as we undertook some mind numbingly boring experiment, so we got the rest of the day off. Bart Simpson would be so proud if some one had pulled that prank off.

So did I learn anything from school, YES.

I learnt how to disable a FUME CUPBOARD. Now that proved really useful, I just wish Hawklad could find something similar.

Ok…

Thankfully looking in the opposite direction to School

School is school.

School is so school.

School is so 😱😱😱😱ing school

Support from school seemingly dwindling away. A school report that had more gaps and missing information than a Donald Trump Tax Return. But at least I had booked video slots with each teacher on the Year 11 Online Parent Evening. A chance to get feedback, to give an update on how Hawklad is doing, to plan the next few months. Teachers spending time with every parent… well all apart from one parent.

Ok….. 20 minutes from the start of the first online teacher meeting and then an automated email from the booking system…

Our meetings had all been cancelled by School……

The reason from the Head of Year

They (some of his teachers) are concerned that; because they have not seen him in school for a number of years they do not have a great deal of feedback for you.

😱@🤦‍♂️#ing unbelievable

For a start the teachers have made no effort to contact him in two years, it’s been us trying to chase them. Hawklad has been diligently completing every piece of work that appears on the online school system, sending his work in, completing every single piece of homework that appears on the system, completing the tests and papers. He’s been doing that for two years. I’m sorry but the teachers should have more than enough feedback on that. The only conclusion is that most of his work has not even been looked at by school. The blanks on his report, the lack of any teacher marking on his work provide further evidence of that. Plus surely a teacher would want to know how one of their students is doing if they are not able to see that pupil in person. What’s going well, what’s not going do well. Find out if there is anything they can help him with.

Apparently not……

So where does that leave Hawklad apart from having a school that doesn’t care. A school more than happy to pick up his state funding and then reallocate it to other budgets. A request for external support to be funded from his education funds was turned down just two months ago. The Head deemed that it wasn’t a priority for his limited budget..

So the Award winning School is down to one job now, arrange Hawklad’s exams, exam location and invigilators. That’s a nightmare to organise as a parent in this country. Even with that job school had to be forced into doing that, they clearly were considering not enrolling him for the exams. I’m trying to find out if they have even bothered talking to the Exam Board about Hawklad’s unique circumstances.

His education and exam preparation will be without school support. If school do try to help then it will be a bonus but we are not holding our breath. I will try to find ways to get him a place at a college which does not rely on these upcoming exams. If I can then I will give Hawklad the option of not sitting the exams. He really could do without the additional anxiety that this process is already starting to heap up on him. He is also at such a massive disadvantage in these exams compared to his classmates, almost like he is being set up to fail by school. Set up to fail not because of his abilities or hard work, but because he doesn’t fit the education system.

We are just 5 months from the final exams. Hawklad wants college as the next step forward in September. Maybe college in person, maybe home based. It’s all about helping him get there. Whether that’s via these pesky exams or through a Plan B, we shall see.

School doesn’t matter. They have failed Hawklad.

Hawklad matters. That’s the key.

Cheese Monster

Just deleted the first attempt at writing this post. A nice, positive, happy post about School – NOT. For some reason I found myself writing far too many words with like #@#!ing or #!¥€ed or #@it. Words probably that would upset even the most relaxed Profanity Filter.

Must think relaxational music and meditational poses.

OK. Talk school another day when I’m just a little less like a seriously grumpy Honey Badger, let’s just say it was almost my Hulk Smash moment as a result of the School Parent Evening.

Time to talk Pets….

I have been conducting extensive scientific experimentation into the eating preferences of a mad dog. Everyday for 2 weeks I have put three types of food on his plate

Dog Food

Mince or Chicken (used to hide his hay fever medicine)

Cheese (used to hide his yucky dog medicine).

The results are clear. Every single time he scoffs the cheese and indirectly, medicine first. Then it’s demolish the mince or chicken. Finally and reluctantly he picks at the dog food. Clearly Captain Chaos has become a cheese monster, maybe he’s been watching too much Wallace and Gromit.

AND watching Wallace & Gromit is way more uplifting and constructively educational than Hawklad’s Useless School could ever be.

COVID easing

At last, some negative COVID tests. Finally the taste of coffee has returned, not fully, but I can taste it now. Spicy foods are still hit and miss, the strongest of curry flavours only produce a bit of a sweet taste but zero spice. With Hawklad his messed up taste is fish related. Prior to COVID he loved fish, now apparently the taste is horrid. Most bizarre. Plus an annoying, never ending, simultaneously blocked and runny nose. But in the scheme of things, luckily a seemingly minor bump into COVID.

As a result a very quiet and isolated festive holiday so far. Hawklad could really do with more social life with friends his own age. Maybe that can come if he gets to College in September. At least meeting with people who can master the rudimentary elements of FIFA23. A game most appreciated by Hawklad during COVID. To me it’s the gaming equivalent of Nuclear Fission and completely beyond my advanced levels of muppetry. How can randomly pressing four buttons and two triggers be so hard…..

In less than a week it’s over and pesky school is back.

That’s such a sobering thought.

More Grey

More grey weather. More puddles. Still banned from using a hosepipe by the Water Company. It’s a drought you know.

School is being very like school. So far this week, out of 16 lessons only 2 provided any material for Hawklad to try at home. Actually that is just one subject, radio silence from the other teachers. It does feel like in most subjects we have transitioned into full on homeschooling. Maybe school’s function now in most subjects is just to sort out the arrangements for the final exams, the teaching is down to me. 🤣🤣🤣🤣 clearly they haven’t seen my old school reports 🤣🤣🤣Well at least we can work the homeschooling around the World Cup Matches.

There are far too many children who are struggling or who are at risk. Safeguarding was everything before Covid shuck up the schooling systems. Not sure it is now….

I can’t remember the last time someone from school asked how Hawklad was doing, how is he feeling, are there any issues. It’s well over 2 years since anyone from school has directly spoken to him. Not one teacher has heard his voice in that time, communication has been through the very occasional email. Ok they might think I’ve got things covered but don’t they have a duty of care over the well-being of one of their pupils. Are all parents trustworthy? Should they not check. Should they not at least arrange to speak to the pupil directly. Am I being naive, maybe schools are just focused on exam performance these days. Hawklad’s School is clearly ticking all the right boxes as it’s rated as Outstanding by the authorities.

It must be me….

Grey

That kinda day. Most definitely GREY.

Have I mentioned that our local area still has a hosepipe ban. That pesky scorching sun. The other day Hawklad queried why people in Yorkshire don’t emigrate to somewhere nearer the Equator. I’m not sure my answer was entirely convincing.

My oldest sister would share Hawklad’s view on Yorkshire, it’s weather and the attraction of the Equatorial Climate. Anything below 25C is too cold for her. But it does beg the question how she will cope on her Bucket List Holiday next year. Arctic Circle to see the Northern Lights and Alaska. Not exactly Toasty.

Toasty was how I was trying to feel as I made a call to a local college while sitting on the back room radiator. A radiator turned on FULL. I was trying to book Hawklad in for a taster visit. School had failed to let us know that the window for booking these was now open. They hadn’t even mentioned what this college can offer. The reason apparently is that they don’t believe college is a viable option for Hawklad. Deep SIGH.

The college does appear promising as it has a well established setup to offer post school opportunities for pupils who have special educational needs. So we will see if Hawklad can attend a taster session in the New Year and see what he thinks. If the main college is too busy for him then they do have a separate smaller offsite teaching block which has been setup specifically to provide a quieter, more tailored learning environment. He could start in September.

But first we have to focus on Hawklad’s immediate wellbeing and helping with his anxieties. Then it’s the issue of the final exams in June without any real support from school. But at least we have the first opportunity door appearing in the distance. It’s a start.

World Cup

Hawklad had been working towards his Mock Exams, waiting for school to clarify the arrangements. This week the exams started and we got clarification. Hawklad will definitely not sit mock exams until at least February. The question is how much more teaching will be made available to him from now on as much of the online school material has dried up. There is talk of one to one tuition for a couple of hours a week, however school can’t afford to buy that support in. As school are understaffed we don’t have a start date for support. So we plod on effectively with homeschooling and rely on school to arrange the final exams. Hoping we cover the right areas, find the right things to learn.

It really does feel like that a gap is opening up with his school based classmates.

“Well Dad I might end up failing my exams but at least I can watch the World Cup”

Always a bright side……

Bad History

The fungi keep on coming in Yorkshire, must be the perfect weather for them.

Hawklad was muttering about school, in particular HISTORY.

“Dad why do they just focus on the bad stuff in history. Wars, murders, executions, purges, treachery, villains. We clearly spent month after month after month studying Victorian Serial Killers for a bit of light relief from the bad history stuff.”

Yes it has not exactly been a barrel of laughs.

“It’s been like this for years. Just bad history. Never the Good Stuff in history. The uplifting things. The Heroes. The groundbreaking discoveries. The breakthroughs. The great reformers. The adventures. The fun stuff. So many great things have happened in history yet we never look at them. “

It does make you think. Why months of schooling on Jack the Ripper and yet nothing on Mother Teresa or Marie Curie. Not a mention about the Moon Landings, Climbing Everest, Discovering Penicillin, the first flight, development of philosophy, art and literature, the good stuff we can be proud of in history.

History can be uplifting and inspiring. It’s doesn’t have to be always BAD…..

Bill

A great place to think….

A great place to get cold as well…..

Well I was…..

24 hours after my double shot of Flu and Covid booster vaccines. The arm which enjoyed the Pfizer needle was feeling like it had been repeatedly punched by Tyson Fury. The rest of me was just feeling cold, like I had a cold. Not sure why but every single time I have had the Flu vaccine, the next day I have without fail come down with cold symptoms and it was no different this year.

So feeling COLD and THINKING next to this awesome little lake.

“Dad I’ve come up with a Christmas list idea, how about a Scalextric Set…”

Bang goes my one great big surprise idea….. Pants…..

“You don’t need to get me any Shakespeare stuff Dad, anything to do with School English Literature is not ever making the list now. Definitely not after school sucked the life out of it.”

It’s ok, Shakespeare was not in the Gift running list. The one and only time he did make the GIFT list, it was via the wonderful Horrible Histories BILL movie.

“Dad we haven’t watched the Horrible Histories movie in ages. I learnt more from that movie than school has ever managed to teach me about Shakespeare in years. The movie was fun, school isn’t….”

He’s not wrong there….

Can you remember the last time you had fun with your schools.

“Not happened so far, but to be fair, I’ve only been at school for 11 years.”

And stood by this cold lake, we probably stumble on why education in the UK is in such a mess for so many families.

Touch of Orange

Wet old day here in Yorkshire, it’s been wet for days now. Unbelievably we are still covered by drought rules and a hosepipe ban. Well there isn’t much need for our hosepipe presently, it’s been pretending to be a sleeping snake in our long grass for months now.

Yes it’s WET, yes it’s NOVEMBER, but there is still a touch of orange if you look hard enough.

A good walk to just switch off.

Hawklad goes through phases where THOUGHTS get stuck. Anxious thoughts, stressful thoughts, negative thoughts, confusing thoughts, possible upsetting thoughts. Thoughts that just won’t go away. They seem to take on more meaning, seemingly acquire more permanence. I remember reading a Psychology Article that labelled these thoughts as Mind Bullies. These thoughts try to bully you into thinking that they are more significant, have more meaning than other thoughts. Not just thoughts that quickly disappear, these try to take over. Try to ruin the day. Try to bring a person down.

Today Hawklad decided to write down the problem thoughts. He wrote down 168 Bully Thoughts in just a few hours…. As he said.

Definitely overthinking.

I try to help but I’m no specialist. Am I doing more harm than good, I have no idea. But here’s the problem, there is no access to specialist help for many. School only focus on academic performance, huge waiting lists and insufficient capacity effectively rule out mental health support. Hawklad is not self harming, not violent, not suicidal, so he is viewed as low priority and has little chance of getting specialist help. Limited resources have to focus on others. Then all too soon he will be classed as an adult and then the support completely dries up. So families and friends do their best to help.

We will keep fighting these bullies.