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.

Big Brother

Still really cold here. Makes a pleasant change from mud.

Fridays school day ended with a ‘live teaching session’. Pupils have to sign in and take part in a live class. The teacher can see the pupils and everyone can hear everybody else. The classes are recorded and reviewed by senior teachers. This is to ensure pupils are behaving and participating. Ironically English are focusing on George Orwell’s 1984. Big Brother comes to mind.

Hawklad tried but in the end had a bit of a meltdown. So we turned the session off within seconds.

School just don’t seem to understand how difficult Zoom like sessions are for some children. The school attitude seems to be ‘well just do it and it will get easier, other pupils are fine with it’. That was the teachers attitude on Friday. “If he doesn’t do the session then he will miss out, he should really be doing it.” It’s that ‘one teaching approach must fit all’ mindset. If something doesn’t work for a child then tough, the child just has to be forced through the hoop.

Well he ain’t doing it…. Not until HE feels comfortable enough. Time is better spent on things that work for Hawklad. Things that he enjoys and which enrich him.

We say Pants to Zoom…..

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….

Really

Another school deep sigh moment. Time to look at the view for a few moments and breathe.

All parents have different takes on life and schooling. No one right answer. Parents can fundamentally disagree on things like schools. So I am fully aware that what O might say now won’t strike home with many. It’s just me.

These are tough times. So much stress, anxiety and fear. It’s bad enough for adults , what’s it like for our children. It must be a nightmare for them. It’s robbing them of a large chunk of their precious childhood. So I’m my opinion it’s time to cut them some slack. Clearly that view is not shared.

Late last night Hawklad had an email from one of his teachers. Sent to all the class. It was a reminder that the homework that had been set over Christmas was due tomorrow morning. The teacher wanted to remind all the class that the large piece of work had to be done on time. One quote stuck with me. The homework is due regardless of the pandemic lockdown, negatives will be issued.

Ok some parents will be happy with that. This one isn’t. For a start why are we giving out homework over Christmas? Really. It happens every holiday. Can’t we just let children enjoy the time off. Especially at this dystopian time. And then those words regardless of the pandemic lockdown. Really…. For me those 5 words sum up everything which is wrong with the school system.

For me it REALLY needs to change.

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.

Change

Sorry going to milk our temporary farmers field lake for photos while it’s here. It does make such a difference to the view.

Time does make a difference. Look at schools. On Monday morning our PM said schools were completely safe and parents should send them there right away. Monday evening suddenly according to the same PM schools were clearly vectors for transmission and had to close immediately. Then on Tuesday the very same PM said schools were completely safe again but unfortunately staying shut. Having said that he has a track record of this. The man who championed Brexit to become leader likes to forget that before that he said “I would vote to stay in the single market (EU). I’m in favour of the single market”…..

So things can clearly change. One day I was one of two parents, the next I crashed into single parenting and the world of bereavement. Things can change.

But here’s the thing when they do change THEY CAN ALSO CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. That’s why there is always hope. Good things can still happen. So yes I’m struggling through a period or depression. Yes it feels like Groundhog Day. But it can change.

I can do this. We can do this.

I would vote to stay in the single market. I’m in favour of the single market

Lake

The winter farm lake is starting to form. Wow it was wet feet trying to take this photo.

So again today the Government is telling parents that they must send their children to school if it’s open. It’s a mess. Some schools have been closed. Some are opening soon. Some partly closed. Some are opening today. The PM again is saying schools are perfectly safe. He must have evidence that shows children, teachers, teaching staff, parents and carers cannot catch the virus. Wish he would share that so it can all be cleared up. Maybe he could share that with his own scientific advisers as well. The Government is again threatening parents with legal action and fines. The teacher unions are taking the Government to court over its failure to operate safe working environments. It’s such a mess.

So where do we stand? Hawklads year group is kind of homeschooling for the next two weeks then after they have had one covid test they are back in the classroom on the 18th. Well not Hawklad.

His call is that he can’t go back yet. He will look again at the end of the this half term. I’m trying to get another medical exemption letter from his Key Health Worker who is due to come and visit him this week. If they won’t issue one or are not allowed to by the Government then they can see me in court. I’ve seen enough Perry Mason episodes to look after myself. I won’t be the only parent there.

Heres the thing. Put the Aspergers severe anxieties to one side. Each parent and child has to make a judgement call on if attending school is safe. Well clearly safety cannot be guaranteed. More so now than ever with this virus. Children, teachers, parents, grand parents are ending up in hospital with it. The Government might try to hide that information, but it is happening. The virus can infect all age ranges. So it is an individual judgment call. Is the benefits of classroom education and socialisation worth the inevitable risk. That’s not a call for Johnson or his inept Education Minister. They have a track record of lying, not caring and making the wrong disastrous calls.

Each family will have a view. All as valid as each other. Even without the anxieties and present fears, OURS would be no it’s not worth the risk. It won’t until the virus is under control and schools are allowed to put in the necessary safety mechanisms. The first has to be opening up home online schooling. That reduces the numbers in school at any one time, creates space, starts to build a safer more inviting learning environment.

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…

To be or not to be

So finally an announcement on schools. Then follows the inevitable confusion, lies and burying heads in the sand. Best summed up by

  • The independent expert scientific panel urging schools to not open as it is not safe,
  • The governments own expert scientific panel demanding schools to be closed as they are not safe in the current environment,
  • Then our so called PM announces that schools are completely safe, it’s people mixing outside of schools which is the problem.

The upshot appears to be that secondary schools will stay shut for a few more days. Most secondary children are expected to be back by the 18th January. By that time a team of volunteers will then oversea a mass virus testing exercise for all pupils. Some schools will stay closed longer but the government won’t say which ones. Most Primary schools will open on the 4th January as normal.

Ok…. I would not be filled with so much cynicism if any Government announcement wasn’t worked out on the back of a cigarette packet and it wasn’t accompanied by a tirade of lies.

Anyway different people are saying different things. Clearly some of the Government including the PM haven’t read the Government’s own policy. So many questions are being ignored. For example why are the schools for younger children staying open when others are closed? Are those children and teachers somehow mysteriously protected? Why are face masks required in public places but not in the classroom? Any person working with children has to be officially vetted yet that’s been dropped for the Covid testing programme. Is that safe? The covid test that will be used is problematic, doesn’t have the greatest accuracy and is difficult to self administer. So how is that going to work with pupils self administering the test in a large group with unqualified volunteers and teachers who have little medical experience? No mention of Special Schools – what do they do? How are schools going to fund the infrastructure required to set up the covid testing. Why are the Government refusing to promote online education for those that it would suit?

Many more questions but you get the picture. It’s a mess…..

Who knows

Dog really wants to walk through that. I’m not so keen. Who wins the battle of minds.

I’ve got wet feet….

So the schools are here are due to go back next Monday. The hospitals are full to busting. Infection rates are rising fast.

The Government says the situation is in hand. The scientists and doctors are pleading for more action. They want schools to stay closed and use online education for a few weeks. The Government is resisting the move to that. They might stagger the return over a week with a good portion of pupils back in 7 days. They want to test all pupils with the unreliable, quick results method in the first week. That’s the answer apparently.

So as I’m writing this most parents just don’t know what’s happening next week.

I guess it doesn’t effect our little family that much. Hawklad is not starting back next week anyway. He just can’t. Maybe more online support will be opened up. How knows. We just have to make the best of it. Go with the flow.

It’s all such a huge mess.