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.

Ice and virus

Yes it’s been cold here. This cold…

But now a few days of less cold weather. If it’s not going to snow then the weather can keep its pesky ice then….

Snow hasn’t called yet, but Covid finally has. Double whammy, we both caught it. Fortunately so far it’s been just cold like for Hawklad. A weird cold for me. I could almost feel like it was going round the body trying to find a weakness. Throat, then try the nose, then try the head, then the chest, then try the tummy, then try the joints, then back to the throat. Not too bad at all, just annoying.

The other weird thing for me has been TASTE. I can still taste most things but not everything. COFFEE taste missing, CURRY taste missing, CHAI TEA taste missing. It’s bizzare drinking a Coffee and tasting just water. Eating CURRY and getting nothing. I even tried a super strong curry powder I had mistakenly bought one shopping trip. Normally it would have blown my socks off, but now, NOTHING……. But again fortunately, I have started to get the faintest of coffee experiences again this evening, maybe this tasteless period is very temporary. But please tell me ……. why I lost the good tastes like COFFEE yet the horrible Chesty Cough Medicine taste is unaffected…. Maybe this is the time to try Brussels Sprouts and Beetroot, maybe this is the one time I can eat them without pulling a proper face.

So we patiently wait until the tests go negative, at this rate we are going to not get the cards sent off, especially as a two day postal strike is looming. Postal strikes, train strikes, nurse strikes, is there nothing this Corrupt Government can’t purposely screw up.

Stay safe out there, it’s a mad old world.

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….

Monuments

A weekend walk on the Yorkshire Wolds.

Yorkshire does like a good old monument. Three good ones on one brief walk.

So school should be fully back in swing now but I’m left with one overriding feeling.

WHAT IS THE POINT…..

School helpfully emailed all parents with a list of topics that need revising for the upcoming Mock Exams. Unfortunately well over half the topics are new news items to Hawklad. Is it revising when you have to look at a topic for the first time. Deep sigh….

Hardly any interactions with teaching staff still, Hawklad is definitely feeling increasingly cut adrift. Unfortunately for the rare subjects that are still in touch, he kinda wishes they had joined in the collective radio silence.

One of the teachers did mark some of his submitted work. I thought it was really good work, better than I could ever manage. But what do I know, the teacher awarded him a FAIL. Apparently when a question asks for consequences of a particular event, marks will only be awarded if the pupil sticks to the limited number of consequences provided by the teacher in class, which have been approved by those in charge. It reflects just one of a number of equally valid opinions. Stick to what you are told. Parrot learn the wording and then regurgitate the words in the exam. Critical thinking, or thinking for yourself are not required. Valid consequences and detailed reasonings that differ from the very narrow school script are not accepted. I did recheck Hawklad’s answer and yes I quickly found that his arguments were backed up by a number of subject experts. Hawklad really can’t get his head round all this. It confuses him. It frustrates him. It makes him doubt himself.

What makes this worse is that this is his favourite subject. The subject he is best at. The one he enjoys the most and yet because of the academic approach, it’s now the one he is getting the lowest marks in.

Failed for thinking. Failed for having a passion in something. Kinda sums up the school at present.

It just seems like a MONUMENTal waste.

I do like a good pun, but tonight even that pun doesn’t make me smile. Yes school is back again.

Fungi 2

It’s been a cracking Fungi season. A gift that keeps on giving.

The school half term holiday starts tomorrow evening. The school at home project has completely nosedived this half term. Any support provided is becoming at best very very very patchy, too many of the subjects are dropping completely off the radar. It’s all very vexing and we both quip that it feels like the postman will be bringing a letter from school saying that Hawklad has been sacked. So a week off is needed to lift his spirits, to relax. He is seriously stressed out.

Apparently NOT….

School has made it clear that for pupils like Hawklad, this half term is about work and revising. The school will be checking to see that pupils have put in the hour after hour of work by setting tests as soon as school reopens again.

All work NO play.

I realise other parents might take a different view but this is so wrong to me. Everybody needs a break, especially in these times. Kids need time to relax and have fun. So many are stressed out. Stressed out with school, freaked out by the madness they see unfold all around them. No wonder that UK Child Mental Health Services are being swamped. Latest figures show that over 400000 children per month are being treated for mental health problems.

So here, yes there will be a small bit of work but hopefully bucket loads of relaxation and play. If Hawklad isn’t up to work then stuff school.

Autumn….

You can almost feel the nights drawing in.

A conversation today with Hawklad’s lead Clinician kinda confirmed the Plan A course. It’s been increasingly the likely path. Support which now comes his way from the NHS will not focus on a return to the school classroom. It will shift towards trying to get him ready for sitting exams in 10 months time, but sitting them away from the main group of pupils. A neutral, non school location. Plus the long term goal is to see if they can help him start College after this year is finished. They will issue a ‘can’t currently return to classroom note on medical grounds’. That is a relief as The Government is pressuring schools to start fining parents for keeping children away from school, even when the parent believes it’s in the child’s best interest.

So another year of school at home beckons, maybe it’s will end up being a full on homeschooling approach. Better stock up on the coffee then. Oh hang on, I’ve quit caffeine. Better stock up on Donuts then…..

Pushy

The farmer playing real life MINECRAFT.

Day One of the Two Day Heatwave. Todays garden temperature from our mini weather station hiding in the shade was….

That is ridiculously hot for Yorkshire, unheard of. The forecast is that it goes even higher tomorrow. At this rate I might have to take my jumper off. Unbelievably, it was so hot that Hawklad put shorts on, WOW, the last time that happened was when he was at nursery.

You can only fire water pistols for so many hours. Well if the school doesn’t send any work, you have to improvise the learning day….. So as we sheltered inside for a few moments and dried out, I tried to get my head round the Government’s latest ideas to sort out the Special Education mess. From what I can see it’s about replacing one mess with another mess while saving a bit more money….

Currently parents have to jump through a seemingly never ending number of ever shrinking hoops until their child gets a Plan approved (or mostly doesn’t). It’s a process which forces shellshocked parents to take on the mighty big bureaucracy. The lucky few emerge with a plan that is supposed to identify needs to be met. A personalised budget is then awarded to the child to help fund this. Sounds promising but what then tends to happen is that the big bad bureaucracy then says

You now have to give us that money back and that buys you a place in a mainstream school. No money no place. That money then pays for general teaching assistants who the school then use to help out teachers. They provide no dedicated help to Special Needs pupils. Then the big bad bureaucracy talks up the idea that PUSHY parents get this gold plated education for the lucky child. PUSHY parents are taking money from the majority of other pupils. This sets parent against parent while the special need pupil is mostly left without support. That’s the current system.

The new proposed system seems to be, keep the same nightmare approval process, make it harder but add in a bit of mediation when the application is almost inevitably rejected. If you do fluke it through to getting approval then rather than bothering identifying individual child need, parents are just offered a standard ‘one size fits all’ solution. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t suit the individual child, at least we are saving money and it’s much easier to administer.

So it’s a mess and if it changes it’s going to be just another mess, but cheaper.

Sigh, breathe deeply and slump a bit lower in the chair. Definitely time for water pistols…..

Harvesting

The farmer is hard at work in the fields. Whatever it takes.

We have a real problem with education in the UK. Too much potential is missed. Too many pupils are served up factory production line schooling which is about the needs of the system rather than the needs of the individual child. If you don’t fit the expected mould then you are discarded.

The farmer chooses to focus on the crops that provide him with what he needs to keep going.

What a perfect indication of the health of the UK’s education system than hearing one of the loathsome, self absorbed candidates standing to be our next Prime Minister talking about a disabled child needing to go to a special school because ‘disabled children are generally aren’t intelligent enough’ to go to a mainstream school.

Unbelievable.

Unforgivable.

Lost for words……

Sadly it’s not an isolated view……

Had a long video meeting with school today about Hawklad. Call me NAIVE but I thought school might have been just a tad POSITIVE. A pupil against the odds teaching himself to read when school told him it was beyond him. From having a reading age of about 6 years behind the expected school standard to now reading History Texts without assistance. All achieved through his hard work in just over 2 years. A pupil who is getting really great marks in the exams and tests he sits at home. Definitely NAIVE I am.

‘We are concerned that his marks aren’t reflective of the true position”

“Are you sure that you are not helping him, or he is using GOOGLE to answer questions”

“He is performing way ahead of his predicted attainment levels”

“So he wants to go to college. Has he thought about some more vocational routes rather than college. He may probably not meet Our College’s entry requirements. College might be beyond his academic levels. Don’t want to disappoint him .”

“Other colleges and places might have offerings more suited to his level and requirements.”

“Unless he can demonstrate he can perform in formal exams then there is little we can do, course work and home work doesn’t really count these days. That’s how the system works….”

SPEECHLESS……

School can’t seem to get their head round the sad irony that he learnt to read and overcome his dyslexia when he was REMOVED from their CLASSROOM environment. Like too many pupils with dyslexia, with special educational needs, they are just dumped into the bottom set with minimal help. Assumptions are made on low attainment levels. To get even the most minimal help they are required to put their hand up in front of the rest of the class and admit they are struggling. That is never going to happen long term, occasionally when Hawklad did that, other kids poked fun at him. The teachers often focusing on those pupils with the worst behaviour so even if the hand went up, help never arrived. So he stopped putting his hand up and he started to fall behind. This is not an isolated case, it’s sadly reflective of modern UK schooling. It’s all about EXAMS. Schools become EXCELLENT because of exam results not because they meet individual educational needs. This school is no different to most schools here.

In the UK we have a looming food production crisis because we have become too dependent on factory, one big size fits all farming….

The school term finishes in a weeks time. Then it’s a 6 week break. I’m discussing with Hawklad what he wants to do. It’s his future. It’s has to be his call but I know what I would do in an instant if it was my call. Why does it feel like the school system is working against him.

Worst

Biodiversity captured in one photo. Just moments later Captain Chaos decided it was a great place to cock his leg. The flying creatures didn’t hang around after that….

Maybe I should send The Captain to 10 Downing Street. Maybe that’s the only way of getting The Serial Liar to finally quit, end this nightmare and we can get our country back again.

Look at the mess here in the UK. That is what happens when you give power to the worst amongst us. When will we learn.

Heatwave

Apparently we have a heatwave heading our way. Probably not today…..

School are supposed to have approached the Exam Authorities to discuss what the position with Hawklad is. Three clear problems exist.

1) All the courses the school run are based on the pupil sitting a final exam. What happens if that child can’t sit the exam. They temporarily changed the rules because of Covid, allowing the use of teacher final assessments if exams could not be taken. Those changes have now been ditched by the Government.

2) Most of the subjects have practical, in class requirements. Activities that pupils must undertake or they fail the subject. For example Geography, pupils must undertake a supervised field trip. Hawklad has already missed that, so has he already failed the subject? In previous years there was some flexibility but the Government has tightened the requirements.

3) One of the only options school can come up with is for Hawklad to resit the entire subject. But if he still can’t sit exams, if he can’t do the required practicals ….. that gets us nowhere.

It’s another sign that the UK’s school education system is just too inflexible. It’s designed by politicians for the benefit of politicians, it’s not about the needs of the individual child. Education is really far too IMPORTANT to be left in the hands of Politicians.