Catch up

Can you believe it. 14 months of school at home. Just over half of that time has happened with most of his classmates back at school. Trying to maintain a remote link with his class was always going to be difficult. It can never be perfect. Especially when the Government’s attitude has been to try and force all children back into classrooms as soon as possible. Schools instructed to make it more difficult for children to work remotely. Schools and parents threatened with legal action if pupils are not back in the class. Our school wanted to offer a remote learning option. Wanted to change the school week with most pupils spending part of the school week, remote learning. Wanted to tailor education and create a better school working environment. Unfortunately that was not allowed so the remote learning option had to be largely turned off. That makes things much harder…..

Revision is supposed to start for the upcoming school year exams this week. No idea how they will work for Hawklad. But the individual subjects are now issuing revision guides. Indicating which pieces of school work have to be revisited and revised. In a couple of subjects there are no surprises – we have covered those areas, undertaken the work required. But then there are other subjects. Areas that the class have undertaken that Hawklad was not aware of. In a couple of subjects clearly large tracts of class work, entire areas have not been shared. Is it ok to call it revision when he’s visiting an area for the very first time.

It’s such a mixed bag. Yes a couple of subjects have exceeded expectations, Hawklad has done the entire teaching requirements. A couple have been kind of as expected, covered most areas but with gaps. And some subjects have gone so much worse than expected, with Hawklad being so far behind his classmates.

Surely in the modern world, with everything that technology has to offer in terms of keeping connected, surely my country should be so much better at remote learning. So much better at EDUCATION.

wander

The perfect late Spring weather….

Perfect weather for getting stuck in a queue…

When you are stuck in a car waiting for any movement the mind tends to wander. Many questions.

What has happened to my country?

When did we become such an inwardly looking, uncaring, reactionary and thuggish country?

What type of twisted and broken country are we leaving for future generations?

What hope is there when a country becomes so utterly fractured?

Just how bad will things get for so many with Brexit going so badly wrong?

Why are so many voters happy to vote for a corrupt, inept, racist, lying, misogynistic clown?

Then the mind wandered to…..

Is it me. Is it me that is the outlier here?

If I don’t belong in my country anymore, what do I do, where do I go?

Then the traffic started to move. The hail kept coming down. The view out of the car windscreen started to change, sadly my view about my country didn’t…..

Get me.

I’ve just listened to the lead BBC Political Editor basically say that British voters are not interested in questions about the PM honesty. They don’t care if he is corrupt or not. To them it’s just tittle tattle. What they care about is that how he is delivering Brexit for them, how he is keeping them safe from Covid and how he is one of them.

Excuse the words ….. what utter #########. Clearly the Political Editor doesn’t speak for me….

That’s the thing in life. Something I’ve noticed as the years have passed. I haven’t found many who I feel get me. Who understand me. Who can speak for me. Even those who should be closest to me. Family, partner, many friends. Do they really get me. Why don’t they see how I see things. Do they really understand me. They might but is that more what they want to see or feel. Probably not. That’s just human nature. I’m probably exactly the same with most other people. It will be the same for all of us. If your lucky you might find at least one person who does get you. And to set the record straight that is most certainly not The Prime Minister or the BBC Political Editor……

Britain

Bad weather on the way. Around here it’s called moky yukken it dooon. I probably could explain to you how that is pronounced but that would give away the Yorkshire Entry Test we have at our borders 😂😂😂😂 Helps keep out the numpties…..

A quick scan at todays news headlines tells me everything I need to know about the country I live in these days. Just why Yorkshire really needs these anti numpty controls. In a nutshell the following news words sum up modern Britain.

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Boris sends Gunboats to Jersey to protect our fish from the French….. (that’s an unaltered headline, I kid you not)

Boris Johnson helps billionaire Friend James Dyson to pay millions less in tax….. in an unrelated story Boris Johnson’s brother has been made a Director of James Dyson’s company.

Government announce that Covid strategy is on track and the threat from mutations has been overstated, testing data confirm that that ….In unrelated news the Government confirmed that they have not yet started surge testing for the really worrying Indian mutation as it is not seen as a current threat. Even without this enhanced testing, over 800 cases have been confirmed over the last couple of weeks.

Traditionally Labour voting Hartlepool is likely to vote for Boris in today’s By-election. Apparently the town sees itself aligned with Boris Johnson’s vision for Britain – in unrelated news, after Brexit and 10 years of Conservative governing Hartlepool has the highest unemployment rate in the country. It’s fishing industry has collapsed since Brexit. It needs 9 food banks (it needed zero 10 years ago) and just under 30% of children in the town are officially listed as living in poverty.

A recent poll finds that the majority of voters are blaming immigration for the countries woes – there are no words…..

The Government has confirmed a new royal yacht will be built at a cost of £200M. The Government has also confirmed that it is looking to spend £35 Billion on new missiles for its nuclear submarine fleet. – in unrelated news the Government has been unable to find resources to fund a proper pay increase for its NHS heroes or increase child poverty payments to families most in need.

The Government has confirmed that the budget for overseas clean water and sanitation projects will be slashed by 80% as part of non-essential service cutbacks – there are no words…….

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Today I am officially done with my country……

Early

On our trip out the other day it was interesting to see the change in the pace of life. Suddenly shop car parks are full again. All the outside tables are taken at pubs and cafes. The public buses are busy again. People are gathering in groups again. Masks being worn outside are much more of a rarity. Social distancing…. what social distancing.

Don’t get me wrong I’m as eager as anyone to see things open up again. I won’t say return to normal as that thought annoys me – was the old normal that good and why didn’t we seize the opportunity to build a better normal. Yes our vaccination programme being delivered by the brilliant NHS is going really well. But I’m anxious. Hearing the Government announce that the battle is almost won, just beggars belief. It’s not won until all countries get on top of this dreadful virus. It’s not won when we are still getting deaths each day. Still at 2000 new cases a day. In younger age groups the infections rates are rising. Even after a period of lockdown rates are still stubbornly high. Outbreaks of mutations including the really worrying Indian variant are rising. The vaccines are not 100 effective, we are not sure just how long they will stay effective across the population and the younger groups have not been vaccinated at all. The Young can get severe CovidI was reading that as many as 12% of children catching the virus are needing to be hospitalised or are suffering from Long Covid. That doesn’t sound like a war won.

But we start the process of relaxing the rules. Foreign holidays allowed soon. Large Crowds returning to sporting and cultural events without social distancing. The requirement to wear masks in schools in communal areas such as corridors is to be removed. Rules surrounding isolation after contact with a positive case to be dropped in favour of fairly regular resting. The message is clear from the top hence I’m not surprised that the majority of people are ditching the masks.

Yes I’m anxious. At the very least masks and social distancing should stay while the reopening goes ahead, until mutations and case numbers fall to really low levels. Until vaccination is a world wide reality. This all feels like a bit of a punt to me. I just hope luck is with us this time.

Independent

Here’s an independent soul. A pain to catch in Pokemon Go this morning. Definitely independent.

When I managed public sector procurements and groups. Independent meant INDEPENDENT. If I broke those rules I would be sacked and if serious enough prosecuted. I knew a few people who ended up in prison for not being independent in public office.

The BBC has a management body that basically runs the company. Determines its approach to news. Is supposed to ensure it’s impartiality. For years that largely worked. That’s why BBC News was so valued internationally.

This week the Government appointed a new member to the BBC Board. A person who has worked for the ruling Conservative Party at a high level. He also happens to be the brother of the current Government Minister for Schools. Remember him, he was the one who said kids taking time off for bereavement were having ‘extended holidays’. He joins on the Independent BBC Board the Government appointed chairman of the BBC who has previously donated £400000 to the Conservative Party. He also joins another appointee who was a Conservative Party Counsellor.

Then on top of that the Government tried to put a very controversial Newspaper Friend in charge of the countries independent Media Regulator. That failed but there is always a way. The person put in charge was less controversial but is the wife of the former editor and political commentator of the biggest Conservative backing newspaper.

Independence……

A much missed quality these days here.

Investment Opportunity

Oh if they only sold chips in that size packets in the shops. That would be an opportunity I could not turn down…..

Everyone likes an investment opportunity with a great rate of return. I came across one yesterday, thanks to the helpful news reports. The news agencies are reporting that Lord Brownlow offered to pay £58k to cover the costs of the Prime Ministers controversial flat makeover. The thoughtful Lord can afford it as he has a net worth of over £250 million. In addition to his generous makeover offer he has also donated £3 million to the Governing Party and some of its MPs.

Now here’s the investment opportunity. Since 2017 the Government has awarded Lord Brownlow £120 Million in public contracts. So invest just over £3million and then receive £120 million. That’s a tidy investment return…

So maybe we can club together. Look for coins behind the sofa. Check those pockets. Raise a few million then give it to the UK Government or maybe donate it to the Prime Minister so he can buy a few more £850 per roll wallpaper. Then we start to rake in the money from the government contracts that come our way. We might even get to call ourself a Lord or Baroness……

That’s a plan…….

Nothing to see here

I was reading a news article about home schooling during the lockdown. A government politician was quoted as saying basically that all children needed to be in the classroom. No exceptions. Pupils discipline and grades had deteriorated during lockdown. Homeschooling could never work properly.

Ok so the last year must have a write off for Hawklad

Well let’s think about that…… Over the last year his grades have gone UP. So well that he was moved up sets. Look at his best subject. A year ago he could talk for days about British medieval history. He could name and describe every English monarch. He could talk well about Roman history. A year later he can still do that but now listen to him confidently talk American, European and Chinese history. Listen to him talk about recent world history, Classical Greek times…. you get the picture.

He’s expanded his knowledge on the animal kingdom.

He’s getting great marks now in English Literature. Macbeth, Animal Farm are well within his grasp.

A year ago we were fighting to get him support for his dyslexia. He needed assistance to read even the simplest text. A year at home and he hardly ever needs to ask for help with reading. He can do it himself. Yes he has to skip some words but now he can read articles on line. He can read books now. Slowly yes, but read definitely. 7 years of classroom teaching and he’s made the leap forward at HOME.

I’m no superman. No Yoda. No expert in teaching. Watch me look blankly in most subjects. I’m a bang average parent. Homeschooling has just suited Hawklad. He’s more relaxed. Can pace around. Can jump around subjects. Take breaks. Look at things he wants to. No pressure asking questions, no anxiety putting his have up in front of an overcrowded classroom. It just works for him.

Here’s the thing, the traditional classroom will suit some children. But not everyone. So why do THEY force all kids through the same hoops. Through the same moulds. Through the same exam routes. If the last 12 months has taught us anything it’s that we need to cater for all children. One path just isn’t enough.

One Word

Some words you won’t here the UK’s dodgy Prime Minister say.

Sorry,

I did lie,

Yes I have had multiple affairs in office,

I did give a former lover thousands in public funds,

Yes I did publicly say that Brexit would be a massive mistake,

I did say that I would never ever agree to the Brexit Irish Sea border just a few months before I agreed to it,

My middle names do include de Pfeffel

I resign,

I did say that…..

Unfortunately he has said some words. Some bad words. Some very bad words. When resisting calls for another lockdown our loveable caring leader said “well let the bodies pile high”. Arguably the worst words ever said by a serving Prime Minister. Any of one of our previous leaders would have resigned in disgrace. Not Boris Johnson. Another disaster he believes he can bluster out of. First deny he said that. Well that failed, multiple witnesses confirm that he was lying again. So let’s get my friends to help.

But just one word makes such a difference.

As multiple news agencies confirmed the wording the BBC decides to change one word. That’s the once independent BBC News Service whose two bosses are now friends of Boris Johnson. Even they had to confirm the story eventually but suddenly the Johnson quote was changed. Just one word but it made the needed difference. It became ‘the bodies COULD pile up’.

Just one word changes everything. Just like Johnson changing ‘I won’t resign’ to ‘I will resign’ – just one word makes all the difference.

Play

Another gloriously chilly day here. The perfect weather to play.

It’s official, school play time is getting shorter. A deliberate government policy. A recent report from the UCL Institute of Education confirmed that is the case in the UK. They found weekly break times had reduced since 1995 by 45 minutes for the younger children and by 65 minutes for secondary pupils. It also found a growing percentage of schools offered lunch breaks of less than 35 minutes.

Since that report was published the situation has got markedly worse.

I unfortunately listened to one of the government numpties in charge of our schools. He talked about the need to improvise discipline. Talked about children suffering during the pandemic as their grades might go down. It was apparently time to increase the school day, cut holidays. Allow the pupils to catch up with government targets.

Not once did I hear the numpty say the words health, wellbeing and happiness.

That’s no surprise. Schools are now strictly controlled. Teaching programmes, timetables, how pupils learn are set by the government. It’s all about grades. Grades in subjects that the government thinks appropriate. We here constant talk of a return to good old Victorian Values. But it goes further. As the end of school bell rings children are increasingly channeled into structured out of hours school clubs. Forced into completing hour after hour of set homework.

This eats into that precious free time. Time to socialise, to play, to free think, to dream. Time which is the child’s. Maybe that’s why child mental health issues and depression are becoming an epidemic. An epidemic without a vaccine.

Before the COVID pandemic kicked in I remember one particular school year. Hawklad has two really good friends in classes next to his. When I was at school I would get plenty of time to play each day with my friends, friends in different classes. Well that’s all change now. In that entire school year Hawklad never once spent time with his friends in school. Even at weekends organised school sport events made meet-ups problematic. The only time he met up with them was during the holidays. That’s a minimum gap of 7 weeks. 7 week blocks without seeing friends.

Remember the phrase. ‘Childhood should be your happiest time’. Is that still the case? Sadly not for too many.