FUN

Since I’ve been a parent watching my son go through the school system I have heard many things. Many things from those in charge of our school system. I’ve heard things like

The school day is too short

The children get too many holidays

We need to test and test again from as early as 5 years old

Schools fail not because of the system but because of poor classroom discipline

We need to bring back Victorian school values

Time off for bereavement is just an extended holiday for kids

Learning has to be about the needs of the economy

Teaching materials need to be carefully controlled so that pupils learn the right things

Smaller class sizes are overrated

Pupils taking a stand on climate change is really just an excuse to miss lessons

The school lunch break is too long

Pupils get too many breaks during the school day

Not enough children are taking part in after school learning activities

Not enough homework is issued

Ok you get the picture. Now ok I understand some parents will agree with those above statements but not me. I wouldn’t let this bunch of charlatans pretending to be a Government run a bath never mind our children’s schools.

But here’s the key thing. I’m hearing discipline, testing, work pupils harder…. One word I don’t hear is

FUN

What happened to childhood being the happiest time of our life’s.

Another word I don’t hear is

PLAY

What happened to childhood being about dreaming and playing.

Another word I don’t hear is

IMAGINATION

What happened to childhood being about dreaming and learning to think big.

Maybe that’s why we have such a huge mental health crisis amongst our young. Too much pressure. The world is changing rapidly so to me the last thing we need as a society is forcing our children through a factory school based system. Factory Education Farming based on values from over 100 years ago. It’s time to free up our schools. Let’s make schooling FUN again.

End of school year

We received an email from school. When the school reopens in September all COVID restrictions will go, in line with Government instructions. No masks, no support bubbles, no social distancing. Not the best time for Hawklad to potentially return. Hawklad who because of his anxieties will be looking for the reassurance of masks, space and safety measures.

How much social pressure will Hawklad be under to ditch his mask. Too much. It’s like the idea that he would put up his hand in class and ask for help with reading words. As much as he needed the help, putting that hand up in front of 30 other pupils was never an option.

It’s such an unnecessary mess.

Together

Here in the UK we are apparently all in this together. We all need to make sacrifices. The Government fought tooth and nail against attempts to extend free school meal support to help the thousands of children living in poverty in my country. The Government cut £4B from the overseas aid budget, aid aimed at the poorest around the world. They have cut benefits to the poorest in our land. I could go on and on. We are in this together.

In separate and unrelated news the Government has topped up its very own wine collection. Over the last year the Governments wine cellar holding has been increased by £26000.

We are in this together. Some of us are more in than others.

Emails

Three emails from school over the last few hours. Kinda sums up the the modern world. The first two emails informed parents that more pupils had tested positive for COVID. Close contacts had been identified and told to isolate for two weeks. The rest of the school was still open and pupils are still NOT required to wear masks in school in line with Government policy.

The third email was more specific. In Hawklad’s Class yet another student had now tested positive for COVID. The Class would have to now isolate as well.

The number of cases in English schools continue to rise at alarming rates. I really hope that the pupils recover quickly and they are not in the 10% of children who develop long covid or end up in hospital with serious complications.

This is real. This is happening in my countries school’s today.

Odd choice

Thousands of years of history. A world of unique and fascinating areas for schools to study.

Hawklad’s favourite subject. He loves absorbing and living bygone places and events. Already he has an in-depth knowledge of Britain’s Kings and Queen’s dating back before 1066. He’s pretty hot on the Roman Empire. During lockdown he has developed real expertise in Hitler and German fascism. These all were developed largely without school help.

Now he us keen to expand his knowledge into ancient Egypt and the French Revolution.

It would be nice if the school system would run with this desire to learn. Sadly the UK state school system has developed a Henry Ford approach. You can have any learning as long as it’s only the one that is imposed on pupils. One learning fits all approach.

So what subjects will school history focus on for the remainder of his schools days.

Russian Tsars – ok Hawklad can live with that one

American Wild West ok

Victorian Crime and Punishment……

I’m sorry he has zero interest in that. Learning graphic details of the Ripper Crimes is not his thing. He struggles to even think about this area due to his anxieties. Effectively a third of his best subject course and exam is likely to cause him severe stress.

Of all the fantastic areas they could have picked and they went for this. When did History effectively become Criminology. So a complete school stay and no European history (apart from the two world wars), no ancient history. Here’s what really bugs me. Hawklad’s school history has failed to look at some of the great historical figures. Nero, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Martin Luther, Louis XIV, Charlemagne, Constantine the Great. Nothing. Yet Jack the Ripper gets shed loads of focus.

Some might want that, but many won’t.

Here’s a radical thought. Let the pupils have discretion to pick from a wide range of subject interests. That’s how you great a true lifelong spirit of learning.

Stormy weather

It’s stormy here. Has been for over 24 hours and more to come. Sadly more storms might be heading our way.

I wish I didn’t have to keep going on about the Government. But every day, every day they strike again. This time it’s that all formal COVID restrictions will be lifted. In two weeks it will come down to individual choice. If you want to observe social distancing or wear a mask on public transport then you can, but you don’t need to. This is at a time when variant fuelled infections are rising. Currently at 27000 new cases per day. The so called Prime Minister is talking about 50000 new daily infections by the time restrictions come off.

Let’s not be under any illusions now. The plan in England is for vaccinations plus herd immunity to keep ahead of COVID-19 . Banking on vaccines staying effective while purposely infecting as many of the young as possible. It’s a massive gamble when you remove all the other restrictions that are designed to keep COVID under control. We just don’t know how long vaccines stay effective. We don’t fully understand the long term impact of COVID on the body and brain (10% of cases lead to long lasting symptoms). We don’t know how long vaccines will stay effective against variants.

As many scientists and doctors have pointed out. Variants accelerate when a virus is rapidly spreading. Like now…. England has become a giant Variant Factory. You should only release restrictions when virus numbers are under control and are LOW.

It’s a mess.

A mess when those in Government openly talk about not needing to wear a mask because the are vaccinated. They completely miss the point. Masks are primarily there to protect others. To reduce the risk of you spreading the virus to others. To those at higher risk, to those who the vaccine is not working effectively, to those who are not vaccinated, to our unprotected children.

So I’m not ditching my mask. No way…

Schools Masks

On the radio I have just heard a politician describe those who are advocating a rethink on school Covid safety as ‘left wingers playing politics with our kids future’. Apparently schools are perfectly safe and don’t need any form of additional safeguards. Items like masks are not needed and are an infringement on civil liberties. Parents should listen to those that know the facts……

Ok I am just your average muppet single parent. What do I know. How can I possibly doubt the Government’s decision to remove masks from schools.

Shall we listen to the Independent Science Advisory Group. Independent Sage concluded that “don’t think we can do anything but conclude that this government is seriously carrying out its herd immunity policy through natural infection, through school children.”

Or shall we see what a leading World Epidemiologist thinks. I’d rather listen to him than some trumped up politician who plays politics.

Mobile

There is so much wrong with my countries education system. Teachers aren’t allowed to freely teach as they are told what and how to teach by the Government. Headteachers have to follow instructions from above. Parents are threatened with fines by the Government. Government policy discriminates against those fantastic kids who don’t fit the mould set by the Government. Most school classrooms are overcrowded set in ancient buildings that are not fit for purpose and have next to no ventilation. The country has the highest class sizes in Western Europe. Historically our schools have been a haven for spreading bugs rather than spreading hope. Covid cases are rising rapidly in school age children, up by 80% in one week. Over 10% of children with Covid end up in hospital or develop long Covid. That is at a time when Covid safety rules on things like masks have been removed in schools. It’s as if the Government are intentionally trying to infect as many children as possible. There is a massive mental health crisis amongst our young at a time when cuts have left services at breaking point. Thousands of children are going hungry, living in poverty.

So much for the Government to act on. So what is the priority. What is the one thing the Secretary of State for Education wants to focus on…

Stopping pupils using mobile phones in school. Apparently they think there is a behaviour problem. Yes there is. NOT in schools, it is in the Government. It starts with the Prime Minister and infects those at the top.

Talk about skewed priorities. But what do we expect from this Government led by Boris Johnson. What do we expect from a Secretary of State for Education who proudly has a horse whip on his desk.

Our children deserve better than this.

The sooner we get rid of the cesspit in charge of our country the sooner we can start to build the future that our children deserve.

Anxieties

Is traditional school based education possible for every child.

I’m thinking more and more about that.

Trying not to go over too much old ground but Hawklad has been off from school since March 2020. A combination of school lockdowns and extreme anxieties. Anxieties about health, about viruses, about people, about crowds.

He is really fortunate to have a Child Psychologist working with him. The Psychologist is clear that one of the biggest tasks Hawklad is facing is to start to unpick all these anxieties. See which ones can be addressed in the short term and those that are deeper engrained or are a part of his personality. This is a difficult at the best of times but trying to do this during a pandemic is a nightmare. And most certainly real progress on some of his health and virus anxieties will not happen while people need to wear masks, while their is still so much uncertainty and while people are catching the virus in their thousands each day. Yesterday here it was 27000 new cases and still 1800 in hospital. Sadly 22 deaths yesterday.

The Government is clear. Children have to return to the classroom immediately. Schools should not encourage homeschooling. Schools are perfectly safe. School COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly. At present there are over 400 confirmed cases in the country with somewhere between 10 and 20% experiencing serious symptoms or encountering Long COVID implications.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of schools being open with no additional safeguards one fact is clear. There are children out there who have severe anxieties or have underlying health conditions who shouldn’t be in school right now. We are fortunate in that we have a medical note that rules out a return to school at present. Many are not so fortunate.

What could be

I walked past this tree and was thinking about what could be. What still could be.

I was listening to the self absorbed numpty who is frighteningly in charge of our countries schools. He was saying that children needed greater discipline and should work harder to catch up with the targets the Government had set for them. He had just announced that pupils would be banned from having mobile phones in school. They need discipline. Which is interesting as that doesn’t apply to members of the Government. For security and probity reasons Government Ministers are not supposed to use private mobiles and private emails for official business. Well guess what. Apparently they all are breaking the rules and they don’t care. They are above the rules.

Anyway this numpty was waffling on about how pupils should focus on the subjects the Government are pushing. They needed to learn the areas that are selected for them by those above them. Yes they can have options but carefully selected options. Options that are in the interests of economy. It was time focus on the important stuff.

So if Hawklad stays in school from next year he will have to study. English, Maths, Science, Religious Studies, Citizenship. From a really narrow option choice he will also study History, Geography, Design and Computing. Within those subjects the range of areas covered and the sources of learning materials are carefully controlled.

But here’s the thing. If it was Hawklad’s true choice then this is what he would study.

History and history and history and history. He would also study Maths, English Literature, Geography, Archeology, Geology, Animal Husbandry and Zoology. He is keen to pick up those computing skills he needs but on his own terms and at his own pace. Religious studies is something that he believes should be on his terms and not predetermined by someone else.

See there is a difference. An important difference and maybe that difference holds the key to why his country is in such a mess. Why his country is so inward looking and narrow minded. To me that says everything.