UFO

Can’t see any UFO’s here.

This post was started about three months ago. Back then I had found an odd argument raging online about a Google Maps Image. One particular object on the satellite view was of much interest. It was either seen as a crashed UFO, some secretive Military Weapon or a Garden Trampoline. As it was clearly in someone’s garden then we might have the answer….

Frustratingly I didn’t save the Google Image, which kinda wrecks the point of the post. I know it’s not the same but here is another crashed UFO I have found in a garden. Why did it take Mulder and Scully so many series of the X-Files to find hard evidence of the an alien invasion when it took me 5 minutes on Google. Looks like every town and city has many of these crash sites.

Had to laugh today. One of Hawklad’s teachers has not sent him anything all year. We have made do by finding stuff on the schools online system and just hoping we are looking at the right things. Anyway, unbelievably that teacher sent Hawklad some stuff today. It was the marking scheme and answers to a mock exam that Hawklad is waiting to sit (still waiting for the questions to arrive). I always thought the questions came before the answers. School has changed since my days.

But many things puzzle me about school these days. Hawklad has had four other mock exams marked which he sat at home. The marks 85%, 75%, 66%, 65%. Clearly he takes after his mum as my exam scores often never exceeded my school age. Here’s the bit that puzzles me. School is still reluctant to move Hawklad from the bottom set, as that’s ‘the group they feel reflects his current attainment level’. Why do many schools as standard, pigeon hole pupils as low attainment purely on the basis of a term like dyslexia or autism or ADHD or ……. What happened to the idea of treating each child as an individual and seeing how high they can soar. No I don’t understand this, so I’m going back to something I understand far better. Crashed UFOs…..

Weeks

Why do my wheat photos always come out so GRAINy.

It’s BARLEY believable that I told that one. Might be the last STRAW for many.

Sorry….

10 weeks. Just 10 weeks before the start of the new school year. Hawklad’s last in this school with the delights of the final exams. Just 10 weeks now. Deep down, I realise it’s not enough time. Yes he has made great strides, even a concert. BUT. He’s so on edge when people get too close (within yards). He can’t touch alien surfaces. That’s outside, inside the issues are ramped up so much more. He can’t even stand in a shop for more than a few moments.

He’s a million miles from returning to the cramped classroom, sitting there for hour after hour. Probably too many miles to cover in just 10 weeks. If that’s the case then where does that leave us. Starting another school year at home with exams that he might not be able to sit. The antiquated UK school system just has no flexibility or desire to cope with that.

At least this pesky school year will be done in 4 weeks time. That’s 6 weeks of freedom from schooling. 6 weeks to be free to wander the fields. Good weeks but never enough good weeks before it all starts again.

Stuck in the middle

How did that old Stealers Wheel song go – Stuck in the middle with you…

Hawklad has done fantastically to start to overcome his dyslexia. He had found a way to read to the point that he now only occasionally asks for help but he still really struggles with handwriting and keyboard skills. He was due to get some help with that but the service was pulled basically because of national governmental changed priorities. School can’t provide any help as they don’t have the resources and the local education authority has drastically cut back special educational support. His Doctor thought about putting him on a health programme for support but the waiting list runs into years. Rapidly rising demand meets budget cuts…. Definitely feels like we are STUCK IN THE MIDDLE. Like most things, Hawklad and his muppet Dad will wing it ourselves.

Things are getting worse in this country, far worse. Special education and the support systems have become an easy target for budget cuts. For example the local council had to find a few million of savings so it slashed the Special Education Transport budget. On top of this health and schools are being stretched to breaking point with Covid. Many families are really struggling financially, they just don’t have the money to go private for support.

What worries me is just how many children with real pressing needs are just being left to fend for themselves. I had wrote ‘Forgotten about’, but that’s not strictly the case. Sadly they aren’t forgotten, they are just not a priority. That is unforgivable.

Settled

The weather is unusually settled here. The garden water tubs are nearly empty. What is going on, this is Yorkshire….

Not much of the much advertised heatwave so far. It finally arrived on Saturday and went Saturday. It was a bizarre day. Started warmish. Then just after midday the wind dropped and the temperature rocketed up. The garden thermometer hit 30C. Don’t laugh but that’s as far as the thermometer will go. Guess where that piece of technology was made. It didn’t have to travel too far… Yorkshire clearly doesn’t go past 30C.

But then just 4 hours later. We were outside enjoying an ice lolly and suddenly the wind picked up and changed direction . Within minutes we had to go inside for warmer clothes. It was Yorkshire cool again. A 4 hour heatwave…….

If only other things were settled.

Work is a nightmare as we are losing staff through COVID quicker than ever. Apparently it’s over……

Village life is in uproar as there are tentative plans to build houses on one side of the small village. How many. Well for a village of about 100 odd buildings, the idea is to add another new 130 homes ….. I can sense the pitchforks getting sharpened……

Car. The thirsty car now costs over £100 to fill up with diesel. The home fuel oil tank costs nearly £1000 to fill up now. Living is getting crazily expensive……

School mostly has disappeared. The work provided has in many subjects just completely dried up. Have they run out of things to teach Hawklad. Talk about feeling cut adrift…..

Yes definitely could do with some of that settled stuff.

Downton

The village went all Downton Abbey like last weekend. Can’t think why 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

Bizarrely we watched Downton the other night. Hawklad is rather taken by the whole thing. It’s fictionally set somewhere round here but filmed mostly outside of Yorkshire. Just like the cool start to an American Werewolf in London, that spooky Yorkshire Pub and foggy Moor was randomly filmed in Wales – clearly real Yorkshire is even TOO scary for a Horror Movie. The Earl, his family and servants keep visiting places right around us. It is most unsettling when they look nothing like the real place. They went riding just a few miles from us and I had a thought, I hope I remembered to pick up the mad dog’s morning constitutional poo. Would hate for the good noble family horse shoes to step in that.

It’s been one of those few days. Actually it’s been one of those few weeks. Not enough sleep, school issues, work issues, life issues, just ISSUES. Never stopping, running around in ever decreasing circles and actually achieving absolutely nothing. Where do those 24 hours go…..

So I walked through the village looking at the bunting while thinking, odds on that our mad dog will at some stage try to pull all that lot down and then bury it in our front lawn. Out of nowhere a villager stuck his head out of the village hall and shouted, “When are you bringing the cucumbers for the sandwiches”. This villager could have well been a head butler in a past life. A head butler with remarkably bad eyesight as his next words demonstrated. “Oh I’m sorry, you are not Margaret…”. Never been mistaken for a Margaret before. Never even mistaken for a woman. Even when I dressed in a full on and very well ventilated French Can Can costume and ended up walking through a town centre searching for the Uni Party, I was DEFINITELY NOT ladylike MOST DEFINITELY not mistaken for a woman.

Another brick….

A cold chill blowing across the Moors. It might be June but it’s feeling more like November. Spot the well hidden, very secret military listening base in the distance.

They hid that one well 🤣🤣🤣🤣

I wonder if those at the base will listen in to me having a rant about education, AGAIN. If they are listening well can you record the next message. Boris Johnson has blood on his hands, he’s taking us all for fools and he should be in prison….

Anyway I’m GNARLY today…..

School finally sent through a bundle of mock exam papers. No instructions, so I guess it’s work through them under exam conditions and send them back for marking. So poor Hawklad sat the first paper today. In the living room wearing his Ron from Parks & Recreation T-shirt. You never see Ron and Ned Flanders in the same room together – just saying.

Anyway back to the two hour home sat mock exam. We tried near enough exam conditions. No help, no books, no internet, no extra time. But he could get up and walk about. No need to put a hand up to go to the toilet. If he wanted to get a snack from the kitchen, he could. Exams stop children doing what comes naturally to them. Modern day Victorian enslavement.

I am GNARLY…..

After the exam I checked how it went….

Hawklad struggled. Clearly in this subject much of what has been taught in the classroom has not found it’s way here. You can’t revise if you not taught the area first….. Then we come to the exam paper wording. Do this and you fail, don’t do this and you fail, your not allowed to do this…. Is it possible to make the instructions more cold and foreboding. And then the question wording. They’re not exactly brief…. Not exactly clear. Misread one key word and you’re stuffed. The convoluted wording is often open to multiple interpretations but only one will get you marks. That is a nightmare for pupils under pressure and stress. That is a nightmare for those who struggle with reading skills. It’s a nightmare for kids like Hawklad who often interpret things in different ways, who can read most of the words but occasionally get the odd word wrong.

Hawklad talked about two questions in particular that really spooked him. I’m not at all surprised. I have a Masters Degree in this area, I’ve worked for years doing things covered in these two questions. One question involved working out an angle. A seriously complex problem to solve that I would describe as a two coffee solution. I would need at least two coffees to work this one out. How can that be a fair school exam question. The other question involved completing a technical drawing of a complex 3D shape. I’m not entirely sure I could ever do it by hand, maybe with an online drawing package. If your going to do this as a question surely you use a far simpler shape that gives the pupils a chance of completing while under pressure. Again….

How can this be a fair question….

Why do we let our children go through this. The stress of exams. Some are good in exams, many are definitely not. Countless studies have shown the negative impact exam pressure can have on mental health. And why, what are they trying to achieve. These exams are not about showing what the child can do, it’s about showing what they can’t do. Exams like this are setting many up to fail. It’s definitely not about finding the special talents that every single child will have. They are only about filtering out, child weeding based on such a narrow, arcane part of life. PINK FLOYD definitely got it right with Another Brick in the Wall.

Look at the state of those in charge of The UK and you realise that the education system just doesn’t work. It definitely doesn’t work for the children.

May

Glorious May weather here this week…..

Yes wet but still great for exploring our little part of the world. Even the mad one can always find things that stop him in his tracks….

School have agreed to book in a formal review meeting for Hawklad. He is supposed to get one every year but a pandemic rather messes up the normal. A lot has changed since the last one. COVID became a word. Hawklad taught himself to read. So let’s see what options school can give Hawklad for the final academic year. We need to see options for what happens if he returns to school in September. If he returns part time in September. If his return is further delayed. If he can’t go back at all. It’s one last push to get more support for him. An NHS Consultant has agreed to attend as well, definitely one last push on School. We are not entirely hopeful…..

The Government made a big promise about funding extra help to pupils to catch up following Covid, sadly it’s more hot air, bluster and fibs. Hundreds of millions can be found for a Royal Yacht but not for the children. There is another source of funding but school decided not to apply as they thought that there was little additional support that could be successfully offered to Hawklad. Rather frustratingly Pupil, Parent and Medical Professionals were not consulted……

NO, not entirely hopeful but let’s see what one last push can achieve.

Thunder

A couple of hours later and this quiet lane would have been a raging, torrential river. Huge thunderstorms. Too dark even for the iPhone to take a photo.

It’s been that kinda day.

Power cuts. No mobile phone signal. Even the satellite tv had no signal. Frustratingly for Hawklad, the school online system was still working. Work to produce revision notes on a topic that Hawklad had no idea that the rest of the class had covered a few months back. Oh the joys of the school at home project. The schooling system here is just not designed to be flexible for individual needs and circumstances.

Then another discovery. A moment of insight into a subject in which absolutely none of Hawklad’s submitted work (week after week since September) has ever been marked. Conveniently difficult to locate on the system, we accidentally discovered answer sheets. Apparently the pupils had to mark and correct their own work . That would explain things then. It will be one of those things where the teacher has explained that to the class but the message hasn’t made it over the internet to Hawklad.

One day we might get this right.

But then a more pressing thought. Why has the herd of cows that was sheltering next to our garden fence, seeking protection from electrical storm, suddenly decided to leg it to safety, seemingly as far away from our house as possible. What do they know. Maybe it’s time to hide under the table. But apparently not.

“Dad what do you expect when you have started singing Schools Out at the top of your voice. A voice that is scarier than my sock draw. Faced with that, no wonder the cows decided to risk lightening strikes to escape that awful fate.”

Definitely been one of those days…..

Sea

A sea of yellow.

If Captain Chaos made it in there, I’m not sure we would get him out this side of Christmas. If I played golf I bet my ball would definitely land somewhere in that.

So the home at school project is back. Over two years now. Wow two years.

It’s only been a two week school break but so much has been forgotten, by parent and pupil. Trigonometry was mastered, two weeks later it might as well be a cross stitching pattern. Intricate, perplexing, ultimately an unfathomable jumble. Forgetting things is very understandable with my Sinclair ZX81 of a brain (an ancient first try at a home computer which was as powerful as my left buttock). But Hawklad should be different, he has an amazing memory. No he can’t remember any Trig from two weeks back yet ask him about things that interest him and it’s almost PERFECT TOTAL RECALL. Remember stuff from years back. That’s the secret, stuff that interests him.

Sadly British Secondary Education doesn’t fall into that interest bracket……

Eggs

Still not feeling very Spring like.

Somebody’s been busy….

These EGGS make a cracking Egg and Soldiers. Mighty fine very local honey as well. Every few months the Bees do a mighty impressive fly past directly over our house. There is something much more regular than that. Every morning the Cockerel provides a morning alarm call at 6am. Not always welcome.

If only we could bribe the big fella to call out at other times. Hawklad would appreciate that. He really struggles to get the concept of time. Digital or Analog, doesn’t matter, he just struggles to tell the time. Sometimes he can work it out but it’s a real effort. Thankfully he can use his iPad to read out the time for him and to set alarms.

Unfortunately iPad audible alarms and time prompts are not allowed in the exams. Exam timekeeping will be a huge issue for him. So as Hawklad pointed out, “I wonder if they would rather me take the cockerel into the exam hall instead.”

Why not, I bet Cockerels are not specifically mentioned in the regulations.