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.

Swiss Sunday

Grindelwald….and not that Harry Potter wizard version.

That’s some train station. Waiting for a train was never a bind here at Grindelwald.

I have a real soft spot for this wonderful alpine village. First time I came to Switzerland. Arrived late on a Saturday night. The first morning in alpine paradise, a time before Hawklad, we headed out by train to this very place. Arrived at this station. As it snowed, we caught a cable car and headed into the clouds. Wandered around a world that I had never experienced before. Feeling like you could reach out and almost touch The Eiger Summit. Grindelwald was the door that opened this amazing land to me.

When I find the photos from that epic first trip I will share more but here are photos from a few years later. 2013. Is it really 9 years.

That’s a golf course with a view…

Wow Hawklad was a lot smaller.

I can’t wait for that next bit of Grindelwald.

One way system

See what happens when you let part of the garden take care of itself….

I came across a news story about parents who had threatened to take their child’s school to court. The story may sound sadly too familiar. A really bright and popular autistic boy who did really well in his Primary (First) School. He struggled with reading but the teachers tried to support him. He found out that he was really good at maths. He loved music and started to play an instrument. The other subject he loved was languages, he was always trying to speak French. Because of his dyslexia the school had used alternative methods of tuition with him. Some didn’t work but importantly some things really worked. One was using a graphical and picture approach to languages.

Then he started Secondary School. He went from a really small school to a massive one with nearly 1000 pupils. Everything changed. Even though his previous school grades were good, he was placed in the bottom set. No attempt was made to evaluate his dyslexia or even help with it. Apparently ‘nothing could be done’. The school taught him in exactly the same way it teaches every pupil, even though it clearly wasn’t working for him. He really struggled in his best subjects as well. He lost interest in languages because he was falling behind with the way school taught the subject. He stopped playing an instrument because the music lessons were awful because of the disruptive behaviour in class. He became increasingly isolated and unhappy. School used the small extra funding he received to fund general teaching assistants who could never be dedicated to his need, they covered all the pupils in the class. Often they just focused on the pupils with the worst behaviour. The parents tried to work with the system. That failed so they tried to fight the system. Their lawyers eventually advised them that they had no chance of success. Apparently the school was following Government Policy, doing what was expected of them, following the set national curriculum. So they pulled their child from the school system and have started trying to homeschool.

It is sadly a far too familiar story. This is what happens when you try to force every child through the same educational production line. When teachers are not allowed to teach freely but are forced to teach in a set way. When school is all about the needs of the economy rather than the needs of the individual child.

It really shouldn’t be like this.

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.

Swiss Sunday

I was asked why we often stayed at the same hotel on our trips to Switzerland. Every morning, flinging open the bedroom curtains, standing on the balcony and you get this view.

You get this view.

That’s why…….

And the view at the back of the hotel isn’t bad at all.

I wish I could have that view tomorrow morning, maybe one day soon. Let’s hope for more adventures in all our daily life’s.

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.

Swiss Sunday

Just looking at a postcard I received this week.

One lucky soul had made it to Switzerland. Apparently it was a bit of a nightmare journey – that was just trying to get out of England. One of the many benefits of Brexit is clearly enhanced chaos and delays at the Border. A border which we had so struggled to live without for decades. I must admit a thought crossed my increasingly tired mind. We are most definitely on the wrong side of that new border. Maybe one day Europe beckons.

Looking at the postcard it reminds me that adventures are still there to be had. Switzerland is ready and waiting. Yes it will be a logistical and parenting nightmare getting Hawklad there, even more so these days. But it has been far too long since our last trip. Far too long. Wow we could do with those alpine days right now. Let’s hope it’s not much longer now.

Look but don’t touch

It’s been a long time….

Back before 2020 Hawklad had made fantastic progress. Not a natural socialite, even School was endured rather than embraced. Apart from one or two really close friends, he avoided large groups. But he pushed on. He forced himself on to do a few things he wanted to do even though it meant being amongst the masses. Sports matches, normally to see my so called team lose. Thankfully the wise young one picked a team that didn’t play in black and white to support. He could relax and laugh at his Dad.

The other thing he wanted to do was go to Rock Concerts. He managed it. Hood pulled firmly over his head and he found a way that worked for him. But then a pandemic hit. Alter Bridge and Shinedown was his last concert back in December 2019.

Everything then stopped.

2022 finds his fears and anxieties ramped up even further. But HE WANTS TO GO TO CONCERTS AGAIN.

So here goes.

With much planning, we find ourselves on a car journey right across to the other side of the country. A walk through a strange new busy city. Public Transport strictly avoided so we walked for miles to a football stadium. We waited outside for the right moment. A lull in the queues. We dived in. On the pitch and standing, that way we can control how close people get to him.

And with luck on our side Hawklad gets to see Echo and The Bunnymen AND THE ROLLING STONES. Yes it was crowded but we maintained a clear zone at all times. Yes I did have to get the elbows out at times to enforce that…. but the zone held. Years of metal concerts fully prepared me for that job.

A few hours later we are heading back home on the motorway. From Car to STONES to Car without Hawklad once touching an alien surface. But he did it. Hawklad a chatterbox telling me just how fantastic the Stones had been.

Here’s the sting in the tail. Poor Mick Jagger then went down with COVID a couple of days later. He may well have caught it doing this concert or in the city we had visited. That has been duly noted by Hawklad. But it’s still a step forward.