Back this week!

So much space…..

So all the schools are back this week. With some changes. A bit more of an encouragement to wear masks. All pupils to get a couple of rapid Covid tests per week. A test which gives inaccurate results in potentially 1 out of every 5 tests. But let’s not mention the giant elephant in the rather cramped classroom.

Most children and staff will be returning to classrooms in a country with rapidly emerging virus mutations without mandatory masks, in rooms likely to have really poor ventilation, with pupils definitely and staff probably without the security of a vaccination. And here’s the elephant entering the already cramped room. The PM has been doing repeated photo opportunities in classrooms. In carefully selected modern classrooms containing only a handful of children. Lots of space. But that’s not the reality for most schools. Too many are squeezed into small spaces. Nothing has been done to reduce the high classroom numbers. Not one thing. If Hawklad was returning then it would be to a class size which is between 30 to 32 pupils and 2 members of staff. In a building which is well over 50 years old.

Please tell me how this is a good idea.

Frustrating

The sun goes down on another school at home day. It was one of those days where it feels like for every step forward we took two giant steps back. Such hard work.the really frustrating thing is that it wasn’t the actual learning which was the issue today. No the frustrations came from repeated system crashes, missing content, confusing instructions, formatting disasters and online tests that will only work with exactly the right spelling and format.

We can make home schooling so much easier for the pupils than this…

So with the frustrations still ringing in my head another school communication arrived. All about the required Covid testing to support the schools reopening next week. Each family will be required to self test families using the rapid result kits TWICE a week. On top of that all pupils will be tested with the same kits once a week in school.

My one question is that if our schools are completely safe and not hubs for virus transfer (according to our PM) – why is this level of testing required…..

The school letter also apologised to parents for the confusing over masks in the classroom. A few days ago the PM told schools that masks had to be worn in the classroom. Our school wrote to parents to inform them of the new rule. Unfortunately the rule has now changed again. The PM has now said they are only recommended and school can’t enforce them.

More frustrations……

Monday morning

A Monday morning. A school at home Monday morning. Don’t you just love them….

Dad have you got your thinking hat on yet….”

Do I ever have my thinking hat on

Not really Dad but it’s another view on a tough question

Ok I will make a hit drink and prepare myself…

Ok I’m braced now. Hit me with the question.

How do you spell Trigonometry?”

Oh is that it. Wow I thought it as going to be a shocker. I’m almost happy. I can Cole with that. Life is good. Hang on why are you giggling….

That’s not the question, thought I’d trick you”

Pants. You got me there. Ok what’s the real question.

Its Religious Education. I have to discuss sexuality and homosexuality. What are the various religious views and discuss.”

Wow…

Dad I think you would call that a 3 coffee question.”

It’s definitely is and it’s definitely not a question for an early Monday morning.

Sunset

What a lovely sunset.

Last night Hawklad reminded me that this Sunday last year was when we first talked isolating. I remember it quite well. A Sunday evening. I was sorting out the school bags for Monday morning. Hawklad came into the room and asked how did we know that this new virus wasn’t already in school. How did we know the bus was virus free. Should we stay off school until it passes. I tried to reassure him but I could sense his anxiety. I emailed the school to let them know that he was anxious. When he’s anxious it can throw off his ability to sit still and concentrate.

He did get to school the next day but not by school bus. He asked to be driven in. A few days later school proved too much for him and our family lockdown started. Soon the world changed.

It’s odd looking back. Its hard to believe that we have been isolating for nearly a year now. I wouldn’t have dreamed that I could have coped with that much isolation fit that long. A world suddenly constricted to our garden and house.

But we have…….

We can do this.

Sweet Spot

The lake is going, going, gone….

It’s been a busy old day. Much multitasking.

  • Cleaning out the cat tray,
  • Darning holes in jeans,
  • Trying to reassure,
  • Baking bread and some small buns,
  • Cleaning the toilet and bathroom floor,
  • Explaining probability to Hawklad,
  • Hair cutting,
  • Trying to figure out why the dishwasher had stopped cleaning,
  • Putting a new belt onto the hoover,
  • Removing a pet related stain from the sofa.
  • Changing the bedding,
  • Ordering ingredients for next weeks school at home cooking project,
  • Trying to measure Hawklad for new clothes,
  • Trying to make an omelette which is approaching edible.

At work multitasking was so valued. Multitasking usually in areas you might be good at or at least competent. Maybe backed up with some training and clear process guides. At home, my home, it feels very different. Yes it’s multitasking but never in areas I’m good at. Often feeling like I’m not even vaguely competent. Constantly having to refer to incomprehensible instructions, Google searching for help videos or just looking blank as I kinda just wing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have things I’m good at. I’m ace at saving Football penalties. I can smash into Rugby tackles. I can bowl a mean leg break. I can climb rock faces. I’m an expert on Godzilla and the X-Files. I can recite almost word for word every Fawlty Towers and Captain Scarlett episode. I rock cycle shorts (ok I made that one up). I can balance unfeasibly large numbers of coins on my elbow and then catch them one handed. AND I’m one of the worlds great air guitarists.

These are all great talents but strangely have not yet been required in my single parenting career. I wonder why? 🤣😂 But I live in hope. One day one of those skills might just be required. Then I will have found my parenting sweet spot. A task I can excel in. No need for instructions or help. No vacant look or red mist descending. That reassuring feeling of ‘I’ve got this’. How good will that feel….

Weather

It’s horrid weather today so let’s go back a few weeks. That’s better.

I heard someone from the Government brush off a parent talking about her daughters genuine fears and phobias about returning to school. Her daughter doesn’t think her classroom and school is safe enough. From the sound of it her daughter is in a similar place to Hawklad. Really struggling. The interviewer cut off the parent saying that she was in the minority and the vast majority would see things much more positively. The message from the Government followed instantly. People and kids who had concerns and fears needed to listen to the majority. Schools are completely safe, just get on with it. Parents have an obligation to send their children into schools when they open.

Meanwhile back here the NHS Psychologist is just at the early stages of a treatment programme to try and help with Hawklad’s deep seated anxieties. No guarantee that the programme will ever work. This week’s task is for Hawklad to try and stand in the front garden for 1 minute. The message is don’t worry if you can’t do that. Even a few seconds will be a massive leap of faith. And if he can’t do it at all then we can try another week. Pushing people with significant fears and ingrained anxieties can do so much harm to their long term mental health.

The Government and the ‘Majority’ are not trained mental health practitioners. They have absolutely no idea what some people are going through. On this issue they can stand out in the rain and whistle for all I care.

Frustration

It looks like Yorkshire. It feels like Yorkshire. Its moody, dark, windy and cold. It is Yorkshire. Some places are perfect for growing olives, oranges, pineapples and coconuts. The climate in some places are just perfect for fantastic wine. Here in Yorkshire the climate is perfect for Rhubard…..says it all doesn’t it.

How difficult can a Science test be.

The answer – a nightmare.

40 minutes to complete 20 questions. Sounds easy. Questions about Pressure, Force, Springs and Moments. Not easy for Hawklad but seemed to get there. Worked stuff out in his head. But that’s only part the story. The real story is trying to get the answers to the teacher. He can answer the questions in his head but then struggles to record them. It’s such an effort to type or write for him that he losses the answers he has in his mind. He can confuse himself or just forget. Even trying to write and type as he goes along doesn’t work, it seems to disrupt his thinking. Ends up going round in circles.

The other option is a scribe. But talking out aloud makes him nervous and makes it harder for him to answer correctly. Often what he describes is different to the answer he has visualised.

How frustrating must that be.

It’s a plan

So the Government has set out the way forward. A roadmap. Starting with all schools opening on the 8th March with parents able to play golf or tennis is socially distanced way as soon as the school buses have left the street. Ending with getting the bunting out just before summer with every adult having been offered at least one shot of vaccine and virtually all restrictions lifted. That’s the plan.

This time they have introduced some gaps between the various stages to check on the impact. It’s an improvement on the first lockdown release. Not great but an improvement on the last shambles.

I’m already hearing people talk about booking summer holidays, binning the masks, going to nightclubs. The message is ‘soon it will be over, we will have won….’.

Sadly I’m not convinced yet….

  • Schools are being fully reopened against the advice of many of the Government’s own scientific advisers. Reopened with no meaningful additional safety measures put in place.
  • No plans to prioritise front line groups like teachers or police for vaccines. Apparently this will just complicate things.
  • No thought given to the Health and Care sectors that have been stretched to breaking point for a year now. They can’t keep functioning like this.
  • No plans for under 18 vaccines at all as schools are ‘perfectly safe’ and the kids can develop herd immunity without getting too sick. Yet no mention of the increasing number of under 18s suffering long covid symptoms. No mention of school outbreaks that are already happening even with 3/4 quarter empty schools. No mention of overcrowded classrooms with no ventilation. No mention of the scores of children going down with associated diseases which have been brought on as a result of a seemingly mild Covid bout. No investment in home schooling resources to take pressure off classrooms and create another avenue for education – just threats of fines for parents.
  • The plans assume that the vaccine is the way out of the crisis. No mention of virus related mutations becoming resistant to the vaccine. A real risk when you have high infection rates and delayed second shot vaccine delivery. The vaccine is good but it’s not 100% effective. Plus we just don’t know how long the protection will last for in individuals.
  • The plan is in tatters if a change in the virus makes current vaccines less effective. In that increasingly like scenario the vaccine programme has to completely reset and start again.
  • No thought on making changes to how we work, study and play to make them safer going forward. We seem to be happy going back to the status quo which so spectacularly failed only a year ago.
  • The plan assumes an acceptable level of Covid infections and casualties. This is not a zero virus plan.
  • No mention of the mental health crisis facing young and old in this country.
  • The Virus will still be here…..

So no I’m not planning for a pandemic free future just yet. I hope we are fortunate and the plan does work. But when do things ever go to Plan.

Pop Art

And still it shrinks. I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.

Back to school at home and back to the daily fun…. Started with the usual happy pep talk from a teacher. To paraphrase.

‘Remember I’ve set some work before the week off. It’s voluntary but I can see what people have done and how long you have spent on it. I am checking….I’m about to do your assessment….”

Ok….

Then I accidentally phoned the school. Who hasn’t done the ‘put the mobile in your back trouser pocket just to see how long it takes for your bum to unlock the phone and dial a number’ trick. The mobile can’t have been in the pocket for 2 minutes before suddenly I heard a strange voice coming from my nether regions. How is it that it takes me hours to figure out how to unlock the mobile, find the phone app, then repeatedly fail to type in the number. Yet my butt can unlock the phone and successfully call someone in a fraction of that time…..

So after I had apologised to school reception it was back to the usual fight with submitting pieces of work and trying to find the class work on Teams. Fights with explanations, hidden meanings and unclear instructions.

Quickly followed by the ritual Dad humiliation.

Dad apart from Andy Warhol what other Pop Art practitioners can you name.”

Erm……..

Ok can you at least name a few famous Pop Art pieces and before you say it, NO Godzilla doesn’t count.”

Erm there was that picture with about 100 Madonna’s replicated.

Dad. You mean Monroe and it was 50 times…”

That’s the one. Then there was the soup tin. Erm Andy Warhol was in Men in Black 3, does that count?

So basically no help…….

But maybe my backside could become Pop Art. Probably not. Not sure how big the canvas would have to be to get 50 replicas of my butt on. But if they could then I could literally be sat on an important piece of avant garde culture. Sat on a fortune.

Blink

Blink and it’s gone. Blue sky.

I remember back to my school days. Apart from living in caves and avoiding the dinosaurs, I was like most kids. Some stuff went in to my head easily, other stuff not so easily. Stuff about Physics, Mathematics and Geography went in. Subjects like History the dates would take a lot of effort to stick. Subjects like Chemistry I was ok. However French I was awful, it might as well have been a foreign language…. Biology I was not much better.

Today I was trying to help Hawklad understand Chemistry. He struggles to visualise chemical reactions. So trying to calculate reaction energy levels was a nightmare for him. Whatever we did he just couldn’t see it. That’s the thing with Hawklad, maybe that’s the thing with his Aspergers. He gets blind spots. They go beyond the dyslexia issues. With dyslexia if you read out the word then he can understand what he’s trying to learn. But these nothing seems to shed light for him. Some things he just can’t process and visualise. With a subject like French it’s a massive blind spot. History there are zero blind spots. But with other subjects he can understand most things really well but randomly encounters these blind spots.

Mathematics it’s decimals and volumes

Biology it’s cell structures and names

Design Technology it’s visualising 3D designs

Geography it’s grid references and grid lines

Physics it’s magnetism

Home Economics it’s cooking times

And Chemistry is chemical reaction equations

He can be going along swimmingly then encounter one of these areas and it completely stops him in his tracks. We kind of ignore them now. Blink and move on. Focus on all of the many areas he can make progress on. Hope that the blind spots don’t come up too many times in his main exams.

At the moment that’s our plan.