“Ok Dad, if I somehow manage to pass every exam then I think that probably means we should do something special to mark that.”
Absolutely and actually why should it be just dependent on the outcome of some random exams whose outcomes can be far reaching. Exams that are such a poor reflections of real person, their effort, the struggles they overcome, their character, just how amazing they are and just how much they have to offer.
So my mind wandered to what that prize could be.
And once again I was so far away from the answer.
“If I do that then can you look into getting me to Milan. Going to see Inter play at the San Siro. I don’t know how you would get me there, maybe we could try to get there using Switzerland as the base.”
Time to get the thinking hat on but I do know that our old Swiss base has direct trains to Milan each day. How cool would that be for Hawklad.
Sometimes you need to get out to breathe, take stock, maybe even forget a few things for a while.
In less than 2 months Hawklad’s final school exams begin. I kinda gave one of those Paddington Bear penetrating LOOKS to someone from his school when they referred to Hawklad having an easier exam ride than many other pupils.
Some won’t see a problem with what comes next and what do I know anyway.…
When the exams start, Hawklad will have 20 exams and one video assessment to complete in just under 4 weeks.
And that’s an EASIER ride. Doesn’t seem very easy to Hawklad.
It’s a hard life on the pet sofa. Boys will be boys.
I’m writing this in my so called car listening to a bit of deep and meaningful art, an art form called Whitesnake. Here is a random fact, that band’s lead vocalist worked in a fashion clothes shop which was next to my Dentist torture site. That Dentist was an ex army, old school medic and it showed. The caring nature of Rambo who has just found out that Arnie has much bigger biceps than him. That Dentist practice was horrible. But to be fair to him after every horrible, painful appointment he would make his one allowance to being a member of the human race. It was his attempt to be nice, to be caring. He would let you pick out a lollipop from the sweet jar, I guess it was all about keeping business healthy…
Anyway I’m parked up in a community library parking place. Hawklad is having his FIRST one to one, direct bit of teaching since March 2020. We have been after this since then but school just haven’t been able to free up teaching resources. Well now, two months from Hawklad’s final exams it’s happening. Unfortunately it won’t cover all the subjects due to teaching resource constraints, the sessions if they can continue will be sporadic. After Science, History and Geography were excluded from these sessions the focus was supposed to be on both English and Maths. Unfortunately school have dropped Maths now. Apparently someone has walked out on school and they won’t be replaced until after the exams.
But at least it’s something. Any helping hand is a good hand.
A Teaching Assistant will be providing a short session covering a bit of English and a bit of exam techniques. I wonder if they will cover any of the areas we have requested. I really hope it helps Hawklad.
Looking at Hawklad’s face as he went into the Library he had the same terrified look that I must have had visiting that Psychotic Dentist, just WAY WORSE. This is so not easy for him, he is so close to an anxiety meltdown. It shows just how little contact he has had with school staff, zero relationships have been established. It’s probably also a reflection of just how painful an experience this school has been for him.
Let’s just hope that like my trips to the dentist, he can put this behind him and actually he gets something out of it. In my case with the Dentist at lease I got some dodgy chemical filled fillings and a sugary lollipop. I want so much more for him. I just want him to feel at ease with life and be happy.
A new walk for the two of us in North Yorkshire, we are so blessed to live here. So many places to breathe.
Although I think these shelters aren’t going to be much cop against our tropical weather….
Three days since school returned from a week off and not one single communication from a teacher. Nothing. Maybe School has given up any pretence of supporting Hawklad now.
I was thinking back to how naïve I was just a few years ago. I kinda still assumed that life, parenting, everything, was perfectly logical, straightforward, fathomable.
Did I really think that.
What a monumental muppet.
Now I know. I know how I feel. Tired, confused, battered, walking through life’s avenues seemingly wading through unremittingly thick, bucket loads of treacle – seriously hard work.
Why was all this such a surprise to me, I just needed to look back at my parents. Bringing up 5 children, both parents having to work to try and make ends meet. Trying to maintain an old battered house which had an outside toilet and one coal fire for heating. The only holiday they enjoyed was the very rare day trip to the beach at either Saltburn or Whitby. I’m not sure they ever truly figured out their youngest child, ME, I was baffling to them. My parents trying to do all this while coping with a failed, dysfunctional marriage.
I bet they felt a lot like I do, like many of us do. Worn down, tired, disillusioned, perpetually bewildered.
If one word sums of the Yorkshire Coast, then that word is going to be BRACING….. A few brave dogs braved the North Sea but not for long. I lost a game of chicken and had to endure ice cold wet feet. That woke me up.
On the way back WE talked school. Sadly a school that is increasingly ‘missing in action’ as the May Exams fast approach, like an out of control Freight Train.
The more I see, the more I hear, the more I realise just how bad school has been for Hawklad. Looking back to when he was going everyday. He told me that he use to bin most of his pack up school lunches for two reasons. At least once a week he never got the time to eat lunch due to work requirements – I’m not sure a child going hungry is the best way to create an enriching learning environment.
The other reason, the MAIN REASON.
“Dad I used to get so stressed by school, so sad, so unhappy. I truly hated that place, I was scared of it. The teachers didn’t seem to care, the never noticed me. I was never allowed to be myself. It would make me sick, too sick too eat….”
Speaking with his NHS specialist, they can’t keep up with the tidal wave of child mental health problems in school.
How can this happen.
How have we got school so wrong, so stress filled.
Still no snow has shown up at our little hilltop village. It’s getting harder apparently to get the perfect conditions for snow in this part of Yorkshire. But just thirty minutes drive and we can get into the Moors. These Moors do get snow….. So a couple of weeks back we headed over to get some of that elusive white stuff. Night time is perfect, Hawklad gets the place to himself.
It’s only a short drive but you do feel so far from civilisation. No school here. These places are so special and wow the night sky. No light pollution.
This is what this looks like during the day and much later in the season. Perfect.
Perfect location for wonderful literature like The Secret Garden. The Secret Garden’s themes of rebirth and healing, we could all do with some of that.
As we wandered across the snow covered ground with just the light from our head torches to illuminate the way, it’s much easier to forget the trials of the day, well at least for a few moments. The school journey isn’t going well……
Minimal support, so it does feel like it’s a never ending fight against the system. What’s crystal clear now is that school has only given us access to a fraction of the course material over the 2 years Hawklad has been away from the classroom. With just a few months until his final school exams and he has so much to do just to catch up never mind revise. I genuinely fear that there is just too much to do in those few months. He simple isn’t going to get a fair chance in those exams through no fault of his own. He so wants to start college in September, to take the next step. Why is this so hard. Why is the system seemingly so keen to write him off without given him a chance.
Just a few moments walking across the desolate moors, forgetting all this, it does feel good. Sadly that feeling doesn’t last long enough. Two weeks on from that snow adventure and this schooling struggle is just getting harder and more frustrating. We could really use another snow adventure, find our own SECRET GARDEN.
“What is the point of this. Will I ever need most of the stuff I’m having to learn…..”
Not much at all…..
Parrot fashion, trying to cram in formula after formula, memorising orders, big words, diagrams, tables, definitions.
Today it was all about learning how to calculate half-life’s. Memorising the charge, mass, ionisation, equations for alpha, beta and gamma radiation. Trying to force in the ways to calculate SIN, COSINES and TANGENT, apparently learning the abbreviation SOHCAHTOA helps with that 🤦♂️😱. Then it was trying to memorise chemical formula for the production of photosynthesis, respiration and I don’t know what. Finally it was trying to have a photographic recognition of the teacher annotations for various random love poems. If I see any more references to enjambment or anaphora then I’m going to scream and I’m not the one trying to learn this rubbish.
What is the point.
So when Hawklad asked, ‘Did you learn anything from school that you could use’, what could I say.
Could I honestly say lots to set me up for life then. NO. Why are we doing this to our children. Is it for them or is it for others.
I remember one glorious Chemistry A Level lesson when we spent a lovely sunny afternoon outside while the science blocked was made safe after a gas fume leak. For some reason the Fume Cupboard had failed as we undertook some mind numbingly boring experiment, so we got the rest of the day off. Bart Simpson would be so proud if some one had pulled that prank off.
So did I learn anything from school, YES.
I learnt how to disable a FUME CUPBOARD. Now that proved really useful, I just wish Hawklad could find something similar.
Support from school seemingly dwindling away. A school report that had more gaps and missing information than a Donald Trump Tax Return. But at least I had booked video slots with each teacher on the Year 11 Online Parent Evening. A chance to get feedback, to give an update on how Hawklad is doing, to plan the next few months. Teachers spending time with every parent… well all apart from one parent.
Ok….. 20 minutes from the start of the first online teacher meeting and then an automated email from the booking system…
Our meetings had all been cancelled by School……
The reason from the Head of Year
They (some of his teachers) are concerned that; because they have not seen him in school for a number of years they do not have a great deal of feedback for you.
For a start the teachers have made no effort to contact him in two years, it’s been us trying to chase them. Hawklad has been diligently completing every piece of work that appears on the online school system, sending his work in, completing every single piece of homework that appears on the system, completing the tests and papers. He’s been doing that for two years. I’m sorry but the teachers should have more than enough feedback on that. The only conclusion is that most of his work has not even been looked at by school. The blanks on his report, the lack of any teacher marking on his work provide further evidence of that. Plus surely a teacher would want to know how one of their students is doing if they are not able to see that pupil in person. What’s going well, what’s not going do well. Find out if there is anything they can help him with.
So where does that leave Hawklad apart from having a school that doesn’t care. A school more than happy to pick up his state funding and then reallocate it to other budgets. A request for external support to be funded from his education funds was turned down just two months ago. The Head deemed that it wasn’t a priority for his limited budget..
So the Award winning School is down to one job now, arrange Hawklad’s exams, exam location and invigilators. That’s a nightmare to organise as a parent in this country. Even with that job school had to be forced into doing that, they clearly were considering not enrolling him for the exams. I’m trying to find out if they have even bothered talking to the Exam Board about Hawklad’s unique circumstances.
His education and exam preparation will be without school support. If school do try to help then it will be a bonus but we are not holding our breath. I will try to find ways to get him a place at a college which does not rely on these upcoming exams. If I can then I will give Hawklad the option of not sitting the exams. He really could do without the additional anxiety that this process is already starting to heap up on him. He is also at such a massive disadvantage in these exams compared to his classmates, almost like he is being set up to fail by school. Set up to fail not because of his abilities or hard work, but because he doesn’t fit the education system.
We are just 5 months from the final exams. Hawklad wants college as the next step forward in September. Maybe college in person, maybe home based. It’s all about helping him get there. Whether that’s via these pesky exams or through a Plan B, we shall see.
Just deleted the first attempt at writing this post. A nice, positive, happy post about School – NOT. For some reason I found myself writing far too many words with like #@#!ing or #!¥€ed or #@it. Words probably that would upset even the most relaxed Profanity Filter.
Must think relaxational music and meditational poses.
OK. Talk school another day when I’m just a little less like a seriously grumpy Honey Badger, let’s just say it was almost my Hulk Smash moment as a result of the School Parent Evening.
Time to talk Pets….
I have been conducting extensive scientific experimentation into the eating preferences of a mad dog. Everyday for 2 weeks I have put three types of food on his plate
Mince or Chicken (used to hide his hay fever medicine)
Cheese (used to hide his yucky dog medicine).
The results are clear. Every single time he scoffs the cheese and indirectly, medicine first. Then it’s demolish the mince or chicken. Finally and reluctantly he picks at the dog food. Clearly Captain Chaos has become a cheese monster, maybe he’s been watching too much Wallace and Gromit.
AND watching Wallace & Gromit is way more uplifting and constructively educational than Hawklad’s Useless School could ever be.
At last, some negative COVID tests. Finally the taste of coffee has returned, not fully, but I can taste it now. Spicy foods are still hit and miss, the strongest of curry flavours only produce a bit of a sweet taste but zero spice. With Hawklad his messed up taste is fish related. Prior to COVID he loved fish, now apparently the taste is horrid. Most bizarre. Plus an annoying, never ending, simultaneously blocked and runny nose. But in the scheme of things, luckily a seemingly minor bump into COVID.
As a result a very quiet and isolated festive holiday so far. Hawklad could really do with more social life with friends his own age. Maybe that can come if he gets to College in September. At least meeting with people who can master the rudimentary elements of FIFA23. A game most appreciated by Hawklad during COVID. To me it’s the gaming equivalent of Nuclear Fission and completely beyond my advanced levels of muppetry. How can randomly pressing four buttons and two triggers be so hard…..
In less than a week it’s over and pesky school is back.