Who knows

Dog really wants to walk through that. I’m not so keen. Who wins the battle of minds.

I’ve got wet feet….

So the schools are here are due to go back next Monday. The hospitals are full to busting. Infection rates are rising fast.

The Government says the situation is in hand. The scientists and doctors are pleading for more action. They want schools to stay closed and use online education for a few weeks. The Government is resisting the move to that. They might stagger the return over a week with a good portion of pupils back in 7 days. They want to test all pupils with the unreliable, quick results method in the first week. That’s the answer apparently.

So as I’m writing this most parents just don’t know what’s happening next week.

I guess it doesn’t effect our little family that much. Hawklad is not starting back next week anyway. He just can’t. Maybe more online support will be opened up. How knows. We just have to make the best of it. Go with the flow.

It’s all such a huge mess.

No one ever asks

It’s been a little wet over the last few days. The sheep have got themselves a couple of paddling pools. We might give those a miss. I guess no one will be to upset about that.

I have a questionnaire to fill out about school and it’s services. Looking at lots of areas.

Teaching quality, subject material, classroom facilities, school meals, communication, discipline, bullying, uniform, school transport, sports facilities, IT, websites, outside clubs…..

Lots and lots of areas. So many questions.

What’s revealing is not the questions being asked but those which are not asked. Ones which are never asked. Questions about Autism and Aspergers support. Dyslexia support. Learning Disability support.

No one ever asks. It’s not just our school. It’s across the board. No one ever asks. We live in a world driven by performance measures and league tables. Yet no one ever asks….

I wonder why that is.

Fence

Which side of the fence is best?

I had a call with Hawklads new health specialist. She will (pesky pandemic dependent) come out to see him for the first time in January. Continuity is so important for someone on the spectrum. It takes time to earn trust and confidence. Those bridges when they come down are slow to be rebuilt. Having had a wonderful health lead for three years we are now in a spell of meet one, quickly see one disappear. Fingers crossed this time.

It’s clear what the medical opinion still is. Any meaningful progress is extremely unlikely until this virus is well under control. When it’s clear that the vaccine which has been administered works effectively and does protect. Only then can any progress be realistically contemplated. Prepare to bunker down for 2021. 2022 might be the first gateway to a more open life for our little family. I also have to accept the risk that progress does not happen for Hawklad. Bridges are not built. This is the new world.

I remain clear. It’s Hawklads life. He makes the call. I will support which ever route he goes down.

So will he return to school in January? Most likely NO. Will he make it back before the end of the school year in July. Probably NO. Will he start the new school year in September. Definitely no guarantee.

It feels like we are in one side of a fence. The side that feels limited but safe. The other side of the fence opens up the world, broadens his horizons but…….

No surprise

Most definitely a nice change today….

So the end of term school report has arrived. When I say arrived I mean an email appeared informing me that the report was available online. After 3 hours of trying to get the app to work finally a unique set of parameters opened up the report. Fifth cup of decaf, third chocolate bar, complete packet of biscuits, the clock striking midnight and me threatening to hurl the laptop out of the window. All this worked.

So is the report a surprise! Sadly not. It’s as expected.

  • Just grades, target grades, performance and behaviour grades. A mass of numbers and seemingly random letters. Absolutely no narrative from the teachers.
  • No information on areas of weakness or plans of action.
  • No test scores. No work feedback.

Almost feels like one of those automated factory production cards. Cold, faceless, uncaring. So what do the numbers and letters tell me. Hawklad is still seen as low attainment. The work I’ve seen in a number of subjects not reflected in the expected final exam grades (another 2 and a bit years time). A subject where his last teacher told me that he knows the subject better than the teachers is marked as just about squeaking a pass. Another subject in which he regularly gets 100% on the online teaching app tests is listed as an expected subject fail. A handful of subjects listed as expected passes (most just the lowest pass grades). Bizarrely one of which is a subject the school want him to drop as they are not prepared to provide any additional help. No mention of why some of his expected grades are falling. No mention of what action is needed to reverse that.

No surprise at all really. For children like our son the approach is to set the bar low. No need to invest in potential then. Then any results at the end are seen as a real bonus. Evidence that the education system is clearly working 🤯. What that really means is too many are left to stagnate. Too many are let down by the system.

So yep no surprise at all.

Bored

It’s truly awful outside. Even by Yorkshire standards it’s grim. So let’s go back to blue skies. Even today the blue sky is there. Close by. Just need patience until it appears.

So we made it through another school term. A term of school at home.

Is survived the right word….

Last night a thought struck me. Just how few people I have actually physically met and talked to in that term. So apart from Hawklad the list I believe is…..

  • The postman and the occasional delivery person,
  • The delivery man (same one) who dropped off the washing machine and dryer,
  • The cashier at the local store.
  • Hawklads nurse counsellor,
  • The vet,
  • The receptionist at the pharmacy.

That’s it. Since September. Thought I had better pad that out a bit. So let’s add. Dozens of the farmers sheep, cows and the growing numbers of hooligan garden birds. But when you analyse it. These aren’t really meaningful conversations. Just passing exchanges of words.

Last year that kind of isolation would have completely spooked me. It now kind of feels like the norm. How it should be. That’s because IT IS the norm. It’s been like that since March. Will be for at least a good part of 2021.

Those cows and sheep are really going to get bored of me.

L

Last Day

Sun sets on another school term. Another term of schooling at home. The last day of term. Will the school give the kids a fun day?

Warning increasingly ancient person going to talk about ‘in my day’.

In my day, last day of term before Christmas was almost set in stone. All kids were told to bring one game in with them. The teachers would take the register and then leg it to the staff common room. That was it for the morning from them. It was said that it was teacher training and they should not be disturbed. It must have been some training session. The teachers kept going to their cars for wine, beer and mince pies. The teachers reappeared at lunch time after the training. The music teacher would be a little unsteady on her feet and the science teacher would be unusually friendly with the school cook. The teachers would then sit down and the school prefects would have to serve them the Christmas lunch. Once the teachers had been fed the rabble could then be let loose on the food. After lunch the school would wander down to the church for Christmas Carol’s. It’s amazing just how many kids can leg it during the course of a 200 yard walk. So with a much depleted school roster the Carol’s Service would start. Most of the teachers would fall asleep while the headteacher would stand at the church door to stop any further prison breakouts. After an hour even the headteacher would give up the ghost and the remaining children were sent home. The teachers would then stagger down to the pub to presumably continue the teacher training until the early hours.

ZERO school work was ever undertaken.

Will Hawklads school do the same. Will the kids be allowed to have fun with no school work?

Well to be fair one teacher sent an email saying that Hawklads class was watching an cartoon adaptation of a book in her lesson. She sent the link. That counts as zero work. Unfortunately the other classes didn’t play ball. Question after question. Read this, answer that, write this, explain that…. AND then homework was issued for the two week holiday.

Basically loads of work. ZERO FUN.

Sadly this was all completely predictable. But surely for just one school day they can let children enjoy themselves. To create some happy memories. Especially after all that’s gone on this year. Anyway in the words of Alice Cooper ‘Schools Out’ now, hopefully fun is now on the agenda.

Thinking

Listening to the rain and wind. It’s time to start thinking.

Yes I can do that sometimes. Not often granted but I do have my moments. This morning feels like a thinking day….

This is day time…..

The news has definitely brought that thinking time on. Our country has started vaccinating high risk groups for Covid. At present the process seems to be vaccinate a batch of people then give them the second shot a month later. Then move on to the next group. It might speed up if a more stable vaccine becomes available. The current one sounds as stable and as easy to use as one of my rice puddings. Which is not very stable. The vaccine probably tastes better.

They are planning is to vaccinate 26 million people in 2021. That hopefully covers the elderly and high risk groups.

Well Hawklad and me are not in those groups. We are quite low down the pecking order. In fact there are rumours that the under 18s may be the last to be vaccinated or maybe even not vaccinated if they have to start topping up those who have already been given the injections. Top-ups might be needed every year.

That has implications for our little family. Let’s assume that we both will get vaccinated. That will be in 2022…

So here is where it’s time to engage my nogging. That’s a local word for brain. The health professionals who have seen Hawklad agree that his anxieties have zero chance of easing before he thinks that we both can’t catch the pesky virus. Either the virus packs it’s bags and leaves. OR. That means getting vaccinated and having confidence that it is completely effective. So even after he has been vaccinated that’s not the end of the road. It’s just the start of another long journey of confidence and bridge building.

Before that happens we isolate. So in effect are we not isolating now for all of 2021 and well into 2022. That seems like a long time. Longer than the time we have already spent in our little family lockdown. What are the implications for Hawklad and his childhood. What are the implications for me.

That’s definitely a puff my checks out thought.

Time to think…..

After three

Today brought the return of awful weather. Cold, stormy winds, driving rain, really dark skies. Days like this are not great for living on a hill top….

School, school, school.

It’s just keeps on giving…..

I had an email exchange with school trying to explain to them that at this stage Hawklad doesn’t want to drop French. He does want to try some alternatives first. Spending part of the teaching time using an online language package which teaches him the basics. The stuff school seem to have stopped. With school its all about learning the various spellings for the various forms of all the French verbs. That’s not really helping. It’s never going to work with someone with dyslexia.

Anyway I was getting nowhere fast with our award winning school. Yes it won an award for excellence. When they dropped into the conversation some news.

The one teaching assistant who has done the most to help Hawklad. The one who asks if he is alright (the only one). The one who is happy to chase up work and queries for him. The one who chases up the other teachers when they forget about him. Is leaving in two days…

PANTS….

I dread to think what that will mean for Hawklads homeschooling. I do have a pretty good idea.

So let’s look out of the window and think about the weather and say again after three.

PANTS….

Help

This is my favourite place to put my hot drink mug. Just the right size. Nice height. Views over the farmers fields. It was kind of the people who built the house to put this here all those years ago.

Sometimes you just have to do things yourself.

I remember having a conversation with a leading clinical psychologist just before she retired. She told me about the UK Health Service and its approach to kids like Hawklad. She was so disheartened. Increasingly parents have to fight for any support. The Government (this government) are intentionally making it more difficult to access public services and receive support. The view from the top is that it’s not the responsibility of tax payers to fund these things. It’s down to the individual. The more you can afford the better the service you can secure. The psychologist warned me that as soon as Hawklad became a teenager the services which have been secured will start to ebb away. Reviews by ‘independent’ managers will suddenly find him just above the support threshold and he will be removed from the support list. When he gets to adult life she said the support would be completely gone.

Hawklad turned 13 this year so where do we stand…..

  • He hasn’t seen a Paediatrician in two years (was supposed to be every 6 months). He has dropped down the priority list and is at the wrong end of the waiting list.
  • Zero help from school on his dyslexia. The NHS is prevented from providing any support as it has to come from Education budgets now.
  • Zero help with his Aspergers. The psychologist was not replaced when she retired and the service is on hold (4 years now).
  • Zero help with his ADHD as he was reassessed as being above threshold.
  • He did receive physio therapy help with his dyspraxia. He was due to start a programme to help with his writing and keyboard difficulties. But two weeks before the programme was due he was seen by an Independent assessor (never worked with Hawklad before). After 3 quick tests which lasted 4 minutes he was assessed as being above threshold and the service was withdrawn.
  • Grief Counselling still officially waiting…
  • The last support he has is an anxiety counselling service. But sine his last wonderful support worker was moved on, the service has started to dwindle away. No idea when the next support session will happen. He’s unable to venture out of his house ot touch objects due to his anxieties BUT as he is not in physical danger then he is classed as a low priority.

Sometimes predictions come true.

Sometimes you have to do things yourself .

And finally

And finally……

Yes Yorkshire can have the sun. Ok I was slowly sinking into the mud but it was still nice. The problem with waterproof trail running shoes is that they work until the mud reaches the top of the shoe. Then it’s wet feet time…

I was writing to school to tell them that we would not be making a decision about dropping French until after Christmas. Then a thought hit me. Yes I have them occasionally. And this one didn’t involve cheese and onion crisps.

Hawklad has not been in school since March. Up to July he was like all his other classmates. After September he has been at home while his classmates have returned. I’ve had the occasional email asking if he needed anything from one teaching assistant. And one of the teachers has wrote asking about our decision on French. But that’s it. No one asking about his well being. No one asking when he’s coming back. No one asking about how much schooling he does each day. No one asking if I’m working on his dyslexia. No one asking about his Aspergers. Or his ADHD. Or his dyspraxia. The paediatrician hasn’t seen him in over two years.

Here’s the thing School only contact us after I email them. The health services only contact us after I hassle them. What would happen if I stopped making contact…..

In our case it’s not a real issue. But there will be kids out there struggling. In need. At risk. Is anyone checking on them.

I suspect not. That’s what happens when you cut services back to the bone. When you try to outsource everything.

Definitely an unsettling thought.