On buying an ice cream

Sometimes I really do think that my ADHD is proof that ADHD is on the autism spectrum. I say this on the basis that I have never been able to follow the advice that everyone else I know seems able to follow without a second thought. That advice is this:

Pick your battles.

I simply can’t do it. While others ‘let things go’, I wage war on injustices be they minor matters or ones of life and death.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know I’m part of a team of people desperately trying to save our local school from closure. All the way through a minority of voices – powerful and influential though – have tried to tell us ‘not to make a fuss’ and to accept the inevitable. But we believe this is a battle worth fighting even if we lose. There will be a hefty rant of a post coming about this shortly, after the latest obnoxious and outrageous announcements from the governors and their vicious snarling dog on a leash, but not today.

What you don’t know is that I’ve been fighting three other injustices which range from trifling argument to taking on fearsome figures of authority – some in other countries. I fight all of them with an indignation and obstinacy that comes from so deep within that I couldn’t stop it if I tried. While others tell me to ‘let it rest’ my head can’t see it that way at all.

Me when I perceive even the slightest injustice (Source: powerlisting.wikia.com)

 

But I’m not going to speak of these either. Instead I want to talk of my anger about buying an ice cream.

Let me give some context to this (fast, lest you move on and think I’m barking mad) – Today I’ve been enjoying wandering around the streets of Gloucester. My family and I came down yesterday to stay with dear friends. We heard that ‘tall ships’ (think Pirates of the Caribbean) were at the docks and went down to have a look. Normally you can walk down on the quayside freely and enjoy the shops and restaurants there. Today you couldn’t. The entries were barred with railings and you were charged £2 for a wristband giving you entry or £6 if you wanted to go on the tall ships.

There was a lot of cannon fire today – mostly from ships like this one (Source: http://www.flickr.com)

I had no problem with this. It was a good way to make a lot of money because there were thousands of people milling around. The ships were beautiful and I imagine they’re not cheap to keep in tiptop condition. The Quayside was filled with marquee tents selling various things including one which sold exquisite cheeses which you could taste before buying. We bought three and are looking forward to devouring them soon. It was fun and it was good to see business booming all around. God knows we need it in this country battered by recession and ‘austerity measures’.

But the ice creams were a different matter.

Before we got to the quay my son (known in these pages as Thing Two) decided he wanted an ice cream from an ice cream van parked in the street. My daughter promptly wanted one too and we scraped together enough pennies for them to buy a simple cone of ice cream each for £1 per scoop.

But later, as we wandered along the quay, enjoying the sights and sounds, I fancied an ice cream myself. We wandered up to one of the ice cream vans parked inside the quayside area next to the marquees. I took one look at the prices and they were exactly as I could have guessed they would be. An equivalent one-scoop simple cone of ice cream was £3.50!

Smooth operation (Source: http://www.colourbox.com)

 

So that’s a mark-up of 350% simply for being in a special ‘festival’ area.

I know what you’re thinking – if you’re British anyway – ‘So what Ken? That’s just the way things are!’

You see that’s just the kind of attitude which makes me see red. It should not be the way things are. It is, quite simply, corruption. Worse, institutionalised corruption. I liken this kind of corruption compared with the supposed terrible corruption of countries like Bangladesh which I know so well to comparing bullying at state and private schools. In the former the kids will beat you up and flush your head down the toilets; in the latter the bullying is subtler, more psychological. Both result in the same devastating effect. In the same way, corruption in Bangladesh (reputedly one of the most corrupt countries in the world) is in your face and obvious. But in the UK it’s so deeply sown into our way of life we just don’t see it for what it is.

The idea that because you have a captive audience you can charge hugely inflated prices is a disgusting abuse of power. The opposite ought to be the way we do things. What these ice cream vendors do on the small scale is what businesses do every day in every way. When will we start to see business in a completely different light? When will ice cream vendors think to themselves “today I’m going to make a lot of trade because thousands will be here and business will be brisk. I know! – As I’m going to get a lot of trade today and operating costs will be minimal as a result I will lower my prices instead.”

Just imagine if we had gone into that fair on the quayside and ice creams were just 70p instead of £1? Or even just the same price?

What if all businesses operated that way? What if they attempted to make as little money as possible? Not through shoddy work or paying their employees poorly but by paying everyone a fair wage instead of inflated salaries and rewards for those at the top? What if instead of looking at profit margins as an indication of the health of a business we looked at how little they made as profit and how much their customer base grew or how satisfied customers were with the service?

I know, I know. It’s bonkers. It’s bad economics. But maybe if we started a revolution at the community level – the cottage industries, the entrepreneurs, the sole traders – where we looked not to getting a profit but to helping the maximum number of people we could with our skills, we might make a new form of economics. An economics based on taking enough for what we need for today and passing the rest on to those for whom today has simply not brought enough.

If my ADHD was responsible for all these thoughts just from buying (or not) an over-priced ice cream, thank goodness, one of those aforementioned real battles didn’t come my way today – I would have gone in guns blazing! I walked away from the ice cream charlatans on the quayside and was able to make sure the only guns blazing were the cannons firing from the tall ships. But I only just managed it.

Fair point… ( Source: http://www.ebay.com)

 

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A Kids’ Eye View of Homeschooling

D K Powell:

Just catching up with life after enjoying a lovely time celebrating my birthday. It is good to get rid of last year’s fiasco of a life and hoping this next year in my life will be MUCH better.

Before I get around to writing my own post, I thought I’d share this for all those of you thinking about home schooling. Here’s the pros and cons in the voices of the kids themselves from one homeschool mom.

Enjoy!

Ken

Originally posted on A Homeschool Mom:

A_Kids_Eye_ViewWe often hear adults sharing their views on homeschooling. Most of us weigh in with our thoughts, opinions, and experiences. But, how often do our children get a voice? When are they allowed to share their thoughts on the whole homeschooling thing? Well… how about now?

My four kiddos: They’re silly, creative, adventurous, mostly obedient, and the sweetest bunch you’ll meet. When they aren’t talking your ears off, they’re usually sitting in a corner with their noses in a book or creating something which baffles this adult’s mind on the computer. Today, they’re sharing their thoughts on all things homeschool. (Take it with a grain of salt!)

What We Like About Homeschooling

  • We don’t have to go to ‘school’.
  • We don’t have to wake up early.
  • We don’t have to have vaccines.
  • No homework.
  • We can skip stuff.
  • No school uniform.
  • We don’t have to worry about getting in trouble with the teacher.
  • We don’t have…

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More observations about ‘The Boy’

D K Powell:

I’ve shared a post or two before from this wonderful woman who writes witty and telling posts about motherhood. They are genuinely worth reading and the blog is worth following. I’m not just saying that because I know this woman personally and I’m immensely proud to have once been her teacher – honest!

Seriously, go read this; then read some other posts from her; then follow the blog. If you’ve ever had a child you’ll know where Nicky is coming from.

Originally posted on How I Survived Your Childhood:

Now he is past the 6 month mark he is starting to become a real little person. He laughs, cries, and has the strangest facial expressions ranging from judgemental to flirty to ‘I think I just poo’d out my intestines’. He knows what he wants, but he just can’t quite get it, either because mobility is still illusive or because his communication is still a little on the ‘scream until the thing I want happens’ side.

He is trying his best to learn how to crawl. So far he has managed to get onto his front, push himself up into a position most Yoga enthusiasts would envy and raise his hips off the floor for all of around 1 second. This is where it goes downhill. Literally. He has a few options at this point, he either tries to tuck his knees up and end up sliding backwards, or completely…

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The Battle for St Bees School: Five tales and one old, old lie

“My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori”

Wilfred Owen

 

So ends one of the most famous anti-war poems of all time. After describing the true horror of what war means, Owen finishes his piece with an important and telling statement: that it is ‘sweet and fitting to die for one’s country’ is an old lie and one we cannot believe any longer.

Yet we do. It is the British way. Stiff upper lip in the face of adversity. We will drink our sherries and the quartet will continue playing while the Titanic sinks. It isn’t about doing anything to save a situation; it is about holding yourself with dignity as you go down.

But it is a lie.

For while death might bring release to the one who dies it brings terrible tragedy to those left behind; the loved ones; the dependants; the ones who needed that life to just keep struggling on, just keep breathing ‘one more breath’ over and over again.

Wilfred Owen might have been talking of real death in times of war but the criticism – aimed squarely at those who are distanced from the battlefield and for whom death is an almost romantic, and certainly unreal, apparition – is valid for other situations too.

“An element of sadness”

On the 13th May the President of the St Beghian Society, Dacre Watson, wrote to the alumni of St Bees School of which you have heard so much from me in recent weeks. In the letter, Mr Watson seemed to rally the many hundreds of former students of St Bees School scattered around the world to believe in that ‘same old lie’.

“There will be an element of sadness” he said, talking of the final Old St Beghian day on 27th June this year, but “we must keep together.” Of the governors, who have resolutely refused serious plans to save the school and equally refused to stand aside to allow others with the passion and skills needed to turn the establishment around, he told the alumni “please bear with the Governors in their endeavours.”  He posits that the governors are actively exploring possibilities of reopening the school “possibly as early as September 2016″ but concedes that he doesn’t know any details and that “these are early days.”

Actually no; it isn’t early days. It’s very, very late days and there is no time left for posturing and vague promises of ‘exciting new developments’ as the head of the governors promised back in April, promptly failing to give any details when challenged by parents.

On our Campaign page we’ve given the stories of five schools similar to St Bees which faced closure. I will summarise them here. They are the proof – both positive and negative – of why we can’t allow the school to go down without a fight.

Three tales of woe

This is – was – St Margaret’s School in Exeter.

https://i2.wp.com/savestbeesschool.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/St-Margarets-School-collage.jpg

It closed in 2013. This is what the area is to become:

https://i1.wp.com/savestbeesschool.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/St-Margarets-Residences-3.jpg

A property developer plans to convert the Grade 2 listed buildings into 41 new homes (details here).

This is – was – Lindisfarne College.

https://i2.wp.com/savestbeesschool.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Lindisfarne-College-Before.jpg

This too has been developed:

https://i0.wp.com/savestbeesschool.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Lindisfarne-converted-to-flats1.jpg

This is – was – St Mary’s Hall School in Brighton.

https://i0.wp.com/savestbeesschool.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/St-Marys-School-Brighton-before.jpg

The school closed its doors in 2009. What happened to the 173-year-old buildings? You can guess, can’t you? This (full details here):

https://i1.wp.com/savestbeesschool.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/St-Marys-School-Brighton-after.jpg

It doesn’t take much to see the trend here. A school closes and it becomes a target for property developers. In fact, every single person I’ve spoken to who is knowledgeable about school closures (from parents to governors to top barristers) has confirmed this is the fate of schools which close – no matter how hard it is to tie down the exact links between those who close the school and the developers themselves. In fact, one the people I interviewed for this post warned me to beware of exactly this problem. It isn’t scaremongering. It’s a very real and probable fact.

In short, all those who loved St Bees School – the parents, the students, the alumni, the community of St Bees itself – can expect the developers to move in. Indeed, we know they’re already circling.

All is lost then? Dulce et decorum est? Nothing left but to feel ‘an element of sadness’?

Absolutely not.

Two tales to warm the heart

On the Campaign page we also told the story of two schools which faced closure, beat the governors and remained open – to great and continuing success!

Donottar

Dunottar School in Reigate faced closure in January 2014. I spoke to a parent who was deeply involved in the campaign to save the school and who wishes to remain anonymous. I will refer to her as Ann.

I asked Ann what happened to the school.

“In our case the head of the board of governors was also the head of the board of governors for a rival school,” she told me.

This head pushed for the school to be closed and, of course, this meant that many of the students would move on to his other school. There was a clear need for legal help to fight a very obvious matter of conflict of interest. Parents rallied round.

“The money needed for hiring a barrister was raised very quickly,” Ann admitted openly. They tried all kinds of fundraising. “We did everything from baking cakes to auctioning the use of holiday homes!”

With money raised, the action group took legal advice and the head of the governors finally resigned with other who sided with him going too.

“Some of the more traditional members of the board of governors stayed on, which was nice,” said Ann. “We have great confidence in our board of governors now.”

The battle had been ugly but swift and the action group brought in a group called United Learning to take over control of the school. As with any battle, there were casualties as Ann remembers:

“We had lost a lot of students by the time we reopened in September 2014, but United Learning were very supportive – they set up an advertising campaign and pledged to keep the school open for at least ten years, in order to rebuild confidence in the school.”

This tremendous support was well-founded and this coming academic year looks rosy for Dunottar School as Ann was delighted to tell me:

“This year our admissions are up by 40%. – in fact we’re looking at a record-breaking number of enrolments for September 2015.

 

Source:  T & S School website

Source: T & S School website

Tavistock & Summerhill Preparatory School is another school which faced closure in 2011 and won. Again, their action group had to battle with governors unwilling to make further attempts to save the school. I spoke to a source very close to the school who also wished to remain anonymous but who was heavily involved in the campaign.

“We had a stand-off with the governors,” she told me, “and they made us go through all kinds of hoops and impossible demands.”

These demands included proving a new board of governors would be ‘competent’ (which was ironic coming from the governors who had let the school fall into trouble). They also had to prove they could fund the school for another 18-24 months.

Again, from the announcement of closure in March, the action group had to wage war until June when the governors finally stepped down – just nine days before the school was due to finish for good. By then, staff and students had found other schools.

“We opened the following September with 2/3rds of our students gone,” my source told me. “We opened with just 32 children in the main school.”

That’s a staggering situation – opening an entire school with only enough children to fill one classroom in an ordinary state school. It seemed to me that it must have been too little, too late.

“Not at all,” I was told, “it has been a hard four years since we took over but our school is now stronger than ever. Our numbers of children at the school are right up again and the school is financially looking good.”

It is an amazing story and one which demonstrates that even nine days before a school is closing it is still possible to rescue a school and restore its financial health. The key, more than anything else, seems to be commitment from parents and staff to do whatever it takes to keep a school going.

St Bees School

I am constantly amazed by how dedicated to St Bees School everyone seems to be. It isn’t just the parents, who have a vested interest I suppose: it’s the community, the alumni, the staff – many of whom have gone on record that they have no intention of going anywhere else. Even many retired staff who live in the area have promised their services freely if it will save the school.

The test, in coming days and weeks will be how strong this dedication is.

Will parents be prepared to bring their children back to St Bees School if and when it reopens?

Will staff truly want to stay if the closure can be rescinded?

Will the community not just make a noise but do the necessary to raise money which will certainly be needed in the short-term to keep the school afloat while a dedicated and skilled new board of governors create a new way of managing the school?

If the answer to these questions is ‘no’ then we all need to start preparing ourselves for the inevitable mountain of luxury apartments and houses which will be developed.

Either way there can be no ‘sweet and fitting’ acceptance of the inevitable. It is not right to sit back and ‘bear with the governors’. 140 jobs are at stake, the future of 300 children’s lives are at stake and – though it will happen slowly like sinking in quicksand – the futures of businesses and residents in the local area are also at stake.

How can we drink our sherry, listen to the quartet and take our last gulp of air before icy water overcomes us and think “Dulce et decorum est?”

It isn’t, and never will be, the right thing to do to stand by and let the school die. There’s nothing sweet and fitting about that.

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The Benefits of Home Education (some, at least)

Bear with me. This is a steep learning curve for me and I’m not pretending to be an expert in this area (well not yet anyway!). What I share with you here today is simply what I’ve found so far.

With that in mind then, if you have further evidence and links you can share on home schooling (particularly as it relates to UK home education) please do share these in the comments section and I’ll update this post to include the ones I think fit best.

Resign now and save st bees schoolThose of you who follow this blog regularly know that my children’s school is closing. We’re desperately fighting to wrestle control from the governors who have proven, to the satisfaction of literally thousands of people directly connected to the school as parents, teachers, community members et., that they aren’t just incompetent but have set a course they have no intention of deviating from.

One way or another, even if we can regain control soon, the school will probably close and a group of us are very likely to home school our children come September – at least for a year until the school can be reopened with a new board of governors who will be open, honest, transparent and accountable. In short, everything the current board are not.

My research so far, however, shows that home schooling is not a ‘second best’ option at all; far from it. Nor is it an impossible task for busy parents – especially not when, as in our case in St Bees, there are a group of children likely to home school and a lot of teachers willing to give their time and effort to mentor and guide them. Here then are just some of the benefits to home education.

1) Home schooled children do better academically than classroom educated children

According to The Guardian, 80.4% of home educated students did as well as the top 16% of school educated students.

That’s a staggering statistic.

It basically says if you want your son or daughter to reach the academic heights of the minority of the very top school educated then you are very likely to succeed if you home educate them. 4 out of 5 kids succeed this way!

But it isn’t just about traditional educational success. Home schooling encourages a lifelong love of learning – a skill which has never been more vital today. When I was a state school teacher it was the single skill I actively tried to instil in my students. My subject was unimportant. I tried to show them learning could be fun and doesn’t end even when you’re a teacher yourself.

Unfortunately, schools are under constant pressure to squeeze children into narrowly defined boxes in order to improve ratings in league tables. One of my teacher friends working in a junior school tells me all the time how assessment after assessment has to be undertaken and it simply gets in the way of real teaching – I mean teaching where the class can explore ideas and let their imagination go wild.

Another useful aspect to home education is that you can choose what kind of course is best for your child. For instance, though we’ve not completely decided yet if I will home educate my twelve-year-old son if I do I’m probably going to ditch the Key Stage 3 programme his age group is supposed to study and instead put him on to GCSEs (designed for 14-16 year-olds). This is because he has a sharp mind but also has ADHD and is easily bored. He’s bright – though doesn’t believe himself academically so –  and could handle GCSEs, giving him three or four years to learn the material and skills if needs be. With exams available twice a year, he could end up with more GCSEs and confidence in academic pursuits than he would in formal classes.

2) Home schooling is better for children who struggle with school rules

It seems odd, doesn’t it? Your son is easily bored in classes. He hates school. He never gets his homework done in time and timetables simply don’t work for him. You couldn’t possibly home educate him – he’d never do anything!

Wrong.

The flexible nature of home schooling means that your child gets to take responsibility for their own education. Finally they can take a break when they want it and go back when they want to. Rather than making them lazy, every home schooler I’ve spoken to, or researched, says that they find their children do more.

“My daughter can spend hours on geography,” one home school parent told me, “and she knows more than we do about it now.”

When kids enjoy something they can keep their attention on it much longer than when it is forced on them. It also helps that learning is much faster at home. In a classroom the teacher has to make sure every single student has understood a concept or new skill before moving on. This means the moving at the speed of the slowest in the class. In reality the slower learners inevitably struggle to keep up anyway while the fastest ones get bored. With home schooling your child progresses at their own natural speed. For real high-flyers it is possible to complete a single GCSE course in one month. Most courses claim to take 120 hours. Six hours per day, five days per week and a course would be done in four weeks. You could complete 20+ GCSEs in the time it takes school educated children to take 6-10.

I am not, of course, suggesting you do this. But what it shows is that subjects which take two years in schools (and often have a bit of a rush at the end as teachers realise they’ve still not got to the end of the syllabus!) can actually take much less time at home. Your child is more likely to be engaged and progress at speed – not less.

Credit: Ryan Lash/TED

3) The classroom model is flawed

Educationalist Ken Robinson talks about this much better than I. Watch this fascinating visual presentation of one of his talks to see exactly what the problem is. It’s fun too.

His upshot is this: our school model is based on industrial revolution economic ideas. We educate in segregated departments and push kids through in batches according to ages and not ability. This happens nowhere else in life. Imagine working in a job where no matter how skilled and talented you were you could only progress upwards when you reached certain ages. Imagine watching a colleague older than you and terribly incompetent becoming your boss purely because they turned 40 without an interview or any other reason for promoting them!

Salman Khan created the Khan Academy which is rocking the educational premises of the world. I have to say I completely agree with Khan’s ethos and I’m particularly impressed with how schools are taking on his material in the USA. In short his premise is this:

In traditional models, the class teacher teaches  group of kids of widely varying abilities and new concept or subject, hopes all students have understood properly and then sets homework to test how well they’ve understood.

I know what it’s like to teach to that model. Thousands of teachers are doing this every day. It’s hard and every teacher knows it doesn’t work. If it did there would be no OFSTED, no league tables and no politician promising to reform our educational system to improve our schools.

Instead, schools embracing Khan’s system take advantage of the fact that every school kid has access to the internet these days and the dated industrial revolution idea of teaching in batches because resources are limited no longer apply. The traditional model is turned on its head.

In Khan schools, the lesson becomes the homework. Kids watch video lessons online at home. That way they can replay over and over if they need to and fully understand every single concept. Then at school they work on computers, laptops, iPads etc., and working in class on assessments and challenges which the teacher can keep track of and which allows students to progress at their own rate. Now the teacher, instead of being lecturer at the front, now becomes ‘guide by the side’. They can give full, directed attention to the students that need it without fettering the able students, preventing them from progressing.

If every state school taught like this I would happily send my kids to any school in the area. They don’t, so I won’t. At least not willingly anyway.

4) Pay or don’t pay – education can be free

There are tons of online courses out there and I will do a blog post on the best of the ones I have found soon. Some require you to buy in their material. Ten GCSEs, for instance, will set you back about £3,000 in total (which can be paid in small instalments). But there’s no need if you don’t wish. I’ve already given you the link to one superb and free resource but I’ll give it again – Khan Academy. Go check it out.

5) You don’t have to be a teacher, well-educated or even posh.

One of the myths of home education is that it is only for middle class, well-educated families. Whether you take a hands-on approach for teaching your children or make use of online courses where they are mentored online by real teachers through emails, online assessments and skype sessions, you don’t need to be an expert.

For younger children it is easy to keep up and be just a few steps ahead of them. For older ones it is more about guiding, researching and learning alongside them. Again, this is Khan Academy thinking. Teachers as experts at the front comes from a time when bosses were literally ‘high up’ and powerful, god-like figures which could only (occasionally) be brought to task when ordinary wretches rose up through the power of the unions. Actually, children learn better when they feel safe and comfortable with teachers as their guides and friends. No one is better placed to do this effectively than the parent.

6) Home educated kids are better socialized.

Another big myth is that home ed kids don’t get the socialization they need. This simply isn’t true. Every home ed parent I’ve spoken to is involved with local home ed groups and meets up with other parents to form groups where their children learn together. Here in St Bees we already have a number of teachers who can cover every subject ready to help do some group work (the LEA permits up to 15 hours per week of such group work for home ed students – any more and we become a school!) and this will be useful for keeping a check on student progress (something I’ll be helping to coordinate). That’s before we get in touch with local Cumbrian home school support groups or tap into resources of parents themselves!

A major point here is that bullying disappears completely with home education. Like-minded parents meet together with their kids in small groups where attention is personal and safe. At least one parent has spoken to me of their fear their child, who struggles even in a school with small class sizes, will be completely lost in a large school where class sizes will be close to 30.

When I was teaching in state education I was often aware of bullying issues but powerless to deal with them. Even then, I didn’t know about all the bullying going on. When I moved to Bangladesh in 2008 literally hundreds of former students friended me on Facebook and dozens told me stories of things which had happened to them at school which they’d not shared with any adult before. I was appalled – especially after the Head at that school had told me, just months before, that I need not concern myself with the personal problems of students as they had a trained counsellor (the deputy head) who could deal with all student problems. Yeah. Right.

With home schooling you choose the socialization of your children. They can mix with older, younger, adults – anyone and everyone you deem appropriate. Both statistics and the personal testimony of other home schooling parents I’ve spoken to show that home ed kids grow up to be better integrated and responsible members of society and are better equipped for coping with university and living away from home.

You can read more about studies into home school socialization here.

A Personal note

Recently, one of my very dearest friends accused me of having something of a vendetta against state education. He’s someone who knows me well so I take his criticisms seriously. Doesn’t mean I have to agree with them, of course, but I can’t dismiss them either.

So here and now I’ll put the record straight.

I have many, many friends who teach in both state and private education. Some are former students of mine or people I’ve helped to train or guide through their teacher training. They do a fantastic job. Really they do. All teachers do their best and schools work hard to be the best they can be. One of my friends just this week got an ‘outstanding’ when observed in the classroom. I’m so amazingly proud of her because it is recognition of the bloody hard work she puts in, often working late into the evenings every day just to make sure every single child in her care gets the best education possible. I have never met a teacher who worked harder despite not knowing any teacher who doesn’t work their butt off. I’ll be sad if she doesn’t run a school of her own one day.

But the key word in that last paragraph was ‘possible’. The model itself is at fault, not those who try to work within it. Sure, maybe a third of all children come out of education with very high grades – but most will tell you of their repeated boredom in classes waiting for the rest to catch up. Sure, most of the rest will come out with decent grades – but the system succeeds only in breeding mediocrity as a result. And God help those who don’t even manage that well – how do you think they feel about themselves? When I left education in this country there was a big push at my school to shove predicted ‘D’ grade students into the ‘C’ grade purely so the school could improve its league table results. Is getting ‘C’s for students really as good as we can achieve? I mean really? Are we proud of this? I’m not.

I AM proud of the fifteen years I spent working hard in the classroom and even prouder of every teacher who continues to sweat it out now – God bless every single one of them, they earn their salaries and then some! We have one of the best state education systems in the world – not the best but certainly high up there. But the independent school sector fares better because of lower class sizes and the very best teacher-student ratio is always going to be 1:1.

Home schooling isn’t for everyone but where my family are right now, with the school situation we have currently, it isn’t just an option to consider among several others. It is, without a doubt, head and shoulders above anything else on the table.

 

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