I’ve not been blogging much of late. It’s said that ‘life is a rollercoaster’ (and no I don’t mean the song sang by Ronan Keating), but I think it’s more like the waltzers in that once in a while the carni comes along and gives you a good spin and off you go round and around, dizzier and dizzier ? it’s great, but gravity has got your head pinned back to that cushion.
And so life has been and still, to some extent is.
I’m a bit of a crap blogger in that there’s lots I want to say, but I’m not really a heart-on-my-sleeve kind of person so sometimes I struggle to put it all into words and the more words there are whizzing around my head, the harder it gets.
R. starts school 3 mornings a week from the 29th. He’s really happy and wants to go full time, something that everyone else who is involved doesn’t think he is quite ready for yet? True to form however, I’m going to whinge about me (it’s my blog after all, he’s got his own if he wants to ramble on).
I’ve found it really, really tough, predominantly my hard concealed fury with the local HE ‘advisor’ who basically took us saying that we had concerns about R’s progress in maths to mean that R. wasn’t receiving a ‘suitable education’ (etc.) and doubtless (and this is conjecture on my part) that our refusal to show any ‘evidence’ of education as a cover-up for a lack of education.
This is, of course, balls, as I said at a meeting a few months ago (and I have an independent witness and it’s also noted on the ‘advisor’s’ follow-up letter) that R. has some difficulty with maths that we are supporting him with. R. was then asked about this and R. said that he didn’t like maths and would much prefer to read a book. This was noted on the follow-up letter where, despite not seeing any ‘evidence’ (as requested) the advisor concluded that upon visiting us that education was clearly ‘satisfactory’ (yes, yes, I could pick a million holes in this, but I’m trying not to get sidetracked from my main point). And that R. is a very polite, articulate young man and that we should be very proud of him (well yes, tempers aside, he is, we know that already). In addition, the EWO commented that IHO a child couldn’t fail to learn in our home environment.
Right, so we (R. and I) acknowledged at the time that maths is a difficult area for R.
As part of the Statement of SEN we requested (as R. wanted to return to school) R. was tested by an Ed. Psych. We agreed to this as it contributed to the Statement and we were endeavouring to get good support in place. As part of this test (WIAT-II for anyone that’s interested) R. was ranked at percentile 4 (i.e. the bottom 4%). He scored average in mathematical reasoning, so this particular ranking is a very localised area of difficulty.
Again, this is not what was actually said, but rather me doing some simple maths (excuse the pun) BUT at the multi-agency meeting, after having expressed concern about R.’s difficulty, bearing in mind that WE requested the statement, R. WANTS to go to school, the HE Advisor says that we have admitted that R. isn’t receiving a suitable education.
Now hang on a sec. This is one part of the test ? clearly the advisor finds it very convenient to ignore the other parts of the test. Aside from this one low ranking, R. ‘scored’ (yes I know, but again, I?m trying to stick to the point) one ‘average’ ranking. Every other ranking was ‘above average’ (i.e. over and above the 90th centile). In fact, on the WISC-IV Comprehension Scale the results suggested an age equivalent of 16 years and 10months (he’s 12). Ok, he struggles with long division, but when asked to explain why the internet might be considered a threat to dictatorship (or some such, I know it was worded better), he not only explained why, but gave an example of China.
Hmmmmm, something tells me this HE lark works?
So, quite understandably I’m a tad tetchy about what I perceive to be the very condescending way the ‘advisor’ (and I do use the term loosely) spoke to me. This meeting happened some weeks ago and I’m still, to be frank, furious.
As an additional aside, bear in mind that his younger brother who chose to return to school last year, was also HE-ed for over 3 years and guess what, they did maths together. Said child went straight into the top maths set when he returned to school and shortly afterward, excellent SATS results.
Now I *KNOW* it’s not about results, I am not results orientated in my opinion of my children, but I’m putting it across in traditional National Curriculum speak (something else we went nowhere near whilst HE-ing) and well, clearly HE really did work for Erk too and also, quite obviously, demonstrates that maths is something that can successfully be grasped in this house.
In which case, clearly, R. and I have a difference in understanding in that I explain, but don’t explain in a way that he understands with much success. Clearly Erk and I understood each other and therefore Erk (who also really enjoys maths as a concept) has little difficulty with maths and demonstrates that learning (and therefore a suitable education etc.) is happening in this house but that we have come across a particular stumbling block for R. That being the case, it is very likely that he would have also have had difficulty in this are had he been attending school.
HOW DARE HE MAKE THE HYPOTHETICAL JUDGEMENT THAT R’S DIFFICULTY IN A TINY AREA IS DOWN THE FACT THAT I AM LYING (his opinion) THAT HE WAS RECEIVING A ‘SUITABLE EDUCATION’ AND THAT FURTHER MORE THIS IS BORNE OUT BY THE FACT THAT WE REFUSED TO OFFER UP ‘EVIDENCE OF EDUCATION’ AS PER THE LAW AS HE PERCEIVES IT.
And before anyone dives in at this point, we know the law, hence our confidence in refusing evidence that R. was not comfortable in offering up for judgement (and it was his choice not to). However, even at the recent multi-agency meeting I was *still* told by said advisor that I was wrong and that by law he MUST be provided with evidence of education – oh and BTW folks, EO and HE-UK (etc) are also wrong in perpetuating the ‘myth’ of a right of refusal (etc.), one of the reasons why EO info. is not given out by our local LA 😦
So this is my mantra: R. has chosen to return to school, so therefore I must not let the narrow-minded man annoy me.
He really, really, really does and it’s not just me. I may no longer have to deal with him (atleast temporarily, although, upon my polite comment that we?d be seeing him again in a few years when Nin ‘comes of age’ he replied that he didn’t expect to be in post at that point), other people do. He carries on believing that he is right and we are wrong and that he is justified in his opinions that people who are ‘difficult’ are really hiding something.
It’s all very well saying that local HE-ers should stand together on this point, but they don’t.
I was one of a (very) small group standing up to the LA on this point and, until R. returns to school p/t on the 29th, I am the only one left who has not shown an example of work, or whose child hasn’t subsequently returned to school – and of course, as R. has chosen to return, that doesn’t even leave me and there is a rather large part of me that really, really hates the fact this and I think (and of course, again, it’s purely conjecture on my part) that he is smugly patting himself on the back at ‘dispelling the thorny lies’ that we spouted about HE-ers rights etc.
I am not criticising other people for their family choices, but being the last one was bloody exhausting folks and near bought me to tears on numerous occasions and near bloody crushing when, after more than 18 months of what I would consider harrassment by the LEA, my son, who in preferring not to ‘provide evidence’ or even, at one point, meet the HE advisor and my determination to support him in his legal choice to do so led to the long back and forth of letters and arguments, chose to do a complete U-turn on the ‘I’m never going near school again’ to ‘I want to go to school asap’.
Sometimes this supporting children’s rights can be a real downer, because, as his mum I love him and want to support him (within reason, we’re talking sensible choices here folks, I do bring in some adult consideration here), but sometimes I feel like I’ve been the full distance and back so many times (bearing in mind the court cases against his nutter of a biological father, which, incidentally, the second of which I had to represent myself as we couldn’t afford legal representation, even with some Legal Aid).
I’m so very, very, incredibly tired.
And then I have two more children. Two children who, after my experiences with the older two and school, I don’t want to ever set foot in a school at age 5.
But then I didn’t want them to attend pre-school either and yet Nin goes twice a week (and loves every minute of it).
It’s really hard to HE when you feel really set out on a limb. It’s not like there aren’t other HE-ers in the town, there are. They’re nice people, but I don’t necessarily connect with them and therefore I do feel rather alone here. I can’t drive and TBH I think I need to drive to get out somewhere else if I’m to successfully HE Nin and Ned.
I don’t feel really like I ‘fit in’ at the next nearest HE meet (there certainly isn’t one locally and part of me wants to set one up, but then the other part of me knows about all the crap that can go along with HE meets and I really DON’T want to be dealing with that ? and I know I?m not alone with saying 98% of it is other parents, not their children). Oh and Fiona, Sarah and Kris will know what I mean when I say, yes, I still am anal enough to be really, really wound up about it all 😦
I know I’m cynical, but d’you know what, we don’t live in a wonderful Utopia where we can all get on and agree. HE is diverse as any other group of people and sometimes, although my politeness generally means I smile sweetly, I really want to thump someone on the head with a heavy implement (not a good urge!)
I live in a mining village where those people that know me think I’m a bit odd and I do struggle to find common ground with people, even without the breastfeeding (yes, even breastfeeding is viewed with surprise, it’ll be interesting what they say next year when we’re likely to still be going and thereon 🙂 ), slinging, cloth nappies, eating organic food (why waste your money on that?) and well, you get the idea.
I really need to learn to drive, but to learn to drive I need some work coming in and that is something I’m rather short of atm. I need money to plough into business to make business successful, but perversely, needing business means that I don’t have the sort of money needed – catch22, so continuing to learn to drive not much of an option atm.
DH is making noises about me having to drive to HE too and that IHO I will be isolating this children if I don’t get out amongst the HE community with them.
I’m going to stop ranting now.
I’m not really very happy atm.