Archive for May, 2009

Painting with flour!

Today was a bit of a light bulb moment - as I realised how far we have come on the Home Eding road.  Today number 2 son (8 months old) found a bag of flour, decided to tip it on the floor and sit in it.  Now if number 1 son (now nearly 7 years old) had done this when he was the same age, I would have thrown a wobbly, picked him up, cleaned him down, tidied away and got myself all worked up into a state (which would have upset my son as well)

Being 6 years down the line, I just wandered past him, sat down with him and drew swirly patterns on the kitchen floor in the flour, then got up and left him to play with it.  When number 1 son returned home from his Martial Arts class, he promptly joined in by getting some more flour out and some sea salt and making a great wall of china on the floor.

I think that the reality of HE for me is that we are all learning what life is about, how to live with each other and ourselves, and learning all about the world.  I dont know where DS1 learnt about the Great Wall of China, but he obviously has at some point - and DS2 is busy learning how to make pictures with his hands.

I can get the hoover out later and clean the mess up, so why worry, the boys are happy, I am not stressing and a good time was had by all.

#10 Petition - the Government’s response

Thank you for your e-petition.

One of the key principles underpinning The Children’s Plan published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families is that the government does not bring up children – parents do. The review of home education does not threaten a parent’s right to educate their child at home.

However, there is always a balance to be struck between respecting the rights of parents, and ensuring that local authorities (LAs) and other agencies have the right systems in place to intervene where it is necessary for them to do so. LAs tell us that they have particular concerns about being able to fulfil their responsibilities in the case of home educated children. We must find out what is behind those concerns and make sure that the arrangements are fit for purpose.

The welfare and protection of all children, both those who attend school and those who are educated at home, are of paramount concern. The independent review of home education is part of our ongoing commitment to strengthen the safeguarding arrangements for all children, whatever their background or circumstances.

So LAs, or rather a minority of unelected, unaccountable LA employees with axes to grind and empires to build, have told the government that they’re not happy and want more power. Their word is apparently all that’s needed? OMG the LAs aren’t happy! How can central government possibly ignore the wishes of local government … oh, hang on, they don’t usually have a problem with that.

A cynical person might think that LA whining is a convenient excuse not the real reason. The same cynical person probably thinks that the Review is a stitch-up and this ‘answer’ is as predictable as it is pathetic.

Houses of Parliament

I wouldn’t normally post after a trip but we all had such a good time last week that I thought I’d share the day with those of you who couldn’t attend.

Some years ago my mother-in-law did a tour of the Houses of Parliament and raved about how wonderful it was. She went as a paying member of the public, during the summer when MPs were as rare as hen’ s teeth.So when I discovered that if you booked as an educational group, you could attend a workshop AND have a tour for free, it seemed too good to pass up.

The Houses of Parliament are familiar to everyone. We see them on the news all the time. I have often wondered exactly what is is that politicians do in those hallowed chambers, apart from filling expenses claims so visiting during term time was a good way to learn more.

We met at Portcullis House which is the newsest part of the Palace of Westminster. A modern glass and steel edifice with trees planted in the central atrium( see the government are green really) opened at the turn of the century for many zillions of pounds. After passing through the revolving doors and going through airport type security. You know, having your bags scanned, photos taken and ID pass produced.They did stop short of actually micro-chipping us. There was , as you might expect, a heavy armed police presence.Last time I saw that many armed police was over 20 years ago at Munich airport !

We were collected by a couple of members of staff and escorted to the room where our workshop was going to take place. We were booked to attend’Parliament Explained’ which showed how the three parts, Monarchy, Lords and Commons worked together to produce laws for the government of the land.Thankfully it was air-conditioned as Portcullis House acts in the same way as a greenhouse…

The lady leading the workshop gave us a power-point presentation then said that we were going to propose a new law and debate it. The room was set up in a similar fashion to the Chambers with rows of seating facing each other.The children decided to debate-’Should capitol punishment be re-instated for murder?’ ( so nothing controversial then !) They enjoyed standing up to adddress the speaker and calling upon their ‘Right Honourable Friends’. At the end we voted on the motion then pased it to the House of Lords where we debated it further and voted once more. It wasn’t carried !

I think the parents were probably more militant than the children !!   At the end of the session our MP Anne Milton came in for a Q&A session. We were lucky as MPs are often not in Westminster during workshops.Anne had to be because she was taking part in a debate later. The children were not at all phased by speaking with a politician ! One lad asked her what her greatest chievement, to date, was. She replied ‘Saving the RSCH from closure’. Then, in a very sweet moment, one of our younger members turned to her and said.’So Mrs Milton what do YOU think about Home Education ? Do you think it is a good idea ? Because sometimes in school the teacher’s don’t understand you’

The reply was very slick-’I think that children should be educated where they learn best’. A typical politician’s answer.She then went on to add that her sister, whilst in Niger, had taught her three children at home and that the youngest had pased 4 A levels at the age of 15years. I rest my case.

After that we went on our tour of the Houses of Parliament. Be prepared to run as the guides keep to a strict timetable and th Palace is vast. We went underneath the road, through a tunnel, pausing briefly at the door to Big Ben’s tower before rushing on, up countless flights of stairs to the House of Commons chamber. Here you have to hand all your possessions over. We crept in and sat ( behind bullet -proof glass) in the public gallery.They were debating Swine Flu-topical and actually quite interesting, although the chamber was sparsely populated. After that we were whisked off to the Central Lobby, the bit where TV journalists always film. You would come here if you wanted to ‘lobby’ your MP about something ( or indeed lob something at your MP). It is mid-way between the House of Commons and House of Lords and rather like the interior of a church.

It was here that we saw Lord Seb Coe much to the delight of one of our party !!   He kindly held the door open for her-a never to be forgotten moment. Then it was off to the House of Lords. The House of Commons was rebuilt during the 1950s whereas the Lords is far older and grander. We went in and watched their debate for a while. It was something to do with tourism in rural areas and deadly boring. I am sure I saw someone nodding off on the benches. Then it was off to St Stephens Hall which used to be a chapel during the time of Henry VIII, then we finished up in Westminster Hall. Famous for being the place for lying-in-state of deceased monarchs. Westminster Hall is the only part of the HoP where photography is permitted and it is the oldest part. Built by William Rufus, the conquor’s son, although the roof is more recent !

So there you have it, footsore and weary we made our way back home. It had been a fabulous trip, too much to take in on one visit so we will definitely be going back in the future. The Palace of Westminster is an amazing place.The history seeps out from the walls and envelopes you.

Chicks

The girls will be 3 weeks old tomorrow. Here they are enjoying some Sweet Woodruff flowers.

cats,crockery and circles

Some days you just know that you shouldn’t bother getting out of bed. The other day was a classic example.

One of our cats crawled through the cat flap and collapsed on the floor.Minutes before there had been an almighty crash and one of our fence panels almost caved in.Bearing in mind that our neighbours had buiders in, laying a new  patio I put it down to their usual cack-handed approach to the job.Until I spotted the builders jack russell terrier in our back garden, busily digging up my potato plants and cocking it’s leg on my garden bench !!

Roaring out into the garden ( not a pretty site as I was still in PJs andhubby’s cast off Heineken t-shirt) I despatched the dog which had chased our cat through the cat-hole in the fence between our gardens. I returned to the house to examine the cat which was yowling pitifully and unable to put ant weight on his back legs.He walks with a limp anyway due to an old injury.His claws were all scuffed from scrabbling over the fence. I carried the cat upstairs and laid him on the bed. Went back to the kitchen to make a reviving cup of tea in my largest mug.Picked up the milk bottle and it slipped, bounced off my mug and crashed to the kitchen floor.Shattering the mug and contents over most of the kitchen floor and the milk bottle was a full one(naturally)

Meanwhile the cat is howling like a banshee so I bundle it into the car and set off down the vets, convinced that it has a broken leg at the very least. Half an hour and many pounds lighter vet pronounces that the cat has ‘probably torn a ligament’.We troop home and the cat limps outside-on it’s front two paws and bottom and proceeds to haul itself up the trellis, onto the shed roof and curls up on the garage roof. It starts to rain-

A announces that he is stuck on his maths.Great just to add to a perfect day-maths is not my strong point but I figure that as it’s geometry I should be able to help. I look at what he is doing, work on circles.

‘Mum what does pie-r-squared mean?’ he inquired.Well it’s a number I begin and then trail off-what does it mean ? I didn’t get it when I was 12 and the intervening years have not changed the situation !

By now it is pouring in earnest and I suggest finishing the maths lesson and would A like to get the ladder out and climb up onto the garage roof, to retrieve the cat.Then I thought we would go out-and buy some more mugs !

You have GOT to be kidding?!

GRAHAM BADMAN CONFIRMED AS BECTA’S CHAIR

Graham Badman said:

“I am delighted to accept this appointment. Becta has a key role to play in ensuring that we harness the power of the technology that is all around us to improve outcomes for children and adults.

“We now have in place a strong and convincing system-wide strategy and I look forward to leading Becta into its next phase, which will include much stronger support for Directors of Children’s Services across the range of their responsibilities, and to challenge and support the corporate leadership of Local Authorities ensuring a coherent approach to the use of technology across all services.”

Do I even NEED to comment? I’m frankly amazed that they didn’t even bother to wait until the stitch up ‘Independent HE Review’ was in! Do they even care how this looks?