Every Child Matters – and the award goes to…

I think the best award ever given at my daughters school was the one for attendance. When the Headmaster asked for the person who had won the award to receive it…..they weren’t there. Was it an act of rebellion taken on the wrong day, or to prove a point, or just bad luck?

There are lots of other awards, student of the week, woodland cup, most improved student etc etc. whenever I have seen these award ceremonies, I always feel bad for the 99% who don’t receive the award. Does it inspire them to do better or make them feel worse that their own achievements haven’t been recognised? I agree life is hard and we have to learn how to lose gracefully, but does this lesson really have to start so young and is an awards programme really the best form of encouragement for children?

I have been on both sides of the fence, seeing my daughter’s excitement and pride as she receives an award and the disappointment when she doesn’t. I said to her she doesn’t need an award to know how well she has done at something but she thinks she has done something wrong when many of her friends are recognised and she isn’t. I think it may just be the case that the teacher is newly qualified and she has lost track of who has and hasn’t had awards. Which is why the system, in my view, is so flawed and I feel does more harm than good.

One of the phrases fundamental to the national curriculum is Every Child Matters – is there an award for that?

This blog is for UNICEF.

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ladies of many ‘leisures’

School fundraising, cake sales, second-hand uniform sales, raffles, fairs, bingo nights, quiz nights, wine tasting, barbecues, drinks nights, sponsored walks, car boot sales, guest speaker nights, barn dance nights, band nights, silent auctions….. How many of these can you fit in an academic year?

I have just returned from a meeting of our PTA, which seems to take place at various mums houses that are all considerably grander than mine. In fact following the meeting I felt a bit like Rodney from Only Fools & Horses when I asked the Mum dropping me off home in her luxurious 4×4 to just set me down at the end of the street (Unlike Rodney I wasn’t going to pretend I lived in a mansion). This particular Mum is a northerner so a bit more grounded. In fact regardless of money and who does what, I found myself in a situation where we were all working together to achieve the aim of getting our Headmaster his all singing all dancing white boards. But at £3000 each for every year group, it’s quite a bit of money to raise. The events you organise tread the fine line between providing entertainment and making lots of money. There will always be one (or several) that complain they have been ‘fleeced’ at an event but you go to a fundraiser to have fun and help the school – that’s the trade-off for having fun isn’t it? People like myself can’t afford to make big donations so I donate my time instead. 

Of course the Mums that are part of the committee are not, as you might think, ladies of leisure, but Mums who do have a day job or jobs as well as caring for their children. Which makes it all the more challenging. 

I wonder what what the so called ‘ladies of leisure’ do? I think it is a myth..

This blog is for UNICEF.

thanks for reading.

A double decker doo doo of a day

Reading between the School’s lines….

Urgent email from School

Dear Parents, due to heavy traffic our visit to the London school has been delayed so, in order that the children benefit as much as possible from the experience, we will be leaving slightly later so please collect your children at xxx

The reality as observed by parent helper on trip….

Dear parents, the bus driver thought he could squeeze a double decker bus through the Blackwall tunnel, so after a detour around the 02 car park and a nearby recycling facility, we finally got on the right road. As it was close to lunch-time we had our lunch on the bus, rather than in the school hall with our partner school pupils and finally arrived at the school feidup and busting for the loo after a 3 and a half hour bus ride. We just about had time to play a quick ice-breaker game with the children, followed by a walk down a London street before saying our goodbyes and boarding the bus once again for our 2 hour ride home.

Time spent visiting partner school – 1 hour 45 minutes

Time spent on the bus – 5 hours 30 minutes

So after my initial excitement yesterday at the opportunity to visit a Temple and spend a lot of time with the children experiencing an inner city education. I found myself cursing the bus driver and his over reliance on the sat nav and getting even more annoyed by a parent helper whose only reason for attending was to ‘look out for her boys as she couldn’t understand why the school was visiting such a dodgy area’. I enjoyed watching her reaction when I told her my sister-in-law lived a mile down the road.

But I did enjoy seeing all our school kids swapping notes and chatting happily with their new found city friends.

Next time I will suggest to the Headmaster we take the train…..

This blog is for UNICEF.

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Ignorance is catchy – a school trip that divides opinion

Tomorrow, I am assisting with crowd control of 60 plus country primary school kids on a visit to a school in East London. The schools have established an informal partnership to benefit from an exchanging and sharing of norms and values amongst the children. A kind of educational town mouse country mouse. I completely get it.

But some parents from our rural school don’t…

One girl has been withdrawn from the school because her mother believes London is ‘dangerous’.

Another mother has asked that her daughter does not take part in the element of the trip where the children visit a Sikh Temple, because she believes that ‘white children going to a ‘mosque’ will be the targets for terrorists’. This is what she said to me assuming that I would share her views. I chewed off half my face and managed to say in response ‘I think you are over-reacting’.

Judging by the School Managers’ response to this mother, her email of complaint was not the only one received.

Even though these views are in the minority, they still exist, which is shocking. Is it the result of UKIP? The Daily Mail? Too much time spent in a predominantly white society? A lack of education? The ignorance that discriminatory views publicised in the mass media breeds? Whatever the reason it is inexcusable and represents an issue in our society that can only begin to be solved by the next generation.

Which is why school visits like these are vitally important.

This blog is for UNICEF. Thanks for reading.

Dad the Basset hound

It is 9.30 in the morning in Sydney, which is where my Dad and stepmom have just arrived to commence their honeymoon of a lifetime.

In the space of a couple of years my Dad has made the woman he loves his wife, obtained broadband where he lives in the sticks, discovered the World Wide Web, got his email, registered a Skype profile and bought a tablet pc.

The biggest change is that he is now a big softie, looking at me, his grandchildren and my stepmom with a doughy eyed look similar to that of an old Basset hound. In fact, what with his slight hobble, if he was a dog he would be a basset.

My Dad proves that with age comes an appreciation of time and that it is not infinite, so he is doing what we should all be doing, appreciating what is right in front of him.

This blog is for UNICEF.

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The power of 1

My hubby and I (every time I begin a blog post in this way I feel like the Queen) were invited to our neighbour’s for a meal. This is a rare occurrence for us as we don’t consider ourselves to be the ‘dinner party type’ and tend to give off that vibe. It turned out to be really good, despite the age gap of the other neighbour’s who joined us. We got back late so hence the lack of blog post (£1 in the pot to UNICEF).

However, the conversation did stray onto politics and the older couple proudly announced they would be voting UKIP. I had my concerns when a few headlines from The Daily Mail were mentioned.

I have seen UKIP double decker buses twice in this area but nothing from The other parties. We live in a ‘blue’ area and the power of our vote is virtually useless. It is worrying that I feel like the minority wanting to shake my fist at the UKIP bus.

I said to my husband, ‘If UKIP get in we are getting out’. He asks, ‘But where would we go? I didn’t have a clue because at our age it is so difficult to move to another country. So after a while I opted for the Outer Hebrides, because at least up there Government would be diluted.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that……

This blog is for UNICEF.
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My son had his first swim lesson today. I dont know who was more proud, me or my daughter, as we watched him splash about with his legs going like the clappers and his yellow noodle buoyancy aid swinging from side to side, yet not travelling that far. At the end of the session they played games and he was grinning from ear to ear. He did a jump into the pool and the teacher caught him then pulled him up under the water – I think he must have taken on quite a lot of water, judging by his slightly panicked expression but we all remained smiling as if to say ‘its fun going under water’. Actually its a bit of a shock, and so much better with a pair of goggles – how they managed to swim at a high level decades ago without hats and goggles is beyond me. So, we promised him next time to buy a pair of Peppa Pig George goggles so he can feel a little more comfortable when he jumps in or starts searching for a water toy.

When we got home he promptly threw up in the bathroom while I was brushing his teeth – a sign that he did indeed take in half the pool. I must get him doing the blowing bubbles technique to stop him getting a belly full of water.

Swimming is one of those life skills that are a must have – like bike riding or learning to read. The little things in life are also a big deal – I distinctly remember the first time I made a cup of tea…

Thats why its important to record the ‘firsts’, no matter when in life they happen.

This blog is for Unicef.

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Fair Apple, Aunt Irma, the munchies and more trainspotting

I am writing today’s post with my new Apple IPad Air. This is our first foray into Apple as we had previously looked on the brand with scorn at Fairtrade issues and over-hyped marketing hype.
However, my Surface is caput, my husbands Samsung is not that easy to use and we just wanted to see for ourselves. So far so good… Still concerned about the Fairtrade bit, though – will look into it a bit more. It’s not brand new BTW – good old eBay recycling..

Aunt Irma is threatening to visit again so my calorie intake has shot through the roof. The normal guilt of calorie consumption overridden by the innate desire to stuff my face.

My daughter has once again indulged in some railway children antics today, standing on top of the bridge and waving at trains. As I’m working in the stables I hear yet another train horn blast as my daughter is spotted on the bridge. It just goes to show the best form of entertainment in half-term is free and chosen by the children themselves. Plus it helped me get my work done. I never knew working near a railway line would have such benefits.

I wonder if there is a train spotting app….
This blog is for UNICEF .
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No matter what age you are, or your situation, rejection is always hard. I was told I was unsuccessful in a recent interview and the member of the panel who interviewed me gave me the corporate version of ‘its not you, its me’. There was a stronger candidate with a bigger skills set apparently. I put it down to an interrupted career of child rearing therefore I dont stand a chance against someone who has worked without a break since University – fair play to them.

It does affect how you perceive other job adverts though, as it discourages you from adverts that could be at the limit of your experience and skills levels. A lot of work goes into the application and interview process so you dont want to time-waste for the sake of either party. Therefore I am tempted to drop a few grand off the salary and play it safe to bridge that skills gap to the higher echelons of the salary bracket. The only down-side is childcare costs which bring the monthly net income down considerably to the point where its in the hundreds rather than the thousands – working hard for not very much is the state of play for any working mum these days,particularly mums of younger children.

But in an employer’s market, mums are not so appealing as employees, especially so in these leaner, meaner times.

The upside of this news however is that it buys me more time with my children and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon helping my daughter spend her birthday vouchers in the high street. I was impressed with her choices to update her bedroom – a lamp and a bin – very grown-up. She also observed me giving money to a homeless person in the subway and I said to her I hoped he would spend it on something remotely healthy. As we walked back past him later, his bottle of orange juice was rolling away from him, so I picked it up and gave it back and noticed he had a big pack of chocolate cookies too. My daughter saw that the money had been spent to make his life more bearable and it was good to know it may have helped him in some way. Thankfully he also had a sleeping bag and warm gloves. I cant ever recall seeing a homeless person in this particular city before and wondered what led this young guy to sleep rough in a subway. I reminded my daughter that he may be someone’s brother and/or son – therefore we turn a blind eye to no-one.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Pancakes, Frozen and Trains

As usual this morning, I reluctantly got out of bed. As soon as I was downstairs my daughter announced that it was pancake day and ‘where are the pancakes?’ I groaned and mumbled about doing it later but then decided I had no excuse and pancake were best eaten at breakfast, so, fuelled by a cup of tea,I set to work mixing and flipping. The children were happy pouring copious amounts of maple syrup on their pancakes and waaaay too much sugar. I later did the same for hubby and I for tea. The first course was bacon and maple syrup toppings and the second sounds vile, but was actually a scrummy combination of rhubarb, plain yoghurt and maple syrup. There is something about pancakes that leave your tummy very satisfied. I like them infused with things like berries and alternative toppings, such is there versatility. However, I estimate I have consumed at least 10 pancakes today so I am now very happy to give the a rest fro my diet for a while.

Another thing we have overdosed on recently is the film Frozen. We were invited to a ‘sing-a-long-a’ Frozen film party at a ocal cinema, complete with actors on stage, special effects and props. I have never seen so many Anna and Elsas in one small area and I was thankful my two children were not dressed up as I could easily spot them. Despite my 9 year old thinking it was a bit ‘uncool’, this didnt stop her joining in with all the dance routines and singing. My son was on the edge of his seat chanting ‘Run Sven RUN’ at the appropriate moments in the film.

But, for my daughter, the most exciting part of the day was when we stood on a railway bridge and waved at a train and she saw the driver wave back and then he sounded the trains horn – she was soo excited and said ‘its just like the railway children!’. It just goes to show the old stories are still the best.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.