Passionate about Health & Education (and feidup with the deficit)

Missed a blog post last night because I was trying to finish off my part-time work before I embark on a new full-time job, so another £1 in the Unicef pot.

I just spent an hour or so of my life watching Paxman’s interview with both Miliband and Cameron. I will be voting Labour in the elections so I found myself rooting for Ed and hoping Cameron’s rhetoric would be dismissed. While I believe Paxman gave Ed a far tougher ride than David, I believe Ed came across as genuinely passionate about making lives better in Britain, whereas David was tired, staid and maybe a bit too relaxed considering all his promises made at the last election were not met, in fact with some of them he did the complete opposite.

But aside from the EU, immigration and the bloomin deficit (I’m sure it’s always been there but it’s the new buzzword in the press and a good way for Tories to sugar up the bitter medicine of public sector cuts) I think that Labour’s pledge to protect spending in health and education is absolutely right. The Tories offer no such protection and that is not good enough.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Life skills in theatre…well the worlds a stage

I had the pleasure of watching my daughter enjoy every single minute of her performance at her Theatre School. She was fab and not only that, every child shone and clearly enjoyed working as a team together on stage.

It is not just performing skills that my daughter is taking part in, but the feeling of camaraderie with her contemporaries and older children. The girl that won the talent contest got a big pat on the back from friends on stage as she finished her performance and every parent was clapping and whooping with gusto regardless of whether their child was in that particular performance or not.

It dawned on me that we all have the ability to share in one another’s achievements and those of our children and take pleasure in witnessing young people do things very, very well.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Motivating a mule, marvelling at Mazda

Still struggling with the education battle. I want to look round an alternative school, hubby doesn’t. I wonder what it will take for him to consider other options, it’s got to the stage where I am actually willing bad shit to happen at the school to prompt him to grant his permission. I mentioned this to Mum and she commented that I was not the only woman in history that thinks up an idea and then has to wait for the man to adopt and claim the idea as his own before proceeding further, until then they are as stubborn as a mule with its feet set in concrete…..gaa! why do we have to dance to these male tunes all the time – drives me crazy ( and is very bad for my libido). I am one week away from growing armpit hair and burning my tiny bras – although not sure what that would achieve, but you get my drift.

As usual I am seeking solace in a book, this time it is a chance discovery in the school pta shed (I claimed it as a perk of volunteering – so did baby boy, who found a Boeing 737 toy going spare). The book is called ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. It has sold over 6 million copies and is recommended by critics and celebs alike. Although sometimes I want to slap the author round the face and say ‘pull yourself together!’, I enjoy reading her travelling experiences (particularly as I am not well travelled) and the times when she broke down in tears on the bathroom floor (because it’s nice to know you are not the only one who loses it…..except I like to be in a slightly comfier situation). So if you want to read how one woman heals her wounded soul from the dents absorbed by pressured western life and a series of less than ideal relationships, then look no further.

If an alien had looked at our school this morning, it would have seen all the children and teachers looking up at the sky as if searching for something while clutching taped together cereal packets. After a few minutes of this, everyone walked back into the classroom – very bizarre behaviour indeed! The only way I knew something had happened was when my car lights automatically switched on as they would at dusk. While pupils were measuring temperature drops and deciphering bird movements, my good old Mazda was proof the eclipse had happened despite the sky being as thick as pea soup in clouds.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading.

The eclipse – how to improvise this phenomenon by a 9 year old

Ok yesterday’s post was heavy, but I am pleased to report that I have told my hubby that I applied to be a social worker and he didn’t baulk at the idea (especially when I told him the childcare costs would at least be covered….and maybe some groceries). My mother in law on the other hand didn’t seem to restrain her feelings. When I told her over the phone, there was a pause then she commented that she had always thought my sister in law would have made a good social worker (and she didn’t add the word ‘too’ afterwards). I consoled myself by realising that my mother in law doesn’t really know me, she only knows that I am able to love her son (although she confesses if he had been first born she wouldn’t have had any more children) and that I am able to have babies quite quickly ( not the conception part, rather rubbish at that, but the labour part – my daughter was four hours and my son was two – he came out so quick his eyes were bloodshot). 

Anyway, It’s the eclipse tomorrow and everyone is getting geared up at school for a glimpse in the playground. My daughter was asked to make a viewer from a cereal box (we don’t have cereal so I actually went out and bought cereal for this very purpose). After extracting the weetabixes, she set to work. Lots of cutting and tape ripping ensued before I went in to check how she was doing and found her ‘testing’ the viewer by standing on a stool holding a tennis ball up to the ceiling light…’it works’ she said. I just hope the clouds clear for tomorrow.

She then did a demonstration of the process of the eclipse for me and baby boy. She used a large round cushion to represent the sun and chose a tennis ball for the earth, much to the amusement of my Jack Russell, who kept chasing the ‘Earth’ while it was in orbit of the cushion. I was laughing and so was baby boy as my daughter got very cross with the JR as she tried to extract ‘Earth’ from the dog’s mouth. So she gave up the idea and used us instead. I was the sun, baby boy was the moon and she was earth, except the moon was rather too close to the sun and after a while got bored of going round and round. 

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading.

The battle of education…..and other passions

Emotions have been brewing in me all day. What is it about education that makes you want to drive your fist into a breeze block wall? I am beyond frustrated with my daughter’s school which is why my hand is sore and bruised! My husband does not want to launch into the problem when he returns from home. For me, currently at home, it is all I can think about.

Then, in the evening, a frustrating parish council meeting for all concerned raises tempers and emotions further on various issues relating to the village, both major and minor.

But if there is one thing that can be taken from stressful situations, its the reason why they are stressful in the first place, because you care. 

If care did not exist, passion would not be needed to drive through change. It is  the passion behind a cause that makes the world go round. 

This is often no consolation for those suffering the stress of an injustice, or frustration at a poor decision.

The test of an issue’s importance is to wait awhile, after tempers are subdued and if it still matters in the cold, harsh, sober light of day. Then do something about it.

In my case, I want to look at the possibility of changing schools. At least I have the luxury to do so because of our area and the schools on offer. It is about choosing a school where teachers truly believe in the phrase ‘Every Child Matters’. Is that possible under Gove’s hideous new curriculum?

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Run girl run ….you’ll enjoy it

My daughter competed in her first cross country event today. I said to her I didn’t care where she came as long as she sprinted to the finish line. She was feeling down about her running abilities so I wanted to buoy her up with the belief that effort is more important than position – us Brits are good at that approach although it doesn’t help us win medals. I said there would be a heap of chocolate to reward the effort if she did it. I stuck to my promise and got her some Mars bars, she returned with a medal and a grin – 75th out of 140 and proudly wearing her school’s strip. The experience she got in participating was fantastic and she didn’t take her medal off until it was time to go to bed.

There are so many good things that result from participating in sports, from camaraderie to pushing through psychological and physical barriers, regardless of age, ability or fitness levels. 

The thing is, as a child, I don’t remember feeling this way in sports. I was always freezing cold defending a lonely goal on a hockey pitch, wearing very unattractive gym pants and sweaty airtex shirts. Or I was endlessly picking up balls from the tennis court instead of hitting them. But I tried……I’m still trying now.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

It is our dog’s birthday on

Putting education in the Dragon’s Den……..with relatives

My daughter tried out an online tutor session called Maths Doctor. The main reason being my mother had suggested she would like to fund tutoring to help my daughter stand a chance of getting into a good secondary school. My daughter loved doing an online lesson but my Mum has now said that if I want to go ahead I have to ask other relatives to contribute 50%. I feel like I have been suddenly launched into an education version of The Dragons Den, but with all the emotional baggage to go with it. Plus my daughter’s expectations have been raised as she is already asking when the next session will take place…….I didn’t have the heart to say ‘once I have found a relative who is willing to pay £80 per month for them. Aaaahhh…don’t need this right now…

My husband is down in the dumps again about money, not helped by a £200 bill to make our toilet flush. My husband didn’t see the funny side when I pointed out the ‘flushing money away’ phrase. 

That hasn’t stopped me donating to the Comic Relief British Bake a Off – brilliant telly and a straightforward ask -£5 to protect a baby from pneumonia with a vaccination. 

Cakes and celebrities is strangely addictive watching. 

Tomorrow I am protesting against a biogas plant…..followed by coffee. I like each day to be a little different.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

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.

Thanks for reading.

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.

Thanks for reading.