The results are in.

I have so much to write about, big and small. And so I’m hardly writing at all. But today was a big day. A very big day indeed, the first full public exam results day.

Fran and I drove in to town first thing and got there at 9. There followed one of the trickiest of parent waits… Out in the car park while faces, happy and sad, ran or trailed back to cars.

One of those days where people who have arsed about discover that not working might not get you what you want.

And you have to hope that hard work and application and sticking power counts for something.

Then a text.

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Proving that she might have, against the odds, got a B in maths but she can’t actually count ;)

A* in Sports Studies, A in geography, A in RE, B in English, English, maths, science and a Distinction* in Dance to add to 3 Bs last year.

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She’s so happy and we are so proud. She has an ability to organise herself I have never learned; throughout the first half of this year she juggled gymnastics, coaching, dance, cello grade 4 and 2 huge dance exams as well as rugby training. She was only at home for a fraction of her week but the topics got ticked off the calendar and she stuck at it.

Well done Fran. Love you.

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The end of (this year’s school) days.

We made it. Only just and not without some pain, but we made it.

Maddy in a major Greek tragedy.

It’s the end of our first full year of schooling all of them. I’m pretty disgruntled about it, as I said before, but there are positives too. None of them want to leave so I suppose that is a positive. They all have positive relationships occurring in their schools, which is good. They’ve had some great teachers and they’ve had some dreadful ones.

As things stand, this is how we are. Maddy will remain at the school that all three big ones started the year at next year and probably for the next two years, till her GCSEs end. I can’t access her report but since it will be meaningless sentences and numbers, I won’t pay it much attention. Amelie moved mid year and came home with a report of sparkling, blinding intensity, that spoke of a talented but quiet (!) girl with a bright future. In 10 weeks they found out a lot about her (if not ALL, clearly!) Fran has left her current school and intends to join Amelie’s school for 6th form in September. Josie is going back, though she is adamant that she won’t be going to senior school until it is exam time, if then. Personally, I’d happily have her back at that point and I’d happily have Maddy back for the A Level years; it would make decisions of what to do with Bene far easier since I wobble between wanting to home educate and no. The school system for kids of that ages seems terribly pointless and sending him to school if all his sisters are in because he’s busy and boisterous and sociable and I think I might now be too lazy to home ed.

We’ve had a child in school for 3 years but it was this year that was my wake up call really. I learned some good things and some bad things.

This was the year I learned that metrics and league tables mean that a teacher might just choose not to prepare a child for an exam at all because Literature is not measured and accountable the way Language is. I learned that my big mistake was trusting that all people doing the job of a teacher are doing a good job and coping with the situation they are in. I learned that education truly is still my job because it was only spotting the crashing gaping hole in the middle of her knowledge that saved her at all.

I also learned there are are other teachers who will step in and try to help when they see how wrong something has gone, even when they, like I, know it is too little too late. But at least they tried.

I learned that, while it was too late to do enough this time, I would be really good at coaching English and that I will not make the same mistake with Maddy.

I learned that sometimes a kid will go into an exam having never done a single practise paper for it, because a teacher is too lazy, or too ostriched, or too inept to do what was needed and that when the results come out and the country only sees kids with D or E in exams about famous books, they will conclude it was the kids who are inept or lazy, they will think we might as well strike literature from the curriculum and those same kids, totally failed, will leave school believing that they are rubbish at literature and hate reading.

And that’s a tragedy.

I also learned that in a different school fabulous written work gets rewarded and the teachers are savvy enough not only to push that kid further but also to check their mum didn’t do the homework for them.

I also learned that a good junior school will listen to a parent who feels they might have made a mistake, will work in partnership with a parent and will correct the error because they happen to still think a parent opinion is important.

And I learned there are some amazing, passionate, fabulous teachers who will step outside the constructions of school etiquette to do what is right for a child, no matter what.

They get nice presents.

Unbelievably I warped the frame... So, it was supposed to be rustic, okay?

I learned that Fran had an amazing form teacher who is brilliant at spotting kids with talent. Maddy is part of a great gang of actors now who put on an amazing and very, very funny show.

I learned that Josie is developing just as I imagined she would, with slow but self driven language skills and a knack for maths. She got an amazing report but wrote on it that next year she wants harder work.

I learned that I have not paid close enough attention to helping Maddy organise herself and I need to support her more in that next year. She often quietly slips through the gaps, which isn’t fair.

More than anything else, this year I learned what a privileged schooling I had and how little harm I did the girls by keeping them out of the state system. I learned that I support teachers who strike because they are worn out with interference from the government and being asked to treat children like numbers. I cheered for them as Gove went down.

I also learned not to be afraid to bang the curtain down on a kid who can’t cope with the complexities of school and online life clashing. I took a Facebook account away, not without some personal angst and not without many warnings. I might have got outrage and fury but in fact I got relief and a happier girl.

There is a lesson in there.

I miss home ed terribly, I still do. I’m more disillusioned with the education system than I ever was even though I have more respect for teachers than I ever did. It is so broken though, so very broken and so very ineffective. We’re staying with it because the positives are there and you can’t go back really but six weeks of summer will not be enough.

Another crochet hat with a Hungry Caterpillar theme.

This book has been Bene’s favourite since the earliest of times. In fact, it has probably been all their favourite book at some point; I imagine that is why after 45 years, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is still going strong. I imagine that is why “pop!” and “caterpillar” and “sun” and “be-uuuutiful butterfly!” have been among his first words.

I imagine we will be doing lots of hungry caterpillar crafting over the coming months, if not years, and it is not hard to grasp, from that link, that it is a subject that captures an awful lot of little hearts.

“In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf.”

I think you could all do a line each in the comments box and we could get to the end, word perfect, without looking at a book at all.

(Top marks to the person who can do the junk food line perfectly without help.)

He loves it. They’ve all loved it. We read it to Fran in hospital, to all the others in their early days. Even to Freddie.

It’s the perfect book, written before literacy goals and learning objectives and worrying about developmental stages. A little story that sums it all up and ends so perfectly that I bet we all raise the book, flap the pages and help the butterfly fly away.

I made Bene a hat, one night when I was feeling kind. It’s all red, in MyBoshi yarn and a 6mm hook, following a basic beanie pattern and then I winged the face with circles I sewed on, a green rim and silly purple antennae made of a tight circle of 6 stitches. Maddy has pointed out I need to correct his eyes to be the perfect shape. I’ll probably never get round to it but even if this version does end up looking a bit like a gas mask, he will grow up knowing I took the time to indulge him.

The #hungrycaterpillar #myboshi #crochet hat

He wears it everywhere. I’m so glad he gets to do that.

“…and he wasn’t a little caterpillar any more…”