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Seriously non-routine week - dorsetgirl
July 10th, 2012
10:28 am
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Seriously non-routine week
My children are all off-timetable this week, in fact the whole school is. Year 7 and 8 are on trips, Year 9 and 10 are doing various projects and stuff, Year 11 and 13 have left after their exams and Year 12 are getting ready for university applications.

The eldest spent yesterday learning about writing his Personal Statement for his UCAS stuff, and starting on his first draft. I dunno if it’s even a word, but tersity, he haz it, so this is going to be something of a painful process. Today he’s being introduced to the applications website and getting some information on finance. I’m just trying not to think about the terrifying amounts of money involved, and remembering what Martin Lewis said about it not being parents’ responsibility to provide all, or even any of, the money.

Middle one had exercises in teamwork yesterday; like the rest of the family he doesn’t see the point in working with a team when you can nearly always do everything much quicker and better on your own, but I was able to give him some examples of a management course I went on once, and of the one effective team I’ve ever been part of, to show him that it can actually be useful to have others around providing they have complementary skills. My aim was to send him off in a more positive mood and to get him to think about what skills he could bring to a team, rather than moaning about having to be in a team at all. I think it worked - he had a good time, it seems, and enjoyed the various projects. Today, those of his year group who have parents in useful jobs are shadowing said parents for the day. I wrote a coldly angry letter to the school on this subject, pointing out that this was perpetuating privilege and basically discriminating against anyone whose parents aren’t in fancy jobs that will allow them to have their kids in for the day. I never got a reply, but two days later the organiser sent out a note asking if anyone could offer a placement for the day to a second student as well as their own precious. Nothing doing there, apparently, so middle son is spending the day on some “GCSE Maths Preparation”, whatever the hell that is. I suspect a cover teacher and a load of trivial worksheets.

Youngest is away in Normandy! It always amazes me how big a hole is left in the house by just one person being away, especially as we hardly ever see this one nowadays; he spends a lot of time upstairs doing incredibly complicated redstone stuff in Minecraft. Anyway, he went off at 6 o’clock yesterday morning, slightly nervous and still not knowing who he was going to be sharing a room with. Looking at the itinerary, it seems to be a World War Two gig (reading up on the places he’s going to I was astonished to read that the Germans had batteries in France that could, and did, actually hit England; I had no idea) but I always think the main point of these trips is to accustom the kids to being away without their families. It’s something that practically by definition, you can’t do for your own kids, so it’s good that schools do these things. He’ll be home tomorrow evening.

Tomorrow, oldest son starts his three days’ work shadowing. He’s been very fortunate to get something fixed up that should appeal quite strongly to his aptitudes and interests. It’s perfectly possible, if a little long-winded, for him to get there by public transport, but it will probably be easier if I give him a lift. So that’s my project for this afternoon - find out where the place is. And this evening’s project will be a brief canter through the practicalities and etiquette of office life. He says he knows all about office life (I don’t know how), but I bet it hasn’t occurred to him that a small company probably won’t have a canteen and that the nearest food is quite likely a twenty minute walk away. I just hope they have a sandwich lady. (Um, sexism alert? Dunno - I've never seen a sandwich man, is all I can say.)

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Date:July 10th, 2012 10:33 am (UTC)
I was astonished to read that the Germans had batteries in France that could, and did, actually hit England

Yep - Hellfire Corner. I think it's something I originally heard of from my parents. I found this Pathe video:

I was in the Calais area a few years ago; we passed those batteries as we were driving along - it was a weird feeling. We had some long range guns on the cliffs above Dover too, but I don't think they were used so much.

We never had all these end of term activities in my schooldays. Even after you'd done your A Levels and were about to leave school, you still had to turn up to everything on the timetable and the teachers were supposed to think of something to do with you. One boy in my form was expelled two weeks before the end of term because he refused to turn up to lessons and went to read on the playing field instead.
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Date:July 10th, 2012 10:47 am (UTC)
My parents were only ten at the end of the War; my Mum remembers seeing trainloads of soldiers going off to what she later realised must have been the D-Day landings, but in general the War didn't really have much effect on her apart from having to share her school with evacuees from Southampton. Being only five at the beginning she wouldn't have known any different anyway, I suppose. Presumably that kind of thing wasn't publicised during the war so you'd only really know about it if you were actually in Kent. I will have a look at that video later on - thanks for the link.

Yes, we still had to go in every day, although I have no recollection of what we actually did. We were threatened with no references, etc, if we didn't turn up. As you say, there certainly weren't the trips they have now, but I think it's finally dawned on schools that once the exams are over you need to either keep the kids engaged or get rid of them one way or another. My children's primary school acknowledged this: once the SATs were done (which they didn't make a big deal of anyway), Year 6 concentrated practically all their efforts on "The Year 6 Production", and what a production it generally was. But it gave them skills and experiences that they were never going to get in formal education, which - it struck me this morning as I tried to work out how to put an emergency patch on a pair of school trousers - was a concept missing from my own schooldays.
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Date:July 10th, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
We have a sandwich man!
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Date:July 11th, 2012 01:41 pm (UTC)
I can only hope for his sake that he's not too pretty!
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Date:July 14th, 2012 12:06 pm (UTC)
heh, no, he looks like a cheerful elderly goblin! XD
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