I sent them to a failing school. So how are they so smart my head hurts?

Never mind chocolate bunnies, I think I should be keeping brains in the jars in order to figure out how my kids got to be so much smarter than me.

Easter Sunday. Surely a day for lounging around and indulging in chocolate until you feel sick? Well, that was my plan.

Except this morning Boo invented a new game of ‘Buff!’ – essentially balloon volleyball, but with ever-changing rules and a massively complicated scoring system. (‘Buff!’ by the way is so named because that’s the sound made by a balloon being punched into the air, not because of any lack of clothes.) I would like to strangle thank Boo’s teacher for so comprehensively teaching her fractions.

‘You lose half a point because I had to second tap that to you. You’ve got 8 and a half.’

A bit later:

‘You hit that with the wrong part of your hand. You lose 1/4 point. That gives you 5 and a quarter.’

Within seconds:

‘You lose another 1/2 point,’ (for breathing, I assume). ‘What’s your score now?’

At the same time Boo launches a multi-balloon option.

‘Errrr.’ I thought I was all right at multi-tasking. Not so.

‘4 and three quarters. Keep up.’

After losing 1 3/4 to 7 1/2, I scurry to the kitchen to get on with the roast. I may have to work out the timings, but at least the leg of lamb isn’t going to quiz me.

Once the food is on the table however, rather than us all just sitting down to stuff our faces with meat and vegetables Boo launches us into a theological debate.

‘Hands up if you believe Easter is because Jesus came back to life.’

A slightly tricky question as we’re largely a family of atheists, but also keen not to look as though we’ve jumped on the holiday purely for the chocolate. I swear Grandy pretended not to hear. Partial deafness comes in very handy sometimes.

Indy responds, however, with a counter-argument about Eostre, which slightly went over my head (but you can read about it here). It’s not to Boo’s liking though. She has further questions to quiz us on the symbolism of Easter. Indy keeps adding her knowledge of pre-Christianity to the mix.

Personally, beyond the Easter Bunny I just get confused. Although I’m happy to embrace Indy’s claim that we should include snakes in Easter celebrations to symbolise re-birth, but only if it means I can eat my body weight in The Natural Confectionery Company’s Jelly Snakes and Sour Squirms (OK, they’re worms, but close enough) and no actual real-life snakes are involved.

It’s Easter. Bring on the snakes!

Mercifully, just as Husband launches into how clever the Romans were to pin Jesus’ crucifixion on the Jews Noodles wakes up from his nap and I escape the table for a cuddle on the sofa instead…and to watch snooker from 1985 (ah, don’t they put the best things on TV on Easter Sunday?).

The thing is though, in the past 9 months both Boo’s primary school and the twins’ high school have been deemed to be failing to such an extent they’ve been taken out of County Council hands and forced into Academy status. The primary school also failed their Ofsted inspection when the twins were in Year 1. Back then, just as now, the most problematic class was the one my children were in. If the reports are correct, Boo shouldn’t be able to count to 10, much less subtract fractions and multiply 7 by 14. She should struggle to spell her name, not know about tessellation, split digraphs and onomatopoeia. (I certainly didn’t know about such things at 6. Boo’s favourite game is finding adults who don’t know stuff she’s learnt at school. She got a clean sweep when it came to the split digraphs. So it’s not just me being stupid either.) Meanwhile Indy by rights should have failed her A levels as pupils are unable to string thoughts together and are too poorly behaved to surely sit through entire exams, much less complete their papers to a standard high enough to get to university.

Now, either Ofsted have got it wrong (possibly to ensure schools become academies as the government would like? Just saying) or I have exceptionally intelligent children. Yes, they’re bright, but they’re not the only ones in their cohorts. Which seems to suggest Ofsted are short-sighted at best, abject liars willing to help the government sell off state schooling to the first bidder at worst.

On 1st April Boo’s school was taken over by the local college. New signs have gone up over the holidays. The headteacher lost a large chunk of her capacity to shape the school to her way of thinking, which is a fundamental shame as she has an ability to look at the whole child, not just their grades. The new partnership is going to be a lot more target focused, which I fear means teaching children how to answer test questions correctly, rather than giving them a proper education and teaching them how to think. The same partnership will also be taking over the high school in coming months. This could be Boo’s and Noodles’ futures until they’re 18.

Which might mean mealtimes will become less of a theological discussion group. My head will spin less, but that won’t necessarily be a better thing.

This really isn’t the direction I saw this post going, but this has been playing on my mind for a while. I really hope, much like Boo herself, her new school proves me completely wrong.

In the meantime I can’t get my head completely around it, much the same as I still don’t understand the rules/scoring of Buff! The children clearly haven’t got their intelligence from me either.

I think I’ll just have to put my concerns back to the back of my mind for now. Maybe shoving some chocolate in my face will help. There is a fair bit lying around right now.



14 thoughts on “I sent them to a failing school. So how are they so smart my head hurts?”

    1. That’s a scary thought! And I don’t blame the teachers or the heads, who all have targets and stringent curriculums thrust upon them. It’s forever the government looking only at things that can be easily quantifiable. It makes me livid. Hrumph indeed.

      1. Oh, I could tell you many stories on this one just on the son I still have living at home right now. It is indeed “forever the government” and the standards they set down but aren’t responsible for maintaining…….problem is…..it’s the kids that end up paying the final price right now. But hopefully, mothers like us, can make the difference…at least for our kids!

  1. Oh I so share your thoughts about tbe reasons for so many ‘failing’ schools, particularly in our area, but I am away from laptop and on my phone and can’t possibly tap all my concerns out on here! Another great post – I love deviation!

  2. The game your daughter invented reminds me of the I Love Lucy episode where Ethel and Lucy make a crazy game of golf with “Mother May I?” rules and nutty terminology and penalties to teach Ricky and Fred a lesson. Big Lucy fan here, but I’ll shut up if you’re not. Anyhow, our school system is getting an entire revamp as well here and the parents are completely up in arms because the test scores are all that matters to the district so they can get their funding but the fact that they now are adopting a teaching style that is completely counter-intuitive to children means nothing. Pass the chocolate, please. I’m Jewish and chocolate covered Matzah is simply not cutting it right now!!!

    1. I love I Love Lucy! It’s what the Hallmark Channel was made for (until Husband cut me off)! I’ve been trying to find a clip on YouTube to show Boo – she’d love it too. Mind you, she’d then also want to set up a basketball court in our living room.
      Perhaps education systems would just be better if they just played Lucy episodes. That one where she’s learning to talk English properly and Ricky’s trying to read the story? The ridiculousness of English phonics in a hysterical 5-minute chunk. Makes more sense than whatever they’re trying to do at the minute. Xx

  3. Love the buff and the fractions – genius!! The whole school system is a frightening one at the moment and it fills me with dread, my eldest starting in Sept 😦 Speaking to my friends there seems to be an increased move to sending kids home with ‘issues’ for parents to deal with, rather than managing probs with discipline etc in the classroom. The government’s agenda is worrying and it does make you wonder about ‘failing’ schools. On the plus side, your kids are clearly all bright sparks and I”m sure that your children who are still in the education system will do fine 🙂 (though I acknowledge that I HATE it when people say that to me when i worry about schools, lol – just difficult to know what else to say, so please forgive me? ha ha)

    1. I have a theory that there are people sat in government offices with a big pile of paper and to justify their salaries every now and then they take a sheet from the bottom of the pile and put it on the top and hail it as a new learning system. I’ve lost count of the different ways I’ve seen things like phonics and number bonds taught. Or from topic learning, to subject-focused and back to topics again. And then rewards and sanctions systems change all the time too. It’s a wonder our kids know which direction to face, let alone manage to learn anything.
      The best of luck for September. I’m sure it will all be fine, but it is scary when the system seems flawed. As parents we’re the ones who are meant to screw our kids up, not the education system.

      1. I know – is really frightening – and now they’re introducing national tests for four year old that my youngest will benefit from – oh, the joy! 😦

      2. With any luck they won’t be much different to the baseline assessments they already do (the other thing government loves is announcing something as ‘new’ when what they actually mean is they’re jiggling things a bit) but it does get to a point where the focus is on assessment to the detriment of learning for learning’ s sake.

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