Results Day…

Seventeen years ago, I collected my exam results. There was no big fuss; my parents didn’t come with me; there was no fanfare. It was just another day. I was more excited about my upcoming holiday than I was about the contents of that brown envelope!

Receiving my results wasn’t a momentous event, for me. Before I even opened that envelope I knew I’d not done as well as I could have done. But I wasn’t too worried. I knew that I’d be able to go to college and do something. I knew things would work out. I guess my mum hadn’t pressured me into thinking that this was the be all and end all. So, I picked my results up, thanked my teachers, and left. I had finally finished school and was excited to see what the next chapter of my life would hold. I don’t ever remember feeling that the contents of that envelope would ever define me.

Since then, I’ve been a part of my students’ experience on Results Day, and each year I think back to sixteen year old Rachel and I reflect. I didn’t achieve amazing (or even good) exam results, yet I still had hope that I could go on to have a successful life. Why is it then that year on year I find myself consoling students who didn’t achieve an A* (or as of this year, in English, a grade 9)?

Every child matters? Seems to me that our Government only want every child to matter, if they are headed for A Levels or university. Those who have not managed to crack the tougher grading do not seem to be given any hope.


After all, what is there to hope for? It seems that when students do achieve instead of their achievements being celebrated the goal posts are moved! Now, I’m all for progression, but I’m not sure this elitist attitude towards ensuring a clear distinction in what have been described as the ‘best’ learners is progress.

Who defines best? Who says that being able to write at length, and paraphrase quotes from 19th Century literature is best? Who says being able to work out simultaneous equations in a set amount of time, using a prescribed formulae in order to achieve the full three marks is best?

Where’s the exam that measures grit, determination and resilience?

I am an English teacher at a PRU (pupil referral unit). A school that provides education to students who for various reasons are unable to attend mainstream school. Now, not all my students put in the time and effort needed to achieve what the government consider a ‘good’ grade. That’s their choice. Some can blame family circumstances; some can blame disruption to education; but ultimately it was down to them.

But what about the kids who didn’t give up? I’ll give you an example. Student A was admitted into the Local Authority Care system at a young age. Student A was abused and passed from pillar to post as a results. Student A was deemed too disruptive for mainstream school and sent to our PRU at the start of their GCSE year. During the time of their GCSEs Student A was passed again through three different homes. Student A still attended school everyday and left with seven GCSEs plus other qualifications. Student A cried because they didn’t achieve an A* or a grade 9.

WTF???

Student A is one of many students who have a range of talents and who will achieve in life, but only if we stop measuring success by exam performances. Due to this I’m reflecting on my teaching. Some might think that I need to change my teaching style to ensure that all students achieve the grade 9. Well I’m not. I’m going to ensure that I plough bucket loads of grit, determination and resilience into my students, and reassure them that if they don’t get a perfect set of results it’s not the end of the world.

Rach x

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A day at…Guisborough Forest & Walkway

What to do today🤔

The sun is shining and the temperature is an acceptable 22 degrees Celsius. There’s only one thing for it: A day at the park.

A day out always starts with an almighty row over where we are going, followed by an hour of me throwing clothes at Dylan and ranting and raving at him to get ready. Dylan hates going out. He gets anxious about who we’ll see and what we’ll be doing. Shay loves going out, and gets frustrated with his brother’s anxiety. (I’ll save an explanation for Dylan’s anxiety for a future post.) Although we go through this everytime we leave the house, I know that once we’re out we’ll have a good time.

The boys and I are lucky enough to live not too far from an array of parks and walkways. Today’s choice was Guisborough Forest & Walkway.

Not only does the forest offer plenty of trees and natural wildlife to explore, but it features fun activities for the whole family to enjoy. From an orienteering course and trim trail for active mums, dads and kids, to a Gruffalo spotter trail and play area for little ones, it really is a lovely place to spend the day.

We decided to pass the onsite cafe and gift shop and head for the trim trail. The trim trail offers a range of challenges-think monkey bars and leap frog-for you to complete as you walk through the forest. This was great fun! More so because apart from Shay enjoying a game of football, we have no sporting ability or level of fitness.

We screamed with laughter at each other attempting the monkey bars. We winced as Shay went arse over tit whilst leap frogging the wooden poles. And we gave onlookers a giggle as we bunny hopped from side to side on the ‘ski jump’ poles!


After completing the trim trail, we headed for the play area. There are several play areas in the forest, along with picnic benches and walkways, so picking the perfect spot for you and the family is no problem.

We decided on a bench next to more climbing equipment, and enjoyed racing each other up the cargo net and playing tig (I won, of course!).


Our day out ended with an ice cream and smiles. How lovely would it be if every day could end like this?


I hope your Monday has ended in a smile, also:-)

Rach x

All about me-Guest Blog by my youngest🙋🏼‍♂️

Well, they’re back! The boys are back from their week away. Normality has resumed. After dramatic cries of, “We’ve missed you!” and “It’s soooo good to be home!” normality quickly resumed and the calls of, “What’s for tea?” and “My iPad is out of charge!” could be heard around the house. Dylan soon retreated to his ‘pit’ to greet his sorely missed PlayStation, leaving Shay to reclaim his status as King of Netflix. And you know what? As much as I’ve then had Mother Guilt all evening for not taking them somewhere, and spending money I don’t have in order to welcome them home, I’ve loved our evening. I’ve loved making tuna pasta for three, and returning to life WITH boys. 

My youngest is a big YouTube fan, so when I told him that I’d started a blog I could see that my ‘cool’ status had gone up a notch. Admist the questions about my blog, he then said that he’d like to write a blog. 

So, I handed him my phone and told him to give it a go. 

I’m Shay Campbell and this is all about me.

I’m 10 years old and my favourite things to do include playing football and watching YouTube videos. I love Middlesbrough FC (because they are my hometown) and Barcelona FC. I also love The Sidemen (they’re YouTubers).

I’ve got a brother called Dylan. He’s very annoying but I still love him. Dylan is 12 years old and his favourite thing to do is play on the PlayStation. 
I’m going into Y6 after the six weeks holidays which I’m kind of excited (and a little bit nervous as well). My school is really big. There’s over 600 kids in my school! I like school because it’s fun! We have water gun fights and we celebrate things like Chinese New Year Christmas and other celebrations from around the world. 

That’s it for now! 


Short, but sweet:-) 
Rach and Shay x


 

A day at…Wynyard Hall Spa

With the boys on holiday, my very thoughtful sister organised a spa day.

My sister is my opposite; she’s amazing! She is seven years younger than me, but sometimes I forget that I am the ‘big’ sister. 

In true ‘Sophie’ fashion, she arrived promptly at 10am to pick me up. I think she was surprised that I was ready on time-I’m late for everything-and so we set off to pick our mum up on the way to the spa. 

As we arrive at the old Victorian boathouse, the clouds seem to be shifting and the sun shining-perfect! 

As you walk through the glass paned wooden doors at Wynyard Hall Spa, you are greeted with calming music, and the most beautiful scent of cedar wood, jasmine and lavender instantly washes over you. 
We’re shown into the changing area, where we are handed towels, a robe and slippers. Obviously, I’d decided to put my ‘cossie’ on, under my clothes before getting ready that morning, so within moments I was ready to go! 

First order of the day: order an overpriced bottle of wine. We then headed to the outdoor whirlpool, overlooking the lake that surrounds the spa. 

After spending the best part of two hours enjoying the whirlpool, steam room, sauna and relaxation room, we are then escorted to the Mud Rasul chamber. This is a brilliant cleansing and softening treatment. Aside from the benefits the minerals offer your tired skin, it is a treatment that you can enjoy as a group. So, head to toe in varying colours of mud, we spent 30 minutes trying not to slide off our marble seats whilst the room fills with steam. 

After we’ve showered off the mud, we take ourselves off to the relaxation room, and plonk our new, softly pampered bums on the heated tiled seats and chill. An experience that everyone should indulge in, every now and then. 


Sophie is getting married at Wynyard Hall next weekend, so I may just have to take another visit to the spa. I’ll keep you posted:-) 

Rach x

My So-Called Life withOUT boys…

So, August is a time for holidays. It’s official. Everyone in the entire world is on holiday! (Well, that’s how it feels!)

I know not everyone in the entire world is on holiday. And, I am from the persuasion that a holiday is a luxury and not a necessity. But, for this week, I’m having a moan and a whinge.

This week is my so-called life withOUT boys, as they have gone on holiday with their dad and grandparents.

“We’ll FaceTime you every day!”

And to their’s and their dad’s credit, they have.

IMG_0363IMG_0365I won’t lie; after waving the boys off, I returned home and ugly cried. Wading through the crap strewn all over the floor in their rooms, I made my way to their beds, and I sobbed. I was aching for them to be home, and they hadn’t even left the country, yet! How was I going to get through the rest of the week?

Thankfully, this dramatic grieving-which lasted all of around half an hour-stopped. I love my boys, but I quickly realised that a week without them wouldn’t be that terrible, after all.

Knowing they’re happy and having a fun filled time in the sun, makes me happy.

Another thing that makes me happy is alcohol and sinful food. I’m in Day 4 of the boys’ departure, and so far my days and nights have been filled with good company, fatty food and alcohol.

So, as August really is the official holiday month, I suspect there are a lot of people having to spend time away from loved ones. I’m only half way through, but so far so good.

Rach x

 

My So-Called Life

Welcome to my first blog. So-called as I am constantly questioning myself, and what I am doing with my life.

Firstly, I am a mum.

No, this is not another parenting blog filled with beautiful, candid shots of curly haired under fives, enjoying the wonders of life. I don’t have a list of the best baby products to use, or a weekly review of a Mamas and Papas state of the art ‘travel system’ (or as it was once known as pram with car seat). My house isn’t something out of ‘House Beautiful’ or ‘Country Home’ and despite how much I read those magazines, it never will be (I don’t enjoy cleaning, whatsoever).

Don’t get me wrong; I love those ‘mama and me’ style blogs and social media feeds, that celebrate the love that the blogger has for her (or his) family. I follow them all, and swoon over their Instagram idyllic lives, whilst wondering how they do it. How they enchant their readers/viewers with daily snippets of their ‘ordinary’ lives.

I am a mum to two boys. My eldest is about to embark on his second year of senior school (or compulsory Hell, as I remember it). Whilst my youngest is looking forward to returning to school, for he is going into year six, and feel he is finally ‘grown’ and king of the playground…

Secondly, I am a teacher.

No, I am not a primary school teacher with lots of creative ideas, and ‘How to’ guides for entertaining your precious sprogs during rainy days. I wish I was, but I’m not.

I work, full time, as an English teacher. However, please do not expect word perfect writing; I attended school in the late 80s and 90s, when creativity and flair was celebrated, and spelling, punctuation and grammar were taught, but not with the emphasis (and policing) that it is now. Somehow, I also managed to work my way up to dizzy heights of senior leadership, and hold the position of Assistant Headteacher.

Teachers are constantly reviewing their practice: what could I have done better? I am my biggest critic, so you will not read about how marvellous my day has been. I have what every mum has: Mother Guilt. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Instead, you will (if you choose to continue reading) hear about my simple observations of what is, my so-called life with boys. Warts and all.

I figured it might give me some clarity on what I’m doing…or at least a collection of multitudinous thoughts and feelings that I can look back on and probably whisper to myself, “what the fuck were you thinking?” (Apologies; I’m a sweary mum.)

So here it goes…

Hi, my name is Rachel and this is my so-called life.