Friday, 29 January 2010

Keep trying!!

I know my way around the web, and my pc, and my wireless network. But I can't get this blog to publish to my twitter. FFS.


Today I made a decision. It was a decision to do nothing. That's quite monumental for me, but instinctively I know it was the right decision. A little bit of background follows.

I have been studying with the Open University since 2004. Mainly short, level 1 courses, with a vague idea to get a degree one day. I made use of the student forums (hereafter known as FC, short for FirstClass, the software that hosts the forums) and as a result became involved, at a minor level with the student association OUSA. In 2007, I stood for election and won, the post of Vice President Communications on the Executive Committee of OUSA. At the next annual Conference I was elected Deputy President. Halfway through my term in office, I resigned, due to impending birth and stress. The job is voluntary, and extremely stressful. Office politics abound. It was quite a relief not to have to navigate my way through that minefield anymore. I did regret that I hadn't managed to complete the work I'd started though.

Hence, when I heard last month that the current incumbent of the office of V P Communications was not seeking re-election, I wondered whether I should go for it again. I pondered and mused, and bounced some ideas around with people I could trust. And lo, the politics started all over again! People on power trips, plotting and scheming to get to the top, with little consideration of the people they're supposed to represent, the students of the OU. Fuck that! I've only just got my brain back to normal, why on earth would I put myself through that again!

I'm putting my kids through their GCSEs between now and June 2011, and I really need to concentrate on them, helping them make the most of their abilities. I don't have any desire to study for myself at the moment, so representing students isn't top of my priority list, no matter how much I think I can do, no matter how many ideas I have. It would be a battle just to get the smallest things done.

So, instead of scrambling around for nominations, writing election addresses, preparing for hustings, attending several weekend meetings, arranging childcare and so on, I've decided to do nothing, not to stand, and just carry on as I am. I've done the right thing.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

All aboard for the ride of your life!

Things I had planned to do today: Get up early, set Kianna up with her lessons, help Charley with her maths, print more coursework, sort out the coursework schedule, find out the exam dates, knit some rows on the shawl I am knitting for mum.

Things I managed to do today: Help Charley with her maths, find out the exam dates, um, yeah, that's it.

I didn't get up early. However this isn't my fault for being a lazy arse (though I am a lazy arse), it's purely the fault of a certain Mr Andrew Murray, who had the audacity to lose the first set of his semi-final. This meant I had to stay in bed and give the match my full attention. It worked, he won. But I lost the entire morning to this job. Luckily, Kennie took over the lessons for Kianna, so when I eventually ventured downstairs, I was all set to help Charley with her coursework. Index Notation. Great. I was never any good at this, so we had a great time working it all out together. But boy, it took ages. So no printing got done. I did find out the exam dates though, 7th and 11th June. Which gives us 18 weeks to do 19 units. Plus revision. It's gonna be tight. I suggested that she went for the November sitting, but no, she wants to get it out of the way. So June it is. Expect lots of Maths related rants on this blog in the next 4 months!

Knitting didn't get done either. We'll be watching Torchwood this evening, and I need to choose between knitting and printing while it's on. Somehow I think knitting will win. I'm making a shawl for my mum, who has breast cancer. I originally had planned to have it ready for 10th Feb, the day of her operation. The her op got moved to 3rd Feb, and Charley left school, and it all went a bit belly up. So now I'm hoping to have it ready for 13th Feb, my mum's birthday. Mum has invited me and my brother to stay at her house for her birthday, very unusually. I think she's worried it will be her last birthday on this earth so wants her family round. That's cool, I can totally understand. I was actually looking forward to it. Till I spoke to my brother. It turns out she has also invited other members of the family. Which means I'll be on show. And they don't like me. I'm too direct, too hippy, not conventional enough for them all. And I can't get out of it. It also means that my gift of a hand-knitted shawl will be opened in front of them, and subject to scrutiny. Bollocks. Insecurity and social anxiety, oh how I love thee.

My head is full of so much shit, too many thoughts all buzzing about and no way to control them. This year is gonna be a roller-coaster...

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Clause 26, Schedule 1. CSF Bill

There is a Bill going through parliament at the moment that will severely curtail the rights of parents to educate their children at home. The report which the section about home education was based on was severely flawed. More info can be found here. For now, here is a press release composed by members of the Badman Review Action Group (BRAG) (Badman being the surname of the man who wrote the flawed report)

Child Abusers to have greater legal protection than ordinary parents , Social Workers insist

Under proposed legislation, parents who abuse their children will have more rights than ordinary parents who opt to teach their children themselves.
These changes will apply to all families who decide for whatever reason that their children's educational needs are better met in the home environment EVEN IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY WELFARE OR SAFEGUARDING CONCERNS.

In evidence submitted to the Scrutiny Committee for the Children, Schools and Families bill, social workers Imran Shah and Cintha Archer stated, “As home-educating parents ourselves, we would enjoy greater legal safeguards if we were abusing our children than we would do for educating them at home. We find it perverse that Schedule 1 [of the CSF bill] will give local authorities greater powers to act over families who are providing loving care than they have over families where children are being abused or are at risk of abuse.”

Mr. Shah and Ms. Archer enumerated their ethical and legal concerns about the proposed legislation in their submission, chief of which is the fact that, “There is no statutory requirement within the text of this Bill for local authorities to act in the child's best interests. As experienced social workers we are alarmed at this omission, which gives administrative procedures primacy over children's needs. Since there is no obligation on local authorities to have the best interests of the child as their central and overriding concern, the new powers will be damaging to the well-being of the child.”

Schedule 1 powers will not only remove any legal obligation the local authority has to safeguard the home educated child's best interests, say Shah and Archer, it will also remove the rights of legal redress from home educating families. This, they maintain, will be particularly onerous for families where class, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability,ethnicity or culture are a consideration. Local authorities will have no legal requirement to consider the impact of its actions on families or children for whom these factors are an issue, even though social workers and social policy makers accept that these families are the ones that fare the worst in dealing with government and its agents.

Shah and Archer insist that they are simply arguing for fairness and equality before the law. “We are not arguing for the removal of the protections that are afforded to the families who are subject to social services intervention, merely stressing that it is unjust to not extend those same protections to those families who are educating their children at home as an expression of their loving commitment to their children. Local authorities already have the powers that they need to ensure that children are safe and that their educational and other needs are being met.

Schedule 1 is unjust, illiberal and damaging to home-educating families and their
children, and we ask for it to be removed from the CSF bill.”

The full text of Mr. Shah’s and Ms. Archer’s submission is available at

Intro - Or - My first ramble...

I'm Rita. I'm 38. I have bright red/pink/purple/blue hair (delete as appropriate). I'm married with 6 children. I home educate 5 of them. I won't end up home educating the eldest, she leaves school this year. I knit. A lot. But not as much as I'd like to. I used to study with the OU, and probably will again. But not this year. My politics are left of centre, but I am horrified at some of the draconian laws that the current govt have brought in or are trying to bring in. I have supported Chelsea Footbal Club since I was 8 years old. I like tennis. I've had several blogs in the past, but couldn't keep up with them all being separate topics, so I'm starting this one. It will be about everything and anything. And I won't forget to update it. Hopefully.