Monday, 25 January 2021

Weekly Update

 (Ignoring that I seem to be doing them fortnightly atm.)

I weighed myself for the first time since December today and I was only* 94.2kg! (*only, compared to the weight I thought I was.) I am still reading The Diet Trap Solution, and have actually been doing the exercises.

I am also trying to be more mindful about what I am eating.  I am still keeping track of what I eat, but trying to remember to sit at the table and eat slowly.  (Not that I think there is anything wrong with eating not at a table, rather that I tend to do something else at the same time when I'm on the sofa, even if it's watching TV or playing on my phone whilst eating.)

Today I made miso and noodle soup for lunch, which was delicious.  I need to remind myself that taking an extra 5min to cook myself something proper, rather than just having toast and butter, is definitely worth it in terms of taste, calories and nutrition.

Recipe for 2 people (or 4 as starter):

  • garlic clove
  • shallot/onion
  • ginger
  • miso paste
  • mirin
  • tahini
  • stock
  • green veg
  • 1 nest of rice noodles
  • boiled egg
Blitz the first 6 ingredients together to form a paste.
Cook the paste for 2-3 min in a saucepan so it is fragrant but not burning.
Add the stock, green veg and noodles and cook for 5-10 min on a gentle simmer.
Dish up into bowls, and serve with a boiled egg on top.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Weekly Update

I have finally finished decorating my study!  Well, the big bits, anyway.  It is painted and has furniture, so though there are a few extra bits and pieces I'm waiting on, it is useable.  And I have been using it all morning, and it is fab!

I have been keeping up tracking my food and exercise. I'm still plowing through the chocolates that I was given for Christmas (I hope I have finished them now) so I've not been dieting as such, merely keeping a note of what I have been consuming.
I am not walking as much as I'd hope, either atm.  I really am quite busy during the day and when it's dark and dreary or wet I cba.  Hopefully the evenings will start to noticeably lighten soon, and that will change.

I have started (re)reading a new book - Diet Trap Solution by Beck and Beck.  I read it before a few years ago, and it's really good.  Very practical, so I need to actually find the time to do some of the exercises, rather than just reading them and moving on.

I have started doing some FutureLearn courses though.  These have been focussed on education, activism and my current course is all about propaganda and mythology.  I managed to do a few in a few days over the Christmas break, but now life is back to normal, I have set aside Monday afternoons to do a week's worth of study of one course (that's usually 2-6 hours, depending on the course).

I still have my book reviews to write, and I'm not reading at all enough compared to what I'd like.  The other half of my room now has a sofa bed in it, so I can hide away up here and read when I want.  The negative of my dog thinking I'm her mum is that she suffers with separation anxiety if she's away from me.  When I'm tutoring, I have her by my feet in this room (she's quieter that way) whereas right now, I have left her downstairs so I can try and build up her tolerance to me not being around ALL the time.  Working from home, I am around most the time, but I already have my own shadow, and I don't need another one, lol.

Monday, 4 January 2021

Weekly Update - Happy New Year!

Today is the first day back to work/school for many people and I'm feeling pleasantly optimistic.  I'm not entirely sure about what, exactly, but it feels good. 
Possibly because I woke up at a decent time this morning so feel like I have loads of time today? 
Possibly that I have nearly finished painting my new room (which will be my study) so I can soon buy some furniture to go in there (I'm using up paint from the house, so have one wall left, which I hope to paint today)? 
Possibly because, admittedly only 4 days in, I have managed to track my eating and exercise every day of the year so far?  I am still not weighing myself, but am trying to ensure that I track everything I consume.  I have also started rereading The Diet Trap Solution by Beck and Beck, as I find this book really practical.

Christmas decorations were taken down yesterday, and though they haven't been put away yet (they need to go into DD1's room, but she's doing pandemic schooling in there atm) the living room looks tidier and more spacious already; and it will look even bigger when the sofa bed is moved into my new room upstairs!

I also bought myself a new toy after Christmas (no, not that kind! Lift your mind from the gutter, lol) - an easy dryer 3000!  Actually, the real name is eezy dry 1300 or something like that, but I think 3000 sounds better, lol.  Our washing machine is a washer dryer, so that means in the winter months (when I can't hang washing outside) I can only wash and dry 1 load of washing each day.  Now, I am getting through a minimum of 2 a day (I may not have done any washing at all over the Christmas period, so have a lot to catch up on...) and there is the added benefit of the house smelling of clean washing.

So, happy 2021.  I pray this year is an improvement on the last one xx

Thursday, 31 December 2020

My Books of 2020

I had set myself the challenge on Goodreads to read 70 books this year, and I smashed that by reading over 80! 

Next year, however, I'm going to be setting myself the more modest target of 50 books.  The reason for that is because I'm actually reading less when we're in lockdown!  At the start of Lockdown 1, I was reading a lot - everything had stopped, I was advised to self isolate, and it was sunny, so I was sat in the garden reading lots.  Bliss!  However, I was then told that I shouldn't have been told to self isolate, worked started up again (albeit virtually) and when the girls' dance classes started up, the parents couldn't wait inside, so I was driving more frequently back and forth, rather than waiting in the carpark in the cold, and when we brought our puppy home, I was then using that time to take her for walks - so even less reading.

So, here is my completed list of all the books that I have read this year, with links to my reviews - I have tried to review the books without giving away any spoilers.

Keen-eyed people may note that the last few don't have working links as yet, and that's because I haven't published the reviews yet, but when I do, I'll update this page.



Christian Inspirational

So that's my list!  The formatting is a bit funny, but I thought 'sod that'.  The point of this post is to highlight the books, so I've left them large.  And yes, there are some books that fit into multiple categories, so I tried to put them in the most relevant one.

I don't have a favourite book of the year, but going through them all again now has reminded me of some pleasant memories.  I hope some of these titles call out to you, and you enjoy reading them as much as I have.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Weekly Update - End of Year

I hope you have all had a good Christmas, despite the difficulties of not seeing friends and family because of Covid.

I had a nice relaxing time with my family and new pup.  We opened presents, ate a late lunch, and relaxed altogether.

Since then, I've started decorating my new room.  As we finished DD1's room, she has now moved up into the attic, and my room has been emptied.  So, I've painted one wall today, and I hope to paint the other three walls tomorrow.  I can then start buying furniture for it.  The biggest thing to go in there is a sofa bed, which we already have, but it'll be moved upstairs and I've got a new cover to go on it, so it will match the rest of the room.

I do need to do my Self-Assessment for my tutoring work.  I've never left it this late before.  I said the same last year, when I finally did it in October.  I just hope that next year, I don't leave it another 3+ months after the date I complete it this year (since the deadline is 31st January!).

After the New Year, I'll start reading up on the Home Ed stuff again, and fighting both locally and nationally.  Having my own work room will help me stay organised.

I still have one book review to write up, and ideally, I'd like to finish 3 of the books that I am currently reading, and write up reviews of those.  I'll then go through the whole year to give a complete list of the 70+books I have read this year.  Next year, I think I will lower the number of books I plan to read to about 50.  Not to say that I don't think I could read that many again, but if I am getting involved in other things, perhaps studying more too, I simply won't have time to read as much as I have done recently.  I am not sitting in the dance studios any more (due to covid) and haven't even finished the MosaiCraft portrait I bought for myself to do over Lockdown1.  Again, this is because I'm not sat waiting much anymore.  On a Tuesday, when I am waiting for an hour and a half, it is dark at the moment, and I have the pup with me, so it wouldn't be wise to do anything as fiddly as MosaiCraft.

I would like to start focussing on getting healthy again in the new year.  I am very aware that I need to get on the waiting list to have my mastectomy before I'm 40 (so I have 18months), and to have the reconstruction I really do want, I need to lose weight.  I have discovered that surgeons differ by how much weight I'd have to lose, so to know for sure, I will need to actually meet with one.  My mental state has enjoyed not weighing myself every day recently, but my clothes are aware that my weight is creeping up, as I expected it would (not least because it always does when I'm not weighing myself).  I find myself wondering if I can incidentally lose weight by focussing on a different area of my health?  What if I simply record what I am eating and how much exercise I am doing?  If I can get past the shame of recording every bite, will just knowing that I will be writing it later, help me focus my thoughts on healthy foods and the impacts that it will have on my health?  Maybe, just maybe.  And when it gets warmer, I do want to take my pup jogging (she likes it when I run with her now, but it isn't as fun for me when I'm wrapped in a big coat, scarf and boots, lol).

So, that's my quick update and vague plans for next year.

I pray that you can enjoy this festive period, and that your 2021 is better than this year has been xxx

Monday, 21 December 2020

Review of Evidence from the Department of Education HED0987

HERE is a link to the information that I am reading through.  It is the written submission to the Education Select Committee as part of their Home Education Inquiry from the Department of Education. I have coloured the background of their words in pale blue, and will keep them in quotation marks.

Again, there is no initial summary, so I'm assuming it is under 3000 words.

The introduction and the first part of the evidence all seems ok.

P5 "The legal context for home education is set out in the Education Act 1996, section 7 of which sets out that the parent of every child of compulsory school age must cause the child to receive efficient HED0987 full-time suitable education, suitable (a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and (b) to any special education either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. The freedom to discharge this duty ‘otherwise’ than by sending a child regularly to school, in other words through home education, is a fundamental component of the right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children and the Government is committed to preserving it."

P9 "During 2017 and 2018 there was growing concern about indications of a significant growth in home education, and a Private Member’s Bill was introduced by Lord Soley which provided for a home education registration and monitoring scheme. Against this background, the Department undertook a public consultation in April 2018 on home education policy."

P12 "Over 5,000 responses were received to the consultation and the Government response setting out next steps will be published in due course." including mine HERE.

There's lots of information about how the DfE has strengthened guidance regarding how schools should act.  

Then, in P23 "To support parents and children who may be considering, or have already withdrawn their child from school for, elective home education, we remain committed to a registration system for children not in school." What registration scheme? What will it achieve? Why have Home Educators not known about this upcoming change?  In case you've missed it before, HERE's my views on registration.  "More work is required on the practical aspects of delivery and the Government will also be engaging further with the home educating sector. Further details on this will be set out in the Government response to the CNIS consultation." I should bloody well hope that they will be engaging further with the home educating sector, and I hope we can come together to fight this registration scheme.

And the rest is about schools again.

All-in-all, this document sounds like it understands EHE, until it throws in the comment that they are bringing in a registration scheme and are committed to it.  Clearly further work needs to be done by home educators and HE organisations, to see if we can point out the flaws with registration, the additional costs it will incur, and how ultimately, it won't actually achieve anything it sets out to do.

Review of Evidence from Children's Commissioner Office HED0970

HERE is a link to the information that I am reading through.  It is the written submission to the Education Select Committee as part of their Home Education Inquiry from the Children's Commissioner Office. I have coloured the background of their words in pale blue, and will keep them in quotation marks.

There is no initial summary here, so I presume the submitted evidence is under 3000 words.


The Commissioner has long had concerns that some home educated children may receive insufficient support and that there is little formal oversight of their educational progress or wellbeing."
And this report continues how it means to go on...  This first paragraph links to several reports (including Invisible Children which I reviewed the TV report of the same name HERE) but would take too long for me to go through each of these in detail now.

"The Commissioner welcomed the Government’s commitment to introduce a compulsory register of children in home education and looks forward to it being introduced at the earliest opportunity."
Has the government made such a commitment? When? How has this information been passed to home educators?

"It is thought that much of this increase is accounted for by families for whom home education is a last resort" - as I stated repeatedly in my read-through of Unicef's evidence, just because something is a last resort does not mean it is an uninformed choice.  Improve schools, definitely, that will improve things for many many children, but don't try to prevent people from home educating, just because you don't want to admit schools are failing.

"Often families make the decision without knowing what home education entails and receive little support to make a success of it, putting parents under immense strain and children missing out on education." I would like to see some stats here please.  Where is the evidence?

"In other cases, we have heard of families who have chosen to remove their children from school in order to go under the radar." Within the current guidance and law, this should already be impossible.  Any child who is removed from a school roll, the school should promptly inform the LA.  Children who are being home educated are not invisible nor hidden.

What the data shows us

Numbers of children being home educated has increased.  Good.  Parents are exercising their duty to educate their children otherwise than at school.  That alone should not be considered a bad thing.  If schools are failing, sort the schools out.  But it could just be because numbers are increasing, information is more available, and the number of people who have been home educated and are now adults are talking about their experiences, showing that HErs are not weird, but are well educated and fit right into society.

"The fact that many children come off the school roll into home education from a small group of schools suggests that the school itself is a key factor in that process. It might be that the parents are dissatisfied with the school and share their knowledge about home education as an alternative option. Or it could be that these schools are somehow encouraging, or perhaps even pressuring parents into making the decision to home educate. Our data does not allow us to tease apart these two explanations."
And in both of these scenarios, it is the school that needs to be further investigated, and not those who choose home education.

"On average, the rate of children being taken out of school into home education in schools rated ‘Inadequate’ in their most recent inspection13 was twice that of schools rated ‘Good’, and over three times the rate of schools rated ‘Outstanding’."
So in schools that are deemed inadequate, parents are doing their legal responsibility and ensure their children get a good education by removing them from the inadequate school? I don't know whether to simply reply 'good' or 'no shit, Sherlock!'.

What needs to happen now

"But children should only be in home education if it is for the right reasons. And it is clear that some children end up in home education because school isn’t working for them. In some cases they have been denied the educational and pastoral support they need to thrive at school, leading to delayed educational progress at home, poor mental health and wellbeing and increased familial stress."
As opposed to all those children who are in school who are not making educational progress there, have poor mental health and wellbeing and increased familial and academic stress?

"Home education is an enormous undertaking for any family, especially those who may have struggled with school themselves."
Evidence Please.

"Parents often do not receive the support they need to make an informed choice before making the decision to home educate. Where proper advice and information is available, it is clear to see that most parents choose to keep their children in school."
Evidence Please.

"Furthermore, it is unacceptable that there is currently so little oversight of children being educated at home. Without this, there can be no guarantee that all home educated children are safe and getting the education they need and deserve."
Why? Education and welfare should never be conflated.

"A statutory register of children not in school must be introduced without delay. The Government announced plans to create a register following the publication of the Commissioner’s previous report on home education and consulted on its proposals last year. However no Government response has yet been published."
Search this blog if you want to see my thoughts why a register is not a good idea.

"Termly visits" No, just no.
"In October 2019 a Serious Case Review found that there is very little local authorities can do when they suspect problems with a home educated child’s welfare or education" This isn't actually true.  If LAs suspect problems with a child's education, they can serve a Notice to Satisfy s437, and if they are still not satisfied, they can give a School Attendance Order.  As for welfare, again, there are things that can be done.  If you look at the SCR referenced, it says that the child was not taken to medical appointments nor to CAHMS, and because of the missed appointment, rather than being chased up, the child was simply removed from these lists.  It is these protocols that are of concern to a child's welfare.

The recommendations 3-5 under Improved Support for Home Educators, aren't actually too bad.  I think they should be optional, as 'support' of this kind often has strings attached, but better compared to the rest of this report.

The final section of this report is all about how schools can improve, so should not be listed under a review into EHE, imo.
Paragraph 9 does say "The process for taking a child off the school roll to be home-educated should be aligned with the process for a permanent exclusion, so that it involves the same level of oversight, and safeguards – including a governors’ panel and independent review panel." and as long as this governor's panel and independent review is internal and investigative for the school, it's not an issue, however we need to be careful that this doesn't become a stepping stone to the parents/child needing approval before EHE is granted.