The strait-jacket of the State just got tighter: UK Supreme Court Ruling against Jon Platt & school absence

Jon Platt speaking outside UK Supreme Court today (taken from his FB page Jon Platt – School Fines Refunds

Reading the news today that the valiant Isle of Wight father, Jon Platt, lost his case in the UK Supreme Court comes as a sickening, if hardly surprising, blow to ordinary, law-abiding parents.

Mr Platt bravely fought the state on its insistence on fining him for removing his daughter for one week so they could go to Disney, because his daughter had been ‘regularly attending’ school having a 92% attendance rate. According to High Court rulings between 1969-2006, he said, this could be defined as ‘regular’. But no longer.

None of this is a surprise to those of us who’ve had children in State school for more than 5 years. In that time, we’ve felt the tightening of the strings on the strait-jacket that school has become. Firstly, the imposition of fines for parents who take their children out without permission in 2013, the connection of attendance rates with Ofsted ratings and the de facto removal of the Head’s authority to grant up to 10 days absence per child. Continue reading

Child Mental Health: time for action is overdue

You may have picked up in the press that this week is Child Mental Health week.  It’s a subject close to my heart.  This isn’t because my children are suffering from serious mental ill health.  I admit that my daughter has been struggling with anxiety since starting secondary school but she isn’t mentally ill or in need of medical assistance –  yet.

No, it’s because I see the increasing pressure placed on children these days – in school and society – to be older than their years as a direct threat to their mental health.  Long term stress has been shown to be damaging to adults’ mental and physical health. The harm to children is expected to be even greater because childhood is meant to be a time for learning through play, fun, exploration and gradual learning of responsibility (see Save Childhood Movement‘s site for statistics and research). Continue reading

Christmas Ads: the modern seasonal sermon

Still from Sainsbury's ad 'The Greatest Gift'

Sainsbury’s ‘The Greatest Gift’

As some of you know, I have the privilege of writing for the wonderful London Institute of Contemporary Christianity (LICC), specifically for their Connecting with Culture page.  The brief is to write a short reflection on a contemporary British cultural issue with a faith lens – all in 400 words!  My piece last Friday was on this year’s Christmas ads which I thought some of you might be interested to read. Click here if you are!

http://www.licc.org.uk/TW/image-bg/images/liccred.jpg

Trump victory: how to keep our heads when all around are losing theirs

kiplingquoteAnd so this morning, the world has woken up to what the vast majority of the British (and I dare say world) public feel is a tragic, shocking, deeply disturbing result: Donald Trump becoming President of the United States of America.

It’s like Brexit all over again, but on a global scale.  Even the weather has chimed in – it poured with rain last night just as it did the night of the Brexit vote in a season of unusually dry weather. Continue reading

How to talk to your kids about #Brexit upset

Since last Friday when the results of the EU Referendum on Brexit were announced, the TV, radio, internet and adults seem to be talking about nothing else but Brexit. No matter which way your household voted it is highly likely that your children will be used to furrowed brows, heated discussions, maybe anger or elation, and possibly a fair bit of strong language.

“What’s going on??!!” wrote one friend of my 12 year old daughter’s on her iMessage thread last Friday morning. “Everyone’s going crazy :-(”

Upset & Relief signs Indeed. Many children, both young and teens, are confused, anxious and worried about what this all means. The older ones are angry that they never got to vote yet are all too aware that the older generation voted a different way from how they would have done. The younger ones are genuinely confused:

Mummy,” said my friend’s 8 year old son. “If we do get separated from Europe, will we feel it? Will it feel like an earthquake or something?”

So what do we do or say to allay their fears? Continue reading