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Canopus

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Everything posted by Canopus

  1. Do LEAs liaise with or hold information about private sector schools, educational help centres, and colleges that admit under 16s? I have a strong feeling that they don't and their territory are state schools only. Therefore, if someone with SEN would benefit from such an organisation then they will not be informed of its existance by the LEA. Could anybody provide more info on this? An interesting sideline is that the NHS doesn't hold information about private medical facilities that offer services the NHS doesn't offer. I had bad astigmatism in one eye following an injury and wanted to find out more about laser treatment and whether it would be suitable. My optician knew nothing about laser eye surgery so referred my to my GP. My GP knew nothing either so referred me to a specialist in a hospital. The specialist was very unkind towards me and thought I was a hypocondriac. He told me that laser eye surgery was not available on the NHS and that the NHS didn't even know what organisations carried it out and I should stop wasting doctor's time. Eventually I had to find out about laser eye surgery on the internet and contact organisations that carried it out for more info. The treatment was found to be suitable and was carried out a few years ago with excellent results.
  2. My science teacher claimed the coal miner's unions delayed the development of alternative energy in Britain. France and Iceland have no fossil fuel reserves which resulted in their nuclear and geothermal energy programmes. Short term political gain is often detrimental to long term solutions of the world's problems. In this case it is developing alternative energy solutions for road vehicles whilst accepting losing much of the revenue from fuel duty.
  3. This is the beginning of the end. The fact is, oil reserves are running out fast yet demand for oil increases day by day. Last time round it was OPEC who jacked up the price of crude. This time it isn't. Demand is outstripping supply. The price of petrol and the amount of tax on a litre is disgusting. If the tax on petrol was used to fund research into alternative fuels then I wouldn't mind paying 95p a litre. However, the government isn't funding ANY research into alternative fuels and the petrol tax is used as a general source of revenue to pay for public services or government pet projects such as the war in Iraq. I see this as an outrage. Why isn't the government funding any research into alternative fuels? Simply because of downright greed and selfishness. They want to see Britain as a nation fueled by petroleum because otherwise they will lose a lucrative source of revenue and have to raise other taxes. Another reason is that Labour has never cared for the environment. They are a party built with support from dirty old coal miners and smoke belching heavy industry. If Labour really showed its committement to the environment then they would abolish duty on chip oil used as fuel but they stubbornly won't. The cost of petrol and diesel is going to rise and in 5 years time could be as much as �1.50 a litre. Shifting people out of cars into public transport is not a solution under the present system because buses and many trains burn diesel, so if the price of crude rises then the price of bus and train tickets also rise. When oil runs out public transport will stop apart from electric trains and trams. The development of alternative sources of energy is long overdue and I urge that you do not vote for a political party at subsequent elections unless they are 100% committed to developing alternative energy solutions.
  4. Do statemented children have the right to see their statement and amend it as appropriate? I NEVER got to see my statement and my parents refused to show it me.
  5. I think that most of my problems were identified but no explanations were given for the reason for the problems. For example, why did the LEA and educational psychologist fail to realise that my aversion to writing and my reluctance to produce written work was because much of the work I was given was so stupidly trivial and easy that I saw no point in writing it down as I wasn't learning anything. There was no mention of AS, dyspraxia or dyslexia anywhere in the statement. The statement also contained a report from a doctor about my clumsiness and he stated there was nothing abnormal. I am horrified with the action plan. It proposes to reform me socially whilst academic issues will be given second priority. I think the plan was to have me leave school at 16 as an NT teenager with no regard given to what GCSEs I have or what grades. A mainstream curriculum is mentioned which I interpret as being exactly what is offered at an average state school. There was no mention of providing extra help and resources for subjects that I struggled with such as history or literature because they were wordy essay types, nor was there any recommendation of an accelerated learning environment for subjects I was advanced in such as maths, science and computers. It appears as if the solution to my problems was to force me to mix with other people of my own age group and involve myself in group activities rather than solitary activities. The action plan also stated they wanted to improve my handwriting although nobody ever spared a thought that when I leave school almost all work will be done on a computer. My handwriting in 1989 was not beautiful but it was legible and up to a suitable standard for use in exams. As Lucas said " It doesn't sound like your educational needs have actually been recognised" and I 100% agree with him.
  6. I was statemented at 8 and I never got to see any of my statements until two years ago when I found a statement from 1989 thrown in the paper recycling bin at home. I was absolutely fuming after reading it. It was full of factual errors and went into detail over issues I would rather the school and LEA not known about. The main sections of the statement are summarised below. Special educational needs:- Social and emotional skills: I am egocentric and therefore intolerant of others. I need to learn how to relate to peers and adults alike without excessive acting out behaviour. Academic skills: I am an able youngster who demonstrates a significant difference between my verbal skills and my daily written assignments. Motor skills: I am poorly co-ordinated and appear to have genuine difficulties with my recording skills which are exacerbated by poor attitude towards having to do so. I also have real difficulties with PE skills. Leisure skills: As a result of my poor relationship with my peers, I have opted for activities such as computers and reading which reinforce my sense of isolation. Special educational provision:- 1. An intense social skills programme which will develop mastery of these. 2. A mainstream curriculum within a challenging setting with peers of potentially similar ilk. 3. Activities which promote my feeling of self worth. 4. A wide range of leisure activities which encourages group involvement and reliance on others. 5. Small group teaching with a high level of adult interaction to ensure attention to task. 6. A residential seeting which allows social training beyond school hours. 7. A special needs resource to promote handwriting skills. 8. Sensitive and supportive staff who can build trust and thereby change my behaviour. Assessment by comprehensive school:- 1. Skills Orally good, what I say is logical and of high knowledge. Occasionally my understanding appears juvenile or naive. I have an aversion to writing, otherwise my English is technically sound. When I write my writing is usually of a high grammatical standard. I am well above average in maths. In drama and PE my co-ordination is below average. 2. Competance in the classroom I will sit and listen but am reluctant to do any written work. I work well when isolated. Staff say I am lazy and slack. 3. Approach to learning I rarely ever do any homework, but the few pieces submitted are usually of a high standard. 4. Social skills and behaviour I do not get on well with my peers. I can be disruptive in certain lessons. I often get up to mischief and fiddle about with machinery and building fittings. I am obsessed with computers. Conclusions and recommendations:- I have poor social skills which are further compounded by general clumsiness. This has resulted in dissonance as I have a cognitive awareness of the problems but unable to effect any change with regards to negotiate with or to approach my peers appropriately. I have a very good academic potential which is not being realised as this is relegated to secondary importance because of his overriding social and emotional needs. If I am to fulfil my potential I need specialised help both academically and socially. In order to do so I require a provision which offers:- 1. A curriculum with an effective social skills programme which will offer the opportunity to role-play skills in order for me to achieve mastery of these in the long term. 2. A mainstream curriculum within an environment which will be challenging as I become dismissive of things I feel are inconsequential. 3. Plenty of activities that I value such as computing in order to promote my strengths in a group setting which will counterbalance my deficit areas with regard to social skills. 4. A wider range of leisure activities as I tend to opt for solitary activities rather than group activities. 5. A small group teaching situation. 6. A residential setting so that my difficulties can be worked upon in a variety of settings beyond school hours in order to promote generalisation of my skills. 8. A special needs resource that will investigate the longstanding difficulty with recording skills that may be connected to poor motor skills. 9. Staff who are sensitive and supportive so I will establish feelings of trust to enable them to work constructively with me. A residential school that caters for children with emotional and behavioural problems is recommended. Can anybody comment on this statement? Does it appear that I have AS? Do you think the solutions are appropriate or not?
  7. I can't prove this, but I suspect that the real reason for sending me to residential school was to improve me socially rather than provide me with an education that met my needs that state schools couldn't provide. In 1989 my statement clearly stated that I was withdrawn, preferred to spend time at home by myself rather than socialise with people of my age group, was obsessed with computers and spent a large amount of my free time in front of a computer, and was reluctant to write with a pen. Sending me to a residential school would have forced me to mix with other kids, stopped me using a computer, and would make me write with a pen.
  8. The homework system at my school was anything but flexible. A certain piece of homework had to be done on a certain day without fail. All homework had to be done in supervised sessions in complete silence. Kids were not allowed to discuss homework with each other or help each other. If you didn't complete your homework or had done it at breaktime then you would be punished.
  9. I have always believed that the real reason for introducing compulsory education was to instil discipline, obediance, and compliance with rules no matter how poxy or stupid they may seem. The teachers saw me as lazy and undisciplined when I didn't do my homework and instead focused on something more interesting that would be of use after I finished school, such as computer programming or physics that were 5 years ahead of what I was learning in class. One reason for sending me to residential school was to make me do my homework.
  10. If you were asked about AS at a job interview then how is it best to reply?
  11. I'm sure that most kids with AS take no interest in getting 13 A* at GCSE. They just want high grades in the few subjects they are interested in. I hope that future employers don't scrutinise my GCSEs because I don't have a foreign language, art, or technology subject. When I was at school, higher education was what mattered and the director of studies stated there isn't a real advantage in having loads of GCSEs, and that high grades in 5 subjects were better than poor grades in 10 subjects. I have read in more recent times that employers are increasingly interested in the range of GCSEs because they want more all-round people rather than single minded specialists. This could be a disadvantage to me and others who only have a few GCSEs or are missing a few subjects.
  12. I only ever enjoyed homework when I got to Y10. Before then much of the stuff just wasn't worth wasting my time doing. I either learnt nothing or it was a pointless exercise. My school was dismayed why I hadn't done any graphical communication homework for nearly a term in Y9. I replied that I was dropping the subject at the end of the year so it would be better to allocate my time to subjects I will be taking, or my maths GCSE due in a few months time. This cut no ice with the headmaster who stated that I should allocate equal time and effort to all subjects and get good grades in the internal exams for subjects which I was going to drop at the end of Y9.
  13. Between 1985 and 1990 I visited a doctor or a psychologist at least once a term and they had no answer and no explanation for my problems. Neither did any of the reps or educational pyschologists from the LEA. My father spent a lot of time during 1988 scouring hospital and university libraries for any books which described my problems. He had no success whatsoever on finding anything that closely matched AS. There were books on autism but he ruled it out as autism tended to include things like involuntarily throwing stuff at ceilings, being unable to communicate, and having little sense in who they are or what they are really doing. There just didn't seem to be any books which mentioned obsessive interests, poor written work yet high intelligence, bad at socialising, and general clumsiness. Mild schizophrenia appeared to be the closest match, but he was unconvinced I was schizophrenic and hoped I would never be diagnosed as schizophrenic because it could have severe consequences. Therefore, he concluded that the doctors and psychologists were right and that there was nothing psychologically wrong with me. It was all down to bad behaviour. I asked him if he could write a paper for a psychology or medical journal describing me in the hope that someone else knows of somebody with similar conditions. He refused on the grounds that it could bring shame on the family and he could be accused of bad parenting.
  14. Was it reported in any medical or psychology journals or were the findings contained in some obscure conference report that is almost impossible to get hold of?
  15. Wireless networks are short range devices, so unless the hotel is small then they will probably only be accessible in certain areas such as conference rooms. Some hotels have ethernet sockets in the rooms.
  16. It is usual to take 4 AS levels and continue with 3 of them to A2. That way one ends up with 3 A levels and 1 AS level. Back in my days one took 3 A levels and we didn't have the AS A2 system, so all exams were taken at the end of the second year. I know what surds are and can (probably) help.
  17. It didn't achieve mainstream recognition until the second half of the 1990s. When I started university 10 years ago I had a medical form that didn't mention AS. It just had a box for mental health difficulties.
  18. It baffles me why buses, trains, ambulances, and police cars still burn mineral oil when they can run perfectly well on chip oil.
  19. What do you want to know about surds?
  20. I work as a university researcher but have applied to take up a position in industry. I submitted my CV over a week ago but have had no reply from the company yet. Universities, like much of the public sector are bureaucratic rule bound places. Many of the rules are also unwritten and often one doesn't find out about them until they break them! Salaries are not all that good in academia any more and often pay less than in industry. Universities have also become more commercially oriented and are now run along similar lines to businesses. They have to fight amongst each other for government funding and are increasingly forced to earn money from commercial contracts. Academic careers are no longer secure employment. Research groups sometimes disintegrate or close due to loss of staff, lack of success, or funding cuts and if ones skills cannot be put to good use then researchers will lose their jobs. In some instances, entire departments close down. My findings are that hardly any university academics and lecturers have heard of AS and probably couldn't care less about the issue. I know this sounds pessimistic but it is the truth. At least within engineering departments. One must not fall into the trap of thinking that university is an easy ride for all or a haven for those with AS.
  21. I remember that one. However, the government ended up focusing on education to the detriment of training. Apprenticeships were abolished and many vocational courses at schools such as car mechanics were axed because they didn't fit into the National Curriculum. ICT as a compulsory subject wasn't introduced until the second half of the 1990s and largely replaced the optional computing GCSE that was more technical and not so tied to M$ software. This is ridiculous. It wouldn't surprise me if schools are the only organisations that use FrontPage. A few years ago there was some fuss over why schools use M$ Access when it is technically obsolete and non-standard for professional databases. Nice to see that someone agrees with me that Linux could be a better choice. They must have courage to make such a move. It goes completely against the flow of the tide. I wonder what the LEA thinks of it? At long last somebody in a position of power has finally noticed the savings made by the elimination of licensing costs when using open source software. You hit the nail on the head there. For years I have been saying that computers are just a tool in a similar way that a protractor or hacksaw are tools. The way computers are used in schools is like teaching hammer rather than carpentry or test tube rather than chemistry. Computers really should be incorporated into existing lessons as learning tools and a means to an end, rather than an end in itself in ICT lessons.
  22. I am fully aware that computers are endless fun for kids and endless misery for teachers. Many long serving teachers pine for the days when the most complicated thing they had to handle was a stick of chalk! There are some critics in both education and industry who argue that computers are of minimal use in a school environment as schools are for providing education and not training. The money that is currently spent on computers would be better spent on building repairs, staff salaries, and textbooks; the time that teachers spend maintaining computers and attending computer courses could be better spent teaching kids. They want to see ICT scrapped from the school curriculum and the time used for real subjects such as grammar or history. I view the changeover from Acorn machines to PCs running Windows was nothing more than buying a packet of trouble. It was done because it was argued that kids should use computers and software that the real world uses rather than machines only used by schools. It subjected schools to the capricious hand of the free market and the mercy of Bill Gates and Andy Grove whose only purpose is to make money, not educate kids. PCs and Windows become obsolete almost overnight, so as well as the cost of constantly having to replace hardware and software that still works perfectly, the retraining of teaching staff is an endless treadmill. I advocated several years ago that a special version of Linux should be developed for schools. Linux is a stable operating system and doesn't go obsolete in the same way as Windows does. My suggestion was met with horror because Linux is perceived to be very complicated and technical compared to Windows and isn't what most offices use. The government insists that schools use Windows and M$ application software and has designed the ICT curriculum around this so any change will have to come from top rather than at school or LEA level. What the government and the pro M$ in education camp doesn't seem to latch onto is that by the time kids finish school, the software they use will be obsolete and no longer in widespread use in industry. When I was at secondary school DOS was what PCs ran and computer literate at the time meant having an in depth knowledge of DOS commands. DOS has now been consigned to the dustbin of history and in 10 years time so will Windows XP. Therefore, the idea that kids must use the same software at school as what the office down the road uses just doesn't hold much water in practice, especially if the purpose of school is defined as providing education and not training. I am in favour of having computers in schools but see the current implementation as flawed beyond belief. It doesn't surprise me in the slightest that there are critics who want to see computers purged from schools and a return to traditional teaching methods. Computers and software should be designed for the task that they will be used for, so if a simple text editor is all that is required as a pen substitute for a kid with poor handwriting then that is what they should be provided with. Not some overcomplicated machine running overcomplicated software designed to comply with Whitehall's ICT policy. At the rate things are going I can't see a light at the end of the tunnel. SEN kids will continue to suffer from lack of equipment or inappropriate equipment and teachers stress levels rise. I suppose the best course of action for the time being for kids with writing difficulties is for their parents to buy them an alpha-smart or laptop and persuade the school to let them use it in class. If the school refuses then they could always threaten to withdraw them on the grounds that the school is failing to provide for their needs because of arrogance rather than cost.
  23. Switching computers on and off wears them out which is one reason why computers are left to run continuously in many institutions and CO2 emissions are so high. Schools should switch on all their computers before the students arrive and switch them off after the students go home. That way, time isn't wasted at the start of lessons. Only basic word processing software is needed as a pen substitute in most lessons. Packages like M$ Word are too complicated and have too many features that can act as distractions. A straightforward text editor should be sufficient. Kids who require computers as pen substitutes should have the opportunity to practice using the software either at breaktimes or after school.
  24. The real issue here is priority. If a school is short on computers, then they should be first allocated to those who need them the most. My junior school had 400 kids and only 8 or 9 computers. The computers spent most of their time gathering dust because there was very little software relevant to the school curriculum and there were no ICT lessons back then. The school had a word processor and printers so there really was no excuse not to let me use it instead of writing. I think that part of the problem is a result of the attitudes of those in education. Many teachers are left-wing in their views and believe more in equality rather than priority. Letting a few kids use computers to do most of their work is interpreted as unfair on the majority who have to use pens. Therefore the teacher takes the stance of "if everyone can't have it then nobody shall have it".
  25. I can't see why it took so ###### long for schools to let students use computers if their writing is bad. Harder to understand is why schools got difficult if homework was printed out rather than written.
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