Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Truants and Pancakes

Today was the day of the training session.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may know that I was invited to be part of a training session for police officers and education welfare officers, on the subject of HE in connection with truancy sweeps in Bexley.

This came about following the appalling experience of one of the mums in our group (or more precisely one of her sons), who was stopped and dealt with in an extremely inappropriate manner, by an untrained PC and EWO last November.

We had not been briefed on what exactly our role in this training was to be (left hand/right hand scenario..) Apparently we should have had an agenda!

Roarke accompanied me, as I had lost most of my voice over the weekend. Also, as he is a trained trainer and presenter, I thought he'd do a better job than me!

We were in fact only down to speak for 15 minutes about Elective Home Education, then for a sergeant to speak about the police powers re truancy sweeps, then for the head of Education Welfare to talk about the EWO side of things.

There were some 8 or so coppers there (all school liaison officers) and 10 EWOs and staff.

We slightly went over our 15 minutes... being stopped after just over an hour! Everyone kept asking questions!

We outlined what HE is, who does it, why, and what are our "attitudes", during which point Roarke got in some lovely oblique digs at the EWOs.

There were a few tough diplomatic moments, but in the end everyone felt they had learnt something. The Sergeant - who is in charge of the Safer Neighbourhoods Team and all the school liaison officers, has asked for a power point presentation on the subject of HE that he can use to brief all coppers who go out on a sweep.

The EWOs each took our details, including the lady that does any "home visits" and we hope to have some follow up meetings.

It was agreed that we should be notified of any future sweeps - now that there are no more national sweeps at the behest of DfES - so that we can try to diseminate that to the local community. We also hope to be involved in the drawing up of new local protocols for future sweeps.

To that end, if you live in Bexley, I can tell you that the next sweep will be on 7th March.

The sergeant said that in future all local sweeps would be carried out by a schools liaison officer, or a safer neighbourhood officer, and that with the LA they hoped to target the known areas where truants would be (rather than the old shopping centre/walking the streets hopefully that national sweeps entailed). This was so that the officers who could be expected to KNOW the local children would be involved, thus minimising the chances of HE kids being approached.

All in all, it felt like a productive and informative use of two hours.

Whilst we were out at that, the boys stayed with our friend Grace, and the five boys there together had a good morning. At lunchtime, Roarke collected them all and, in a return favour to Grace, took them on to our regular meeting at the indoor play area.

One of our new families came along to that, he said, which was great. The group has just welcomed its 70th family! I'm so pleased to see how the group is getting on, with more relationships forming, and with more trips being organised etc.

Whilst they were out this afternoon, I came back here. Yes, I know I should have rested, but I spent all the time working on Roarke's new business website instead!

Thankfully, having got up at 6.30am this morning to get everything ready, the slow cooker saved the day again and we had our barbecued pork for dinner.

Of course, now Samuel has a diary (in his eddie stobart organiser..) he knew it was Shrove Tuesday so I had to make gluten free pancakes for us all.

Fortunately, pancakes is one of those recipes that requires no adjusting in order to make it gf - just a straight subsitution. My recipe is:

Measure out 4 oz Dove's gluten free plain flour, add a pinch of salt, and sift into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and put in one beaten egg. Gradually mix it in, adding milk slowly from 1/2 pint. When you've added about half the milk, beat the batter for as long as you can (at least 2 and as long as 5 minutes if you can manage!). Then add the rest of the milk and mix in. Leave to stand. I find about 20 minutes is enough.

That makes enough batter for each boy to have 3 pancakes (9 in total therefore), with plenty of jam and sugar!

Tomorrow, I hope to have a slower day (!) and help the lads focus on some things. They saw the piece about the abolition of slavery on Newsround today so that is something we are going to look at.


Lin said...

oops, guess who forgot to make pancakes!

In my defence we have had them rather a lot lately so maybe my kids were sick of them! (she hopes as she scuttles off to check the lemon situation for tomorrow!)

Elle at Ellesfuntimes said...

Glad it was all beneficial today at the training session, and went well. Well done! Elle

Lisa said...

Of all the years that HE has been going on you would think that the police force or at least ed welfare would be aware that these kid exist and what their rights are. Or is it just a case of every child has to be treated the same.

Dawniy said...

oMG Ann you are SUCH a star , and so too is your hubby - it sounds wonderful , i wish somebody would do the same here - or maybe somebody has . . . .
Anyway you star ! it sounds as if you won lots over to a more empathic view of us all.
the pacakes sound lovely too - I wonder if going gluten free would help our naomi? her dairy allergy seems to be gone but we still have problems. Where do you get oyur flour from ?
well done babes (ps not been around cos of sorting out hands files )