Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Perthshire Nazgul.

I have been thinking a lot about the Victorian methods adopted by certain areas in Perthshire. Some are positively Medieval, mirroring the quirky, old vennels of Perth which lead to the Tay. You are never far from the Tay or a council 'owned' property.
It is a very municipal town, Perth, but not in a good way.

We are preparing our son and ourselves for school. Home education went fairly well but there is so much work to do on the farm this year that we would need 48 hours in a day to manage everything plus  being remote, our son needs company and friends.

Once a child is registered for school, they are in 'the system' and if for any reason things do not work out well with that school then it becomes difficult to revert to home education without the council intervening.
I fully understand the reasons given for intervention; they do not wish a child to be used as labour, as a baby sitter for younger siblings or if there is cause that a child is being harmed or worse.
There is no leeway for parents simply wishing to home educate their children - ideas of abuse or harm would never cross their minds. Perhaps mainstream school is not working for the child.

Perthshire council became very medieval when I home educated Rosie whilst waiting to go to court over her Secondary education.
Rosie responded very well to home ed and excelled in life skills. She is a superb cook, has an aptitude for gardening and the uses of herbs; culinary and medicinal, she had a couthy way with animals and knew how to deliver a lamb or how to feed an orphaned calf. She knew trees and plants, which poisonous ones to avoid plus enjoyed art exhibitions and ballet, when a troupe came to town.

Lots of these skills are not taught in schools.

One evening, the council education Nazgul descended on the area. This evil dragon swooped and descended at the wrong house (my eldest son's house) and was rude to him at the door. He refused to let her in on the strength that a) she had been rude and b) he had no idea who she was and c) it was 7.30pm and she could have been *anyone*.

P&K council tend to have marvellously puffed up ideas of themselves and woe betide if I had not been there to answer to the Nazgul (despite her going to the wrong house).

The week in court arrived. Hideous place court. There was a murder trial going on at the same time as my appeal to get Rosie into a special school and I should have been helping with the harvest that week.
Junkies hid syringes in the toilet paper roll and stole the soap for washing your hands. Naively, I thought the blue light in the toilets was for killing flies. My eldest son told me is was to make your veins disappear in case you were going to inject something into them.

All week, the invisible council shuffled in. All those who I had tried to speak with in the months before the trial but who had been 'busy' or 'on holiday' or 'in a meeting'. Here they all were, each more like a character from a Breughel painting, shuffling in, spouting municipal guff, shuffling out to get their expenses.

Their very expensive lawyer asked me why I had not met the Nazgul the night she swooped.

I tried to tell them that I was with my Dad but the words stuck in my throat. I wanted to say that I lived miles from the house she visited and that she was an evil dragon who had no good way with children. I wanted to ask why I was being treated like a criminal and why a Kafkaesque trial for the right to educate a child at the school which was best *for her*?
The council lawyer accused me of choosing this school "As a lifestyle choice".

That makes me spit bullets to this day as it was such a glib and stupid statement. Who was I going to boast to, the sheep? It was not going to be to the cattle as we sold them to pay for a trial term. We worked our socks off and had no social life whatsoever in order to help our daughter and keep our farm going.

I had not met the Nazgul that night because I was in the hospital with Dad and he died that evening.

We won the appeal.
 Rosie won the right to go to the special school and she is a different person as a result. She is confident, able, happy and has friends now, thanks to her school, the pupils, teachers and care staff.
 It was worthwhile standing in the fetid air of the Nazgul, Breughel weirdos, Kafkaesque trial, murderers and junkies so my daughter could have a chance in life. Sometimes you do things for your children because you love them and know what they need...and not because you fancy a lifestyle change.

Perth and Kinross.

Your mental health emergency system stinks. Your education services team were hideous and so narrow minded, they could all look through a keyhole with both eyes.
You award yourselves meringue titles like "Convener of Scrutiny" whilst the infrastructure crumbles in the county, roads become lethal, rivers flood and the rural 'services' cease to exist.
You are blinded by the foolish 'aristocracy' and are corrupt to the core. Allegedly. said through gritted teeth.
There now, it is out and said.

And the Nazgul never came to much, did they?


  1. Anything to do with Family Courts seems to be a dark hell-hole of corruption, secrecy and abuse. There have been some terrible stories.

    Your story is pretty grim too. Thankfully it had a happy ending and Rosie got what she needed. Fingers crossed for your son.

    1. Sarah, our case did not involve a Family Court although I have heard some grim stories about them. Rosie's appeal was our attempt in challenging the local authority and in particular, their promise that she would be kept safe at the school of their choice.
      I have since met with other parents who had to go through the same ordeal and every one of them was left quite traumatised after the experience.
      Local authorities always argue that they offer the best service but in reality, it all boils down to funding and they forget it is public money.

      I wonder how much 'educational fact finding' trips abroad for local authority staff cost the taxpayer.

  2. I'm so glad you won.
    I've always been puzzled at how people who go into public service...particularly in jobs where they deal with children's education and welfare...so often become tyrants.

  3. the fly in the web, - how true, re the tyrants. I think The Nazgul retired but perhaps someone from Middle Earth lopped her head off first.

    The pleasant ones in the Children and Education dept were few and far between and I often wondered what sort of job satisfaction the less pleasant ones got from their work....It is another area which is very outdated and needs reforming or at the very least, retraining for the bullies and tyrants.