It seems a long time ago since I started this blog. My concerns at that stage seem so distant. Life has indeed moved on. It is over a year now since Tim (aka GP2) left school and Standard Grades, Highers, SQA, Curriculum for Excellence, Leaps, are now of no more than passing academic interest. Time for a round up.
So, Chris/GP1/Ginger left that fine academic institution that is Ross High School three years ago with a respectable assortment of Highers, Advanced Highers and various other SQA offerings. I can’t really say, hand on heart, that he ever quite got studying but hey, he did what he needed. We suggested he took a year out to figure out what he really wanted to do before moving on to more studying but he didn’t want to, so onwards it was. I think perhaps he couldn’t visualise the alternatives to the school-college route – it was a sort of comfort blanket that didn’t require too much thinking. LEAPS summer school (he didn’t really get that, either) was followed by Sport Science at Heriot Watt University.
Oh dear. Oh Heriot Watt – do you have no student support system that flags up when things are not going as they should? It was obvious to us by Christmas that things were not going well. By Easter we were seriously worried. He simply didn’t manage the transition from a very structured, highly timetabled final year at school to the unstructured environment of self study that was his first year at University. The course and department didn’t help; it turned out that his was the last intake into a course that was being discontinued. He had seven timetabled hours a week and, in the entire first year, the only set work he appeared to have consisted of one essay and one group presentation. His tutor went on maternity leave in his first few weeks and wasn’t replaced, at least not by anyone who made contact. Of course, I realise we were getting only one side of the story and it may have been edited highlights, but he really didn’t appear to know where to turn. He quite simply didn’t cope and made the entirely correct decision to leave in the summer term. Better to drop out of university than to drop out of life.
The past two years have been a bit of a mish mash of many things, all good. For most of the first year after the demoralising HW experience he taught swimming and racketball (not together) at locations all over the Lothians. The racketball was a programme run by Scottish Squash with money from the cashback scheme which puts confiscated proceeds from crime back into the community. At one of his dodgier venues he had two policemen to help out each week, just making sure things didn’t get out of control. He also volunteered as a classroom assistant at our local primary for a day or two a week and was accepted onto the East Lothian supply list for classroom assistants. This led on to a job at the primary for a full school year: it was great to see him come home each day with a smile on his face. Afternoons and weekends he spent teaching swimming. And partying – that boy is a party animal. And as well as all that he has now spent two successful summers teaching sport at Summer Camps in the States.
So where now? Two years working in a variety of environments have restored some self confidence and two summers in America have broadened his horizons. He realised himself that he needs some form of further training or qualifications to move on. We looked together at a number of options from being a paramedic to teaching and then I arranged a meeting for him with Jackie Cameron, a life coach I met through this blog. I hoped that someone from outside would help him sort out what he really wanted to do rather better than his parents could. He came back from Jackie having decided that he would give university and Sport Science another go and so here we are again. He is off to Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen in a couple of weeks to do Applied Sport and Exercise Science, a less academic course than Heriot Watt and Stirling, a city based rather than campus university, and further from home than Heriot Watt. He is on a warning that he has to pass his exams! No pressure then. But this time he is 20 going on 21 rather than 17. He was selected by interview and likes the look of the department and course. He can see opportunities for moving on afterwards, for example into physiotherapy or teaching. And we have our fingers firmly crossed that this time he will be happy.
After all, that’s what we all want as parents, isn’t it? We want them to be happy.