Tag Archives: Parent

No… My Son Hasn’t Become Addicted To Gambling Because He Won A Raffle

25 Jan

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If you read the blog regularly then you will already know that little man won an iPad mini just before Christmas with Vivo miles (his school reward system). If you didn’t read my blog post about the win, you can find it Here!

So… Recently, well a few weeks back in fact, I came across an article (well more than one actually) regarding the online raffle that my son won. The article told how a parent had reported Vivo Miles to the Gambling Commission after the parent accused the popular school reward scheme of encouraging gambling when they allowed pupils to take part in a raffle for high-tech gadgets.

Pupils were able to purchase raffle tickets from the points they had been awarded by their teaching staff. These tickets are paid with by points but worked out to the Equivalent of around 5p each in money.

It is said that the parent complained having discovered her son had taken part in the raffle without her permission. She was concerned about this and complained that her child had been allowed to gamble, spending his well earned points on an online lottery!

Now, before I go any further, I wish to make a few things known and noted…

Firstly… Yes… Little man did win an IPad mini on this very raffle, and No… this has no inference on my current thoughts and opinions on the subject. I have read the articles, given it some thought and done some research.

So, the articles are not that positive, the papers and online sites did well to highlight the less then positive factors within this story! As always things could have been better explained and other important factors included… But hay, where’s the juice in that?

Now… I understand the parents concerns, especially if she had no indication of her sons entry into the online raffle, but what everyone is forgetting to ask themselves is why didn’t she know?

As mentioned within the articles, shools pay to join the Vivo Miles reward programme. What it fails to mention is that each school receives a programme tailored to its specific needs and more importantly… budgets. The schools independently select items to be placed on the they’re schools profile. Pupils can then make selections from the school’s rewards and exchange these items for their points. Every item is pre-selected by members of staff within the school, So, this therefore includes the inclusion of the raffle itself.

The staff in charge of managing their online profile are the ones who have a duty to inform parents of the raffle… Not Vivo Miles. Vivo deal directly with the schools, even the rewards are sent directly to the schools as opposed to pupils home addresses.

I wish to add that Little mans school informed us, the parents! About the online raffle as soon as it went live. My daughters school (Mainstream Primary) don’t use Vivo miles but do always ran a school Christmas raffle! Here’s the difference….

My son’s school informed us by letter. They explained ticket prices and how the raffles would be run.

My daughters school also sent out letters stating the school office had raffle tickets for sale. The note states the price and suggestion that we give our children money to buy tickets when at school!

In many ways I struggle to see the differences! Only that little man would act more independently when deciding how many of his points to spend on tickets. I actually think this teaches some independent and decision making skills to the child.

Yes… The prize was nice! But also educational! For a child like little man on the autism spectrum, an iPad mini is a great tool, one that many schools are actually giving to pupils to use at school (costing them large amounts from its budget).

My daughters school also had great prizes on offer, some more expensive than others.

I also checked out some other school raffles by doing a google search and discovered that some schools were offering really elaborate prizes, such as hotel stays, bottles of champagne and games consoles. Again most of these schools wrote that children could come into school with the money to buy tickets. The only difference here is that parents know what they are sending the money in for, but its still an exchange of money and if anything a more realistic form of gambling due to the visual aspects of it! I was fully informed about the Vivo raffle and could have therefore stopped little man joining in anytime, just as I could have chosen for my daughter to opt out by not supplying her with the funds for the ticket (regardless of if its her pocket money).

The biggest issue I see is the schools mistake of not informing this parent of the Vivo Miles raffle (as it seems they didn’t).

I wonder if the parents who did have an issue with the online raffle feel the same when it comes to school tombolas. Kids can spend their pocket money on 3 tombola tickets for a pound. They can do this without a parents consent. Children open the tickets in the hope their raffle ticket ends in a 0 or a 9 to have their pick of prizes from the table. There is no limitation on the number of tickets kids can buy and although the prize is not an ipad its a relevant, its taking a gamble all the same! I my opinion its worse as the temptation is laid out before their very eyes.

For me the term lottery is a strong one!
As far as I’m concerned proceeds from the raffles that were in its 3rd month of trails were donated to charity.

Vivo also encourage children to donate points to their chosen charity & our kids are free to do so if they wish.

Now, I did hear that during the trails there was some sort of mix up. It has been stated that Vivo Miles insisted the raffles were only open to pupils in the 500 secondary schools subscribing to the scheme, but admitted that two primaries had also “inadvertently” been included.

What can I say… This is a careless mistake but one that both Vivo and the schools in question need hold accounting for.

It is rumoured that the parent who made the complaint is a parent to a primary school child aged 7 years. It is also noted that she was surprised when her child had told her he had participated in the raffle. All I want to know is why no one felt the need to monitor this child’s Internet usage. A child at 7 could run into allsorts of trouble, what with inappropriate website and child grooming! I for one would be monitoring my 7 year olds internet usage. Was this mother not regularly checking the sites her child visited and did she not feel the need to view her child’s Vivo profile at all. I have even seen a thread on a forum where it is said that primary aged children were making comments on the Vivo Facebook page, yet Facebook is a social networking site for children age 13+. In one sense these parents are rightfully complaining about their child taking part in an online raffle but in another sense happy for them to have free run of the net and chat on Facebook? Its our job as parents, along with those teaching our children, to protect them and teach safe Internet usage.

There is yet more rumours, one being that Vivo miles didn’t plan on giving all the money to charity. I was told in writing that the money would go to charitable courses when I was informed about the raffle. As of yet I haven’t had any reason to suspect otherwise.

Lastly… As noted, my opinion have no bearing on Little mans win. I spent a long time in a relationship with someone addicted to gambling and it tore apart my life for sometime. If I believed I was allowing my child into that world then I wouldn’t have allowed him to participate.

Since his win, my son has not become some over compulsive gambler. He doesn’t cling to me, dragging from my legs kicking and screaming begging me to buy him a scratch card or anything! His iPad has become a great communication tool, a place he can store a visual schedule that’s totally mobile and personalised to his needs, somewhere to store notes to remember important information, a learning and resource device, and of course a place to play Mindcraft… (Com on his got to let of steam somehow).

I’m confident in stating that little man has become much more independent since using Vivo miles. Having attended schools who’s past reward systems failed (let’s not forget this little boy with aspergers was left with no school as not one mainstream school said they could meet his needs) he has now been lucky enough to have discovered a programme that works for him.

Since attending special school his never again been excluded and considering this was a weekly occurrence, it would seem evident that Vivo mile, along with good teaching has given my son the opportunity of educational success.

Little man actually brought all the family small Christmas gifts with his points before buying any raffle tickets (see… he was budgeting). If Vivo miles were able to have continued the raffles would he have entered anymore? Maybe, maybe not! He hasn’t mentioned wanting to and if he wants something he knows how to bleb on about it. Why am i so confident that Vivo Miles haven’t created a gambling monster? Given he entered just the one raffle out the 3 or 4 that were run and the fact his not searching for more makes me confident. His plan has always been to save his points for next years Christmas shop… Now does this look like the ideas of a newly formed gambler?

No… It doesn’t!

He won a raffle, lots of kids do and will continue to do so for years to come!

We won’t apologise for that and I won’t admit to allowing my 12 year old child with Aspergers gamble… Because that is simply not the case!

Reference: Related Mumsnet forum thread

Also another blogger from across the pond has some interesting points on this story: Chellie’s World

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Peace of mind with KidCam

8 Dec

17

Days till Christmas

When you’re a parent to a child on the autism spectrum as well as an 8-year-old Diva & an active toddler of almost 2, you kinda wonder why god didn’t implant eyes in the back of your head!

With all three children having their own interest, you often find them dotted all over the house doing something or another.

Now, I know that children are entitled to their privacy, just like anyone else, but… and yes, this is a very “Big” but, there are some situations that require mummy’s watchful eye! OK, the Little man is totally safe when shut in his room playing lego or memorising bus destinations for hours on end. Alice-Sara can often be left to her own devices when off playing with her beloved Monsters High or off creating art in her bedroom but Harley is most certainly at the age that requires constant supervision and when the other two are together or of playing downstairs, they also need my watch over! Yes, in our house its pretty easy for things to turn from rosy to… Well, Bonkers, especially when Little man lashes out at his sister, he can really go for it, plus she don’t do half bad a detecting, then pushing his buttons!

Most parents will likely relate when I say it isn’t unusual for all hell to break loose when your back is turned as you try so desperately to engage in a little washing up or hovering in the next room. Seriously It’s risky business is that!

So… when this mum received the offer to review KidCam from Storage Options, it was one of those offers that are simply to dam good to refuse!

KidCam is truly awesome, you can use it as a baby monitoring system, put it in the car to keep an eye on them little monsters in the back seat, or even watch over them as they play in separate rooms (with its spilt screen function).

The KidCam consists of two small compact wireless cameras, wireless 4.3” (11 cm) companion screen, 2x home camera stands, 2x camera suction mounts, a home screen stand, 3x power adaptors/chargers plus instruction manual.

What I found fantastic about KidCam was it versatility! You can take it anywhere around the home, it’s so compact & extremely light weight, yet it does all it promises and more! Another top feature was the spilt screen, meaning you can watch two children playing in different areas at the one time (one in their bedroom, another in the garden)! The two wireless cameras transmit a crystal clear picture, plus sound, back to the wireless monitor giving you the parent total peace of mind all of the time.

The KidCam works for up to a 100 m range, which is why this system is designed for the home and garden (though it can be used in the car with the use of an additional adaptor)! You can carry the monitor around the home with you, wherever you go, no need to sit by a power point or panic when you need to dart of to use the bathroom.

The system also works well as a baby monitor or when introducing a child to their own bedroom for the very first time as the KidCam is fully equipped with night-vision. Since I’ve received the KidCam, I’m able to work at my desk without the constant need to get up and find out why the children are so quite (we all know when kids are too quite, this usually means trouble)! I’m also the type of mother who will go and check on my sleeping tribe a million and one times, giving them a poke to make such they move (nightmare mother, I know)!

Now, I don’t want my house turning into some “Big Brother house” but sometimes I am busy and stuff doesn’t do itself, so the KidCam provides me with a way to get the dishes done or hover the hallway without having to worry. KidCam gives me total reassurance if and when I need it, day & night or just here and there, whatever suits me, that’s the beauty of it!

So… There you have it… the KidCam is compact, small, light, versatile, attractive, reliable and offers a parent like me loads of reassurance.

This baby has it all… it has all that of the above, plus its easy & quick to set-up.

I really wasn’t disappointed with KidCam! Would I recommend it? Most defiantly I would!

Priced at £160 we’re not talking cheap, but you really do get what you pay for and this is pure quality.

The KidCam is available now from Storage Options

Disclosure: I received a KidCam for the purpose of this review.

A little bit of inspiration

23 Jul

As I sit here happily, typing while listening to some Mary J. Blige, I think back to a time when things weren’t so pretty!

This time last year I saw myself battling and fighting for my sons rights. I was at the start of a discrimination claim against my Sons old mainstream primary school and was still, like thousands of others desperately trying to obtain a statement of special educational needs so my son would get the support needed in a school better suited to his complex needs. These two battles pushed me to the core, not only was I becoming stressed both physically and mentally, so was my son. I knew I couldn’t give up, not when my son was being treated like an outsider and even faced the prospect of permanent exclusion. He was never allowed on trips or was hidden away during inspections or when the parents of prospective pupils toured the school. He was highly misunderstood and it was slowly killing me! I was never quit prepared for what it would take to get myself through them hard and deliberating days. I had heard some talk about the battles fought to obtain these statements, get children into schools that catered to their needs, yet you never quite realise the true extent of what it takes out of you till your neck high in it! Honestly, I cannot begin to put this into words, those parents of children with SEN (special educational needs) will know what I mean when I say, “It could have quite possibly caused me to experience a full on mental break down! There were tears, shit… far to many tears, appointments, meetings, exclusions and phone calls, over and over again. Some days I was close so very, very close to giving up! Yes, I would often vacillate between giving up or pushing on! I remember all those voices, the ones that told me, “Don’t give up Claire, Its worth it in the end.” Yet it made no difference to me then! That light at the end of the tunnel was nowhere in sight.

It’s one year later and my children have just broken up from school! Unlike last year, I don’t dread the day my son returns, not now he will be returning to a better place. Yes, as many know already, Little man is in an Independent special school for children who have autism/aspergers as their primary need.

Little man spent so long isolated in mainstream, then home schooled before finally getting a great tutor. However he was still without a peer group! I really did think that it would take so much longer to settle in this new school than he actually has. He is already up one sub-level in his reading and earned himself a fantastic school report. His school have told me his a, “Great lad and a lovely boy!” For me this is amazing and almost brought me to tears. Silly… I think not! If you have ever watched your child’s education and self confidence fade away, then you will understand this feeling of joy I’m now feeling inside.

I know there are still hundreds of thousands of parents still fighting that same battle and by god do I empathise! The experience affected me in such a way that in November last year I started a voluntary role advising parents on their children’s educational rights and helping them through the tribunal process. I also started a Facebook page a few years back that now has over four thousand members, parents like me and young people on the spectrum comment daily about the lack of support received from the system. I hear our own story repeated over and over, so similar in so many ways it’s scary. I try and encourage them parents not to give up and remain strong for themselves and their child, yet I know that like me they must think, “It’s no use!” But those who have read my story over the past three years would have read some of my most testing moments, from pre diagnosis to full diagnosis, court cases brought against myself for non school attendance and the battle to bring Little mans discrimination at school to a final end. You will remember the posts that I wrote through tears at the inability to get my child what he needed,  “A Statement” and the tears I cried for once I had succeed it was hardly worth having. Then there’s the fight for an amended statement and a long search for a place in a special needs school. Gosh the sheer pain I felt discovering that every school the LEA approached just refused him, stating his needs could not be met, No one would give him a chance! The LEA would not agree to my parental choice of an independent special school, so… I fought and fought and with all my strength giving all I had, we made it… we finally made it here!

 Achievement slips and certificates replace the dreaded exclusion letters. Phone calls are made and emails are sent containing words of prise! Although his had some difficulty days, those around him understand why, they remain consistent,  they just get it! This was something I found difficult to vision a year ago. I never dreamed I would be displaying a picture of a smiling Little man at his new school, Yes that special school I fought for! I never imagined that I would proudly post a picture of all his rewards. This wasn’t because a lack of faith in my child, but a lack of faith in a system that had continually let us down.


I’m not stating we will never face a difficult moment again, and will always now remain overcautious. I’m sure we will have our ups and downs, but for once, for the first time in a long time, I feel we have achieved something amazing. My son is writing, literally putting pen to paper, something he had refused to do for a whole year! Things like these are the little things a parent of a child that has no difficulties could easily take for granted. For us these are reasons to celebrate.

Do you know how long it is since my son did a parenting and actually enjoyed it… To long! When he brought this painting home today I was incredible proud, so much so I could have burst.

I have a few reasons why I decided to bring you this post today. I of course had a desire as a mother to shout from the roof tops, “Check it out my sons star of the week at school” (the worlds of the proud mother). My second reason was to post in the hope that all my readers, the ones who are in that dark place I was in a year back, take some inspiration from it, they remember my story and think, “If she can do it, so can we!” and lastly because today is Special Saturday

I wish every single one of you the best of luck, stay strong, I’m always here to listen.

The waiting game

8 Mar

Is it just me or is the rest of the country wondering when the hell this ‘green paper’ is going to be published?

A little delay is fine, if anything we expect it, but this is fast becoming a joke

Children’s, families minister Sarah Teather has been promising to publish the green paper for months, first announcing it back in July 2010 it was said the paper was scheduled to be published in the autumn.

Sarah gave parents like me a glimmer of hope. Getting our children’s special educational needs met is something of an up hill battle at present. The green paper could potentially make things a tad easier, given that the views of parents and charitable organisations have been taken into consideration when first called upon.

With the promise of giving us parents more say when it comes to where our children are educated mainstream or other, and just how that education should be given sounded a blessing.

However this is just looking less promising by the day! I’m starting to wonder if this paper really exists at all. First it was November then it was  February now March, and so far no sign of any paper.

We as parents really don’t need such delays. All over the country our children are failed by the system on a daily basis. local authorities take forever to make important decisions regarding our children’s special educational needs and once made, these decisions are all to often the wrong ones!

Most have to endure the long drawn out process of appealing local authority  decisions to the tribunal just to get their childs special educational needs met. Even if a parent does manage to win their appeal nothing is set in stone with some local authorities failing to carry out the order of the judge.

The system is full of blanket policies and empty promises. The criteria children are expected to meet before a statutory assessments is carried out is unreasonable and it’s often the case that parents are given false information regarding the reasons surrounding a refusal whether that’s in relation to a refusal to assess or statement. The subject on timescales being met is a whole different matter altogether!

The prospect of a statement is undoubtedly small, those that do receive a proposed statement u can bet your life it needs amending. Then there’s those that look good on paper but contain many hidden little twist, wording that I can only describe as fluffy! Opportunities,often, assess to and my favorite by far, ‘regular’ are all terms often used within the childs statement meaning the provision isn’t as specific and clear as the parent first thought.

Then we have the subject of delegated funding. This one really bloody rattles my cage. To many LEAs are trying to wiggle out of their legal responsibilities when it comes to providing what’s in a childs statement informing parents the requirement to fulfil this duty no longer lies with them but the school instead. This is just pure horse s***!

Whether the school delivers the provision in the childs statement or not, the local authority have a legal duty to make sure that the child receives the provision stated in the statement. If they don’t it’s them who are in breach of the law, not the school!

I am sick of waiting for this system to fix up! I’m not suggesting for one minute the green paper will be the answers to our prays, “Not by a long shot” however this is a start and one that can’t come soon enough for some, myself included!

The word on the grapevine (well goggle) is that the paper is now complete, ‘said with rolling eyes and slight shake of the head.’ It’s contents will be but before a group of ‘leaders’ during the ‘green paper summit’ on Wednesday the 9th of March at Westminster.

This group of leaders will be made up of head-teachers/governing bodies of both primary and secondary schools, leaders of early years settings aswell as those of PRUs and of course members of the local authorities. Speakers at the conference include Sarah Teather herself, Charlie Henry (principal officer, special educational needs & disability, Ofsted) and Phil Snell (DFE) All will have the opportunity to respond to the paper, discussing any concerns etc. “Oh my god how I would just love to be a fly on that wall!”

The summit isn’t some ‘free’ event, but one that cost a rather nice tidy sum of money, £195.00 per delegate to be excate! Something tells me this won’t be coming out of their own pocket. I’m also wondering why on earth they would pay to attend especially those from the local authority, after all £195.00 is a great deal of money to those that don’t really give a damn about our children’s needs and are offering statements worth less. Is the money collected from the ticket sales going to be put back into the system in order to deliver the provision our children are all to often denied? Mmm, maybe it will be used for something much more important, I dunno like, “holidays and supplies of dog chum for snot nosed MPs”

Come on guys we are hanging out for this paper too! Are we ever gonna see what’s in it?

If the White paper anything to go by then I smell trouble

Here’s hoping that the wait proves worth it, and the green paper is a cut above the rest!

Were counting on you Sarah, every single one of us parents who has a child with SEN are preying you make us proud.

Note at the time of publishing it was discovered that the Government have proposed to publish the ‘Green Paper’ next Tuesday. This I will believe when I see it!

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