Well, this is exciting – for me, anyway!

It’s a bit like being a child in a sweet shop and not knowing what to choose first in case the change didn’t stretch to another ‘go’, or how children might feel starting a new school year ... a mixture of excitement and trepidation.

By now, hopefully all school-age children entrusted by parents to the care and protection of the Education Authority are settled back into school.

The vision of this august regional authority is “to inspire, support and challenge all our children and young people to be the best that they can be”.

Note the small word– it says “ALL children”. A line from a poem by T. S. Eliot, entitled, ‘The Hollow Men’, might be a more appropriate strapline line: “Between the idea and the reality falls the shadow.”

Some 12 working days before school started, some children still had no idea in what educational institution – otherwise known as a school – they might be kept safe, appropriately and adequately supported and inspired.

Nobody had yet advised their parent/s or primary carer (not all children and young people have parents looking after them, or able to fight their corner).

Others had been assigned a school but still had no idea how they were to get there, and whether the transport would be free.

The children and young people without a school uniform or a school bus because they were still without a school were precisely those who, more than any other child, needed early certainty and time to prepare for the event.

Some may have spent the whole summer managing anxiety, and because one of the special education needs children with special needs can have is the need for certainty and an ‘early warning’ system for changes in environment, routine, and people in their personal space.

Reducing everything to initials reduces our understanding of everything represented by the actual words.

It doesn’t take too much vision to place children with the greatest need, whatever the need is, at the heart of a strategy intended “to inspire, support and challenge all our children and young people to be the best that they can be”, rather than leave them to the end as an obligatory add-on.

The concept of education remains centred on the idea that schools from the earliest age are for creating the future academic elite, captains of industry, and leaders of government institutions with inspirational strap-lines.

Why are those who need the most help left to the end of every queue is a question worth sticking with, until you find an answer that doesn’t insult your humanity and intelligence!

‘Every Child Matters’, ‘Best start in life’ and ‘enjoying, learning and achieving’ – these are all strategies that are what might be described as fine words currently buttering no parsnips for families doing their very best to get through, one week, one day at a time.

How can children at primary school or older – and even savvier young people in second-level education – enjoy learning and achieve when they are anxious about what will happen next , how they will manage, and are fearful that they will be overwhelmed by it all?

How can they concentrate on, never mind enjoy, learning if they are hungry, or worried because they know they will be by lunch time, and they don’t have dinner money, or lunch, or know that their parent/s didn’t eat breakfast to ensure that they had a sandwich for lunch?

Comfortable families are a shrinking pool, as this place goes to hell on a handcart that nobody seems to have a grip on.

There was a day when the teacher was a certainty to be in the ‘comfortable’ category, but now may just as easily number among those who have gone to work on fairly empty stomachs.

How are they supposed to concentrate on supporting and inspiring in under-resourced schools with increased class-sizes and educational demands, and hungry, anxious children, some of whom need more time and support than the equation permits?

Those still above the pain threshold probably still believe we are all making a mountain of a mole-hill, while they trot out platitudes and prejudices about money not growing on trees, and people making better life choices, unwinding from their own stress with the middle-priced glass of Shiraz they can still afford.

The way things are going, it will soon be their turn to wake up and be looked down on by those perched, but not yet precariously, on the rung just above them on the social and economic ladder.

I digress – ‘Tuesday Night Ladies’ – a Julie Turner song, sums up the delusions beautifully. Look it up, if you haven’t heard her.

We have now reached a position where those on the average Northern Ireland income are likely to be in ‘negative equity’.

‘Average’ is a great word, and ‘negative equity’ covers a multitude.

There are three definitions of ‘average’ when people talk about numbers – the Mean, the Median and the Mode – apologies if that brings back traumatic memories of Maths class. But stay with me, here!

Statisticians generally use the median average when talking about who earns money. The average (median) wage means half of all wages fall below that figure, and half above salaries are the same thing as wages, but make people feel more important.

This is a different figure than the average (mode), which is the wages the greatest number of people earn. Spot the difference?

Just because it is topical, let’s look at the annual salary for a Chief Constable (£250,000), versus the annual starting salary for recruits to the PSNI (£26,682).

If there were only two people in the PSNI, the average salary would be just under £139,000, but one of them would still be living on a few thousand less than £27,000 a year when their tax and National Insurance was paid, which right now, each would leave them with not enough money to comfortably pay the bills every month if mortgage/rent and children and transport were also in the equation.

Newly qualified teachers earn even less than student police officers.

If you are reading this, working and thinking you would risk either job to earn more than £25,000 a year as a full-time wage, you already know what I’m talking about.

You are living on your nerves, and on credit, or going without. If wholly or largely dependent on social security, you deserve a medal for getting out of bed and facing another day.

Meanwhile, the political noise from an out-of-tune fiddle gets louder, and the smell of something burning is undeniable.