Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Below is mine (no. 122)
SUBMISSION TO THE CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES SELECT COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: Elective Home Education Inquiry
1. Introduction of yet another home educator
2. The scope of the terms of reference for the Review; child abuse and WMD
3. The constitution of the Review Team, football coaches and butchers
4. Tampering with, and manipulative changes to questions and text, invalidating the whole review
4.1 The 6 questions
4.2 The 60 questions
4.3 Question number 6 / a.k.a. number 7
5. More spinning and twisting...
5.1 Recommendation 7, What Badman says and what Balls wants
5.2 Submission from the Church of England, the whole story
6. Independent and unbiased, out of the question
Dear Members of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee,
Thank you for your invitation to submit evidence regarding the Review of Elective Home Education and the resulting Report and Recommendations.
1- Introduction of yet another home educator
I am a home educating parent, not a lawyer, not a politician and English isn't my first language, so writing a submission to your Committee is quite a challenge. Of my three - home educated - children, two are already over 18 (both in employment and continued education) and the youngest is making her way to university, so at first sight there is no personal necessity for me to testify. But the reality is that I live in this country and it is most likely that my future grandchildren will live here, too. Therefore I feel it's my duty to speak out and provide what evidence I can about the way the Review was conducted and the Report was put together, and about the possible impact of the Recommendations and the licensing scheme that would result from it.
I hope you will excuse me for mistakes in language, and for not being all scientific and providing you with the results of in-depth research; I do not have the means, nor the time, nor the knowledge for that.
2- The scope of the terms of reference for the Review; child abuse and WMD
I have never had a problem with openly discussing the prejudices people quite often hold about our elected way of learning. But Baroness Morgan gave the prejudice a whole new angle when she commissioned the Review to Graham Badman and explained in the media that one of Mr Badman's tasks would be to identify what evidence there was that home education was possibly used as a cover for child abuse, forced marriage, domestic servitude or other forms of child neglect. Established within our own community as we are, the statement and review have raised quite a few unbelieving eyebrows and critical questions with people who know us, but beyond our own community we - and home educators in general - are often subjected to the 'no smoke without fire' attitude. It is a known fact that this kind of information, when coming from a figure of authority through the national media, is often perceived as truthful by the general public. It is also a fact that Mr Badman found as little evidence of child abuse, forced marriage, domestic servitude or other forms of child neglect amongst home educators as Lord Butler found of WMD in Iraq. I won't go as far as comparing the consequences of these two Reviews, but I will state that our family and a huge number of home educators feel that they are being attacked on false allegations.
Under the pretext of welfare issues this is yet another attempt to get a government controlled grip on the completely legal educational choice of a minority group.
3- The constitution of the Review Team, football coaches and butchers
A majority of home educators have inside knowledge and experience of the school system and for quite a few of us that is actually the reason to home educate. Others choose to home educate because there are no schools that provide the kind of education they prefer. Whatever the reason to home educate, it is safe to assume that knowledge about the school system was part of the equation.
Elective home education is a form of education suitable to age, aptitude and ability and to any special needs (a) child(ren) might have, provided otherwise than by a school. It covers a rainbow of diversity in methods, from very structured and curriculum following school at home to child led and autonomous education.
Of the twelve members of the Review Team only one showed insight in the nature of Elective Home Education, none of the others had any actual experience of it, nor have they displayed any knowledge of the nature or workings of current legislation regarding EHE.
The leader of the review himself has knowledge and experience only of education within the school system and is the former Managing Director of Children, Families and Education in Kent, a county with a history of ultra vires practices towards and bad relations with home educators.
Although he's an extremely capable sportsman, nobody would ask Sir Alex Ferguson to judge the finals of the Olympic Figure Skating and nobody would expect a butcher to advice a vegetarian on what to eat.
Mr Badman and the members of the Review Team may all be experts in their own field, but none of them has the qualifications or background to (help) produce an expert report on Elective Home Education and the remit of the Review doesn't allow enough time to gather the required background information, research results and statistics. This has been made even more obvious by Mr Badman himself, who at the very last moment has asked Local Authorities for more information to back up his already written and accepted Recommendations.
4- Tampering with, and manipulative changes to questions and text, invalidating the whole review
4.1 The 6 questions put to home educators and private people were leading, if not manipulative. In spite of that 1600 home educating parents and children (and not 2000 as Mr Balls suggests in his letter of acceptance) managed to put their views across, which resulted in 80% of the in total 2000 respondents stating they were happy with the status quo . Although this outcome was mentioned in the report, it was most certainly not reflected in the recommendations or in the current consultation.
4.2 In sharp contrast to the above, the Local Authorities had 60 questions to answer, although there seemed to be another questionnaire going around, too. Although anybody could answer the 6 questions in the public consultation, the 60 questions were reserved for LA's only. One would expect an independent reviewer to listen equally to both sides and give both sides equal opportunities for input.
4.3 A most disturbing thing happened to the last question of the short consultation. When it was presented to the public as question number 6, it read: Some people have expressed concern that home education could be used as a cover for child abuse, forced marriage, domestic servitude or other forms of child neglect. What do you think Government should do to ensure this does not happen? (my emphasis). The official analysis of the consultation questions shows a similar phrasing ;
However: In the Report to the Secretary of State, Annex C , question 6 of the consultation, now referred to as question 7 of the public call for evidence, reads:
Some people have expressed concern that home education could be used as a cover for child abuse, forced marriage, domestic servitude or other forms of child neglect. What do you think Government should do to ensure this cannot happen again? (my emphasis).
Two important changes:
1) The 'consultation questions' became a 'public call for evidence', and
2) The different phrasing changes the meaning of the question about possible preventive policy change to policy that would deal with existing abuse.
In my opinion this alone renders not only the consultation and the conclusions drawn from it, but also the whole review, invalid. As I, here below, and undoubtedly others in their submissions, will point out to you there are many more reasons to suspect that the outcome of this review was pre-determined and the recommendations drafted beforehand.
5- More spinning and twisting...
5.1 In Recommendation 7 Mr Badman wants LA personnel to have the right to speak with each child alone if deemed appropriate or, if a child is particularly vulnerable or has particular communication needs, in the company of a trusted person who is not the home educator or the parent/carer.
Apparently, to Mr Balls this utterly disgusting form of intrusion on the life of innocent (as in: not suspected of any crime) children and their family does not go quite far enough. In the letter he wrote on the same day the Report was presented to him, he says: We agree that home educated children must be seen regularly in their education setting, on their own, or with an independent person present as appropriate [...].
So where even Mr Badman leaves room for the fact that there could be instances where it might not be appropriate to demand to speak to a child alone, Mr Balls states that all home educated children must be seen on their own, as a rule. And the 'trusted' person that Mr Badman suggests should accompany the child if deemed appropriate, has become merely an 'independent' person in Mr Balls view.
5.2 In Chapter 4 - Elective Home Education in Context; the Views of Home Educators and Others - Mr Badman writes:
And the Education Division of the Church of England states its concern:
“that children and young people not in formal education are missing the benefits and challenges of learning in community with their peers. Children who do not go to school may not experience the social and cultural diversity encountered there; they will not learn how to deal with the rough and tumble of everyday life; they may never meet people with different faith and value systems. All such encounters, even the difficult or painful ones are enriching. We are concerned not only with the five Every Child Matters outcomes, but also with the spiritual well-being of all children and young people. Spiritual well-being arises not only from being cared for in a loving family and/or faith community, but also in encounters with people of different opinions and backgrounds; in learning to listen to a variety of opinions; to encounter diversity and the riches and life-enhancement it can bring. Spiritual well-being depends on living and taking a full part in community life. Children and young people in schools learn about and from the five major religions. This may be a difficult part of the curriculum for home educators to provide, yet it is vital for the Government’s community cohesion agenda that all children learn in a balanced way about the variety of religious values and practices, and to be encouraged to question their own beliefs and practices.”
As there is no reference to a context, to the unsuspecting reader it seems as if this is what the Church of England has to say about EHE. But the above is one out of ten points. Most other points show at least sympathy for people's choice to home educate and the concluding tenth point states:
We have seen no evidence to show that the majority of home educated children do not achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes, and are therefore not convinced of the need to change the current system of monitoring the standard of home education. Where there are particular concerns about the children in a home-educating this should be a matter for Children’s Services.
By only using point 7 Mr Badman has, in my opinion, taken part of the Submission out of its well balanced context, to give readers the impression that the Church of England is against Elective Home Education. In my opinion that can only be described as manipulative and misleading .
The fact that Mr Badman had to resort to these measures to discredit the value of EHE is more indication that he failed to find evidence to support his negative assumptions.
6- Independent and unbiased, out of the question
The Terms of Reference state: "Seek evidence on how the systems operate in practice from stakeholders, including home education groups, home educating families, local authorities and children's organisations." Yet, Mr Badman has failed to properly investigate numerous complaints by home educators about ultra vires practices of LA's, nor has notice has been taken of the more than 80% of respondents to the public questionnaire who thought current legislations was adequate and sufficient.
He has failed to properly research existing legislation and how it is being implemented by the different LA's. He has not properly researched the local authorities with good practice. I know that my own local authority, which has a very positive relationship with home educators in the county, has offered to provide examples of good practice and information about establishing a good working relationship with home educators, but that offer was not taken up by Mr Badman.
7.1 What Badman and Balls are proposing is effectively a licensing scheme for a minority of parents /carers. For these recommendations to become law without being discriminatory would require major changes to primary legislation, which would see all parents/carers requiring a license to provide the education of their choice.
7.2 There is a total disregard for the negative effects these recommendations are going to have on children and there is no mention whatsoever of a possibility to appeal to what could easily be the personal and or prejudiced opinion of an LA officer.
7.3 The way facts and figures have been manipulated, the way words and quotes have been twisted and misused, the lack of research into for instance the Scottish or the North American situation, the total lack of impartiality and the apparently immovable prejudices, all these factors together and more that I am unable to mention here as I have not had enough time to research it and not enough space to word it, make this report unreliable and untrustworthy and therefore invalid.
7.4 As there is no evidence that there are welfare issues that cannot be dealt with under current legislation, and as there is no evidence that the law does not provide enough possibilities to determine whether a sufficient education is being provided, there is no reason to implement any of the recommendations.
7.5 This is a last minute submission and I am aware of many more things that I could and maybe should have said. But the reality of the situation is that I am a practicing home educating mother and foster carer, self employed, with a very busy and intense life. I hazard a guess that the time I have invested on reading up on the Review, filling in the questionnaire, discussing matters with both fellow home educators and non-home educators as a result of false rumours, informing MP's and other interested parties about EHE and gathering evidence for this submission, by far exceeds the time Mr Badman and his Review Team together have spent on it. The fact that they got paid for it and I - and all these other home educators who are doing the same and more - am doing this on a voluntary basis, should be an indication how much we care and how much we want to protect our children and families.
Home Education is not a choice lightly made and home educating a family is not without sacrifices. I sincerely hope that the Select Committee will honour this and recognize that it is time to let home educators get on with what we do best and with more love, dedication and commitment than any system could ever offer: Providing our children with an education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude and any special needs they might have.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
22 September 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I closed my eyes - just for a brief moment. My head was spinning and I saw and heard all these words, first separately, then blending together:
Child abuse - access to child - home education - stranger - child abuse - cover - safety - no parents...
And then, all the sudden, I had this image of myself, sitting behind a table, with home educating friends on either side of me. The sign in front of me said: Special Minister of Elective Home Education. On the other side of the table a room full of people with camera's, microphones and notebooks. I was obviously giving a press conference! A lady pointed a microphone at me and asked: "Minister, could you tell us what this review is for? Isn't this an infringement of the right of civil servants to do whatever they want?"
And I read out a prepared statement:
"There are concerns that some civil servants are not performing the tasks the tax payers pay them to do. And that in some extreme cases being a civil servant could be used as a cover for paedophilia or other forms of child abuse.
Quite a few people in government and civil services are undoubtedly doing a fantastic job and I want to ensure that they get the continued support of the people who voted for them and are paying them. But we can't afford to let any paedophile slip through the net - for the sake of our children's safety and our families' wellbeing.
Several thousands of paedophiles are registered, but a much larger number of them are invisible to the authorities. We have to balance the rights of privacy of civil servants' against the pre-eminent rights of children to a safe and loving life, preferably with their own families."
Again a lot of noise. The same words, not only buzzing around in my head, but also in that room full of reporters and journalists. It was just too much for me and I closed my eyes again.
Next thing I knew, I was sitting in my own safe and familiar living room, papers all around me, on the floor, on the settee next to me. In my hand a page of the Badman Report, the one with Recommendation 7. I looked around. No reporters. No camera's. I listened carefully, but I didn't hear those words anymore, only my daughter upstairs, singing and playing the guitar.
Strange games the supposedly logical mind combined with tiredness can play on people. Mixing up things that just don't go together, that don't add up. Well, they shouldn't. No, they can't. Can they? No, a Minister of Elective Home Education, that's just unthinkable.
That will never ever happen.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
"Because we like it, it suits us and we all thrive on it."
Then, in the open mouthed and raised eyebrows silence that follows, I ask people: "Why do you send your children to school?" The answer is rarely the same as mine. The few families I know who feel the same about school as we do about home education have usually carefully selected a school, and often the parents are very much involved with the school and their children's education.
Mostly, however, I get one of the following answers:
(a) Because they have to go to school
(b) Because I want to have a life (or job) of my own / I wouldn't want to have my children around all day
(c) It hasn't done me any harm (or even: I had a good time in school).
(d) Because I couldn't possibly teach them myself
(e) Because they need to be around other children / socialize, and learn how to deal with life
(f) Because how else could they get qualifications and a good job?
Of course everybody is - and should be - free to make their own choice. But most, if not all of the above reasons are often based on insufficient information and/or misconceptions.
a. Because they have to go to school
No, they don't.
Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states:
"The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable ;
a) to his age, ability, and aptitude,
b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise." (my emphasis)
So, parents have a duty to provide their children with a suitable education. If they choose to delegate that duty to a school, they are entitled to be informed about the standard and quality of education provided. That's - officially - the reason why the State inspects schools. If parents choose to educate their children otherwise, for instance from home, then the Local Authorities have a right to enquire whether the child is in receipt of the above specified education. If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education. (Section 437 Education Act 1996).
b. Because I want to have a life (or job) of my own / I wouldn't want to have my children around all day
On first appearances those are very good reasons to send your child(ren) to school.
If you (and your partner) think you'd be unhappy having your children around and (both of) you prefer to have a fulltime paid job, then maybe your children are better off in school. However, there may come a moment when you realize that for one reason or another it would be beneficial or desirable to be more involved in your children's lives. Then it's good to know that there are ways to have it all.
In our family we've managed to combine work and children in such a way that one of us has always been at home for (or away with) the children. A life of our own very much includes our children, while we also both have our time away from them. And - in spite of all that *grin* we are still quite happily married, having celebrated our 30th anniversary this year.
I suppose it might be a daunting thought to have to 'keep them amused' if your only experience of having them around involves children who are normally in school and after-school activities, where their time is usually managed for them. But the reality of home education is quite different. Life happens in a much more organic rhythm and is not divided up in equal blocks of always limited time. Because we follow the questions and the natural interest of our children they can be involved in what they're doing for hours, days or weeks. Of course we are there to accommodate or - if needed - to help, but not only is that a far more relaxed kind of interaction, it is quite a lot of fun, too.
Within this construction there is space for times when nothing happens - on the outside. I often compare that to the tides. When the tide is in there's lots of activities, questions, outings, big visible waves. And then comes the moment when they're saturated, filled to the brim. Then the tide is out, lots of relaxing, reading, contemplating, no visible waves.
c. It hasn't done me any harm (or even: I had a good time in school)
That could be a very good reason to have no objection to sending your children to school. And there is a good chance that your children have a good time, too. There are children who do very well in school and/or have no problems.
But the same goes here, there might come a time when you find out that school is doing your child harm and that they're not having a good time in school. And then it's good to know you have the choice, as mentioned under (a).
d. Because I couldn't possibly teach them myself
This myth has most certainly been around too long. First of all, children don't need teachers. They need to have the opportunity to learn. And especially nowadays, with technology at our fingertips, anybody can learn whatever they want. But even without a computer and the internet in your home, there are plenty opportunities to find answers to questions, to ask other people, to learn together. My personal experience is that teaching often gets in the way of learning, and this is supported by research - done mainly in the US, such as this Nheri Report - showing that home educated children of certified teachers do slightly 'worse' (a nasty word, I'm sorry) in standardised tests than those of parents who are not certified teachers.
As I've said above, I genuinely enjoy learning, discovering and exploring together with my children. And there are so many wonderful people out there, who are more than happy to share their knowledge and their passions with us.
Another myth is that children wouldn't learn unless they're being told to. Rubbish. There is no end to the natural curiosity and will to learn of a child, or of any human being, for that matter. And I'm sure everybody can easily think of examples, from baby's learning to crawl, walk, talk and sing to adults learning everything there is to know about their hobby's.
e. Because they need to be around other children / socialize, and learn how to deal with life
Of all the myths surrounding the benefits of school, this one is the biggest. And at the same time apparently the most difficult one to debunk. My general take on the matter is that the need for socialisation is so strong within children (human beings) that they manage to socialize, even in schools. Children will socialize. But all in their own way. Some have only one or two true friends, others couldn't live without being constantly in the company of at least a dozen others. Some get on really well with people of their own age, some thrive by associating with people older or younger - or both - than themselves. As with everything, it is very individual.
The point is that for many children the school way of socializing is a way they would never choose naturally. In fact, many students perceive school to be a kind of prison, as professor Peter Gray describes here.
My own children have all very different needs when it comes to socializing, and not being in school has not stopped them from becoming socially adept young people. They all have a social life that suits their needs, they have good and lasting friendships and friends with whom they can share good, hard, happy and sad times. Neither has not being in school stopped them from having friends who are or have been in school.
Nor is it true that not being in school hasn't prepared them for life. I even dare say that not being in school has given them more opportunities to experience life as it is really lived. And yes, they have been exposed to and learned to deal with bullying. They know what competition is. They know what sadness is. They know what happiness is. They know what hard work is. They know how to look after themselves. They know how to budget. They know how to cook and sew and clean a house.
But most of all, they know who they are, they know their own strengths and weaknesses, they know what they want in life and how they can get there.
So, why do you send your child(ren) to school?
I'm not saying people shouldn't send their children to school. I'm glad that we (still) have a relatively free choice. I only hope that after having read the above, people understand that if
- you want to provide your children with an education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs they may have,
- you want an education that you and your children like, that suits you and that allows all of you to thrive,
you do not HAVE to send your children to school
everybody CAN home educate, if they want.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
But since our move into town we seem to have opened up to the outside world again. Even stronger, I like to think. And more than ever convinced of the value of autonomous living. It is slightly bizarre that a lot of the choices we make now, seem to bring us in direct contact - and even make us work closely together - with the authorities.
Our decision to start fostering again led to tackling lots of red tape, assessment by social workers, over and over again explaining / defending our choice to home educate our children, the scrutinizing of our family life, in short: it was quite invasive. But, it was our own choice, as a family. We had agreed to it and if we'd felt it was too much, we could have ended it.
If the recommendations made by Mr Graham Badman in the Report about Elective Home Education are going to be made law, there will be no choice, and such an intrusive treatment will await people for the mere fact that they have chosen to home educate.
The difference is clear to me and to the other members of my family:
For the fostering the authorities, who act in loco parentis to already damaged and vulnerable children, have to make as sure as possible that these young people will be safe and well looked after. I can see that as being supportive to the cared for children.
In the case of home educated children there is no reason whatsoever to assume that the parents are not fulfilling their legal parental duties to the child(ren), so no reason for the authorities to act in loco parentis. Unrequested monitoring and inspection of home educating families is not supportive and could even be abusive.
Just the idea of this possibly becoming law has caused a lot of unrest and resentment in our family. Not because we are scared that we couldn't continue living as we do; we have no such fear. But the sheer injustice of it, the fact that the government seems to think they have the right to take away basic freedoms of individual people - and we DO all believe that it will not be limited to home educators - and to interfere in the sanctity of family life, thát has raised our hackles.
Another hot topic in our house results from Owen's decision to sign up for the Army. We all know that this is what he has wanted to do all his life and although nobody likes to see a loved one going off to dodge bullets and roadside bombs in a far away country, we do accept that this is Owen's choice about his life. But what makes it utterly painful to bear is that this government seems to have little respect for the very lives of our loved ones. It is disgraceful that the armed forces are not fitted out properly with protective gear and that there are not enough helicopers, because Mr Brown, as a chancellor, has cut the budget (but he himself is transported by an American helicopter when he visits the troops in Afghanistan). The most recent disgrace is the MoD going to court to try and have compensation costs for injured soldiers cut by no less than 75%!
All these things together have now brought Myrna to write a letter to government, stating her dissatisfaction and urging them to change their attitude. It will be sent to Gordon Brown, Ed Balls, the Select Committee of the DCSF, our MP and maybe some other Civil Servants. And we will see how seriously she will be taken, how seriously children's rights are taken by this government.
Here is Myrna's letter:
My name is Myrna Tennant, I’m fourteen and I’m Home Educated. My mother works from home as a book translator and my father is a stay-at-home dad.
I moved to England when I was seven because it is very difficult to Home Educate in the Netherlands, you need to go to court to get exemption.
School was never the right choice for me, and it definitely wasn’t the right choice for my older brother, who has Aspergers Syndrome. Because of this mild form of autism he was left out and bullied at his school by the other students and was singled out by the teachers, who never even bothered to try to get to know and understand him.
My mother pulled us out of school for mainly that reason.
We held it out in Holland for a while, but it was a very big fuss and we were frowned upon by a lot of people who didn’t agree with Home Education.
So we decided to move to England, the homeland of my father.
We lived in Penton (Cumbria) for five years. In that time my sister, the eldest of my two siblings, started a job in a nearby Bed & Breakfast and my brother and I went to Archery, while he also went to Judo and Cadets and I started private music lessons and group drama classes. Through these activities and the Home Educators meetings we went to weekly, we met a lot of great people, some of whom are now my closest friends and through whom I also met a lot of other amazing people.
We moved to Carlisle two years ago which was a great change for all of us, moving me and my siblings closer to our friends and activities, and making it easier for my sister to get a good job.
These days, we have recently been approved for child fostering, my sister works full-time for Mencap after having finished college, and has just found her own place to live. My brother is studying Jujitsu together with my father after passing his GCSE’s with flying colours (with the help of our part time private tutor in Science, Biology and Maths) and will soon be joining the army. I have now been a classical singer for five years and am soon taking my grade seven exam in singing and my grade five in theory, and I also play flute and guitar. I have sang at a wedding and frequently get asked to sing solo at concerts. I spend my days going to my music lessons, singing with my lovely choir, doing art and spending time with my friends, band and boyfriend. I plan to start studying Japanese and join my brother and father in Jujitsu and will also be taking my GCSE’s when I feel I’m ready to do so.
So you see, we’re just like any other normal family. I have the best family, friends and boyfriend I could have ever wished for and I wouldn’t change my life for the world. Of course we have our rough times and I have had my unpleasant experiences in life, but what person hasn’t? Life can not be lived without regrets; only a person who is truly ignorant and arrogant could say he’s never done anything he regrets.
So before you make assumptions about autonomous learning and invade people's privacy and their homes and sit kids down to talk about if they really want to be Home Educated, why not think about why you are really doing this? Or maybe you could even consider going to a school and asking the kids there how they enjoy school? I have a lot of friends who go to school and I don’t often hear nice things about it. What I hear about school is how teachers no longer enjoy what they do, kids are only bored and take nothing in anymore, they rebel, they bully and they stereotype. They divide themselves up into groups and don’t let anyone else in who doesn’t go by a certain way.
And this takes effect on how kids act outside of school. Some of my friends may fit some people's opinion of the stereotype “emo” or “scene” or “goth”, and therefore I have often had people shout insults at me and my friends, and even had things thrown at me for absolutely no reason but the way we dress or the music we enjoy. I even sometimes get bullied for being a classical singer.
And that is what the government is doing to the Home Educators, they are singling them out and treating them like there’s something wrong with them, just because of the decision to keep their child out of school, even if on many occasions that choice is made because the child is bullied in school, like my brother was. And therefore we get treated differently, badly. All that the government is doing is stereotyping and putting labels on things, just because they have the power to. The government are just bullies in the way that they use their superiority as a way of belittling people, while they could be using it for so much better things.
Instead of making everything cosy for yourselves, how about giving some thanks and support to the people who serve in the forces.
How about doing something about the homeless, the sick, and the children who are actually being abused?
Of course, I will not deny that there is a chance some people could use Home Education as a cover, but think about how little parents abuse their children, and then think about the percentage of those people who could be Home Educators. Will you really use that small amount of people to change the law for tens of thousands?
The only reason you’re saying that Home Education is a cover for child abuse is so you will get more people on your side for campaigning against it, because you don’t agree with it because it doesn’t fit in with your idea of perfect.
Well, the world is just not perfect is it?
It’s going to take a lot more than petty assumptions to make us back down, we fight for our rights, like any other person would.
We fight to keep things as they are now. There is no need for changes, there is a good law that protects people who need protecting. And we will protect the law that allows us to Home Educate and do Autonomous Education.
Government, spend your money on things that make a difference for the better. Start making things, stop breaking things.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
"8.14 - With regards to other specific groups within the remit of this inquiry I can find no evidence that elective home education is a particular factor in the removal of children to forced marriage, servitude or trafficking or for inappropriate abusive activities. Based on the limited evidence available, this view is supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers. That is not to say that there is no isolated cases of trafficking that have been brought to my attention."
That paragraph has most certainly been written with an intention to confuse, if nothing else. And my fingers are itching to pick this bit of manipulative writing to bits...
If only I had a bit more time... I might do it still, later...
But in spite of all the misleading phrases, in the end it says:
There is no evidence to support the allegations on which this review was started, that elective home education can be used as a cover for abuse, forced marriage, servitude or trafficking.
Hello everybody!! MP's!! PM!! Media! Watchdog? Ombudsman? Anybody! (Other than Ed Balls and Baroness Morgan, because they knew this all along):
This Review was based on false allegations and the Report with its repulsive Recommendations should be declared invalid. Immediately!
Home Educators were harrassed and - especially the children - put in a potentially vulnerable position, which has definitely caused great distress, to say the least.
Who else can treat a minority group like this and get away with it, without consequences? What, not only get away with it, but even still make an attempt to get their own evil way?
Hello, Britain! Wake up! This charade has lasted long enough!
They've taken our money for their second homes and luxury meals, they're trying to take our freedom and they are aiming to take control of our lives, our children.
We need to stop them. Now!
Friday, June 19, 2009
But the review didn't find any such evidence! **edit** See my next post with the quote from the report where Badman confirms the lack of evidence**** There is only a mention of the opinions and unsubstantiated assumptions of NSPCC, NASWE and LSCB in Chapter 8 [Safeguarding].
Still, that doesn't stop Ed Balls and Baroness Morgan to blatantly lie to both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Here's what I found today: [opens website from which the following documents can be downloaded]
**edit** As the site apparently is not always accessible, I will copy the Statement of Ed Balls at the end of this post****
The Written Ministerial Statement (House of Commons), by Ed Balls - and
The Written Ministerial Statement (House of Lords), by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin.
The documents are similar, only the second one has an introduction by our dear Baroness Morgan.
The venom is in the tail.
"The review also found evidence that there are a small number of cases where home educated children have suffered harm because safeguarding concerns were not picked up, or not treated with sufficient urgency, particularly where parents were uncooperative or obstructed local authority investigations."
And here again, as with the Submission of the Church of England in my previous post, there are no proper references given in Mr Badman's report. Sloppy, to say the least. No college teacher or professor would accept - or grade favourably - this report if it had been done by a student. Yet Ed Balls not only accepts it, but is trying to use it as a foundation for policy and new legislation.
Leading by example is one of the main principles in teaching, I would say.
How can the government even begin to expect me to trust them with anything, let alone the wellbeing, health, safety and - for crying out loud - the education of my children, if the example they're setting is one of low quality, cheating and lying?
Graham Badman and Ed Balls, sorry (well, not really), but both of you failed.
**edit: added - Written Ministerial Statement (House of Commons) by Ed Balls**
DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES
Review of Elective Home Education in England
The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls):
On 19 January 2009 I asked Graham Badman to carry out a review of elective home education in England. The terms of reference for the review emphasised the government's recognition of parents' well established right to educate their children at home. They also set out our commitments to keeping home educated children safe, and ensuring that they receive a suitable education. I am grateful to Graham Badman and the review team for conducting a thorough review which carefully considered extensive evidence provided by home educators; local authorities (LAs); and representatives from a wide range of organisations and individuals working with children and parents involved in home education.
The terms of reference commissioned Graham Badman to investigate the barriers to LAs and other public agencies in carrying out their safeguarding responsibilities; whether LAs were providing effective and appropriate support; and whether there was evidence of home education being used to cover child abuse. From this evidence, he was asked to identify whether any changes were needed to the current regime of monitoring home education.
The review makes a compelling case for substantial changes to the arrangements for supporting and monitoring home education. It recognises the wide range of philosophical and practical reasons that lie behind parents' decisions to home educate. It acknowledges that in some cases home educated children have been withdrawn from school under a range of difficult circumstances: this is reflected in the relatively high proportion of children with special educational needs who are home educated, and other cases where children have been bullied of had other experiences that leave them unable to attend school. These children and families need support from their local authorities in a way that enables them to access appropriate advice and guidance, receive specialist services, and use extended school provision and facilities such as leisure centres and libraries. The review argues for fresh thinking and further consultation with children, their families, local authorities and others involved in home education to identify ways to commission services for this very diverse sector in order to support the best possible outcomes for the children concerned.
The review also found evidence that there are a small number of cases where home educated children have suffered harm because safeguarding concerns were not picked up, or not treated with sufficient urgency, particularly where parents were uncooperative or obstructed local authority investigations. It sets out specific steps that should be taken to address these risks as well as improving the monitoring of the education provided: a compulsory registration scheme; a discretion to local authorities to prohibit home education where there are safeguarding concerns; and the right for LA representatives to interview home educated children to establish whether they are safe and receiving a suitable education. I am today launching a public consultation on these proposals so that they can be introduced to Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity.
Copies of the review and our initial response have been placed in the House Libraries.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
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Please take note of the part I've highlighted, before you continue reading.
On page 13 in Chapter 4: Elective Home Education in Context - the Views of Home Educators and Others, Mr Badman writes:
And the Education Division of the Church of England states its concern:
“that children and young people not in formal education are missing the benefits and
challenges of learning in community with their peers. Children who do not go to school may not experience the social and cultural diversity encountered there; they will not learn how to deal with the rough and tumble of everyday life; they may never meet people with different faith and value systems. All such encounters, even the difficult or painful ones are enriching. We are concerned not only with the five Every Child Matters outcomes, but also with the spiritual well-being of all children and young people. Spiritual well-being arises not only from being cared for in a loving family and/or faith community, but also in encounters with people of different opinions and backgrounds; in learning to listen to a variety of opinions; to encounter diversity and the riches and life-enhancement it can bring. Spiritual well-being depends on living and taking a full part in community life. Children and young people in schools learn about and from the five major religions. This may be a difficult part of the curriculum for home educators to provide, yet it is vital for the Government’s community cohesion agenda that all children learn in a balanced way about the variety of religious values and practices, and to be encouraged to question their own beliefs and practices.”
Mr Badman may view it a 'fundamental problem' that home educating parents do not have a 'representative voice' [page 14, 4.10] but that doesn't mean we don't communicate with each other. And although the Report (intentionally?) doesn't mention the source of this quotation, it was soon mentioned on some of the home ed lists that it was part of a ten point "Submission from the Church of England Education Division".
It took some doing, as the link on the available websites only produced encrypted documents, but eventually my much more computer literate husband managed to create a legible file for me (I have a pdf and a Word file, if anybody is interested) and I managed to copy the complete Submission into this post, at the end.
For the record, the fact that I copy it on here does not mean that this Submission represents my personal opinion (and this obviously especially goes for point 7).
May I draw your special attention to point 10?
"We have seen no evidence to show that the majority of home educated children do not achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes, and are therefore not convinced of the need to change the current system of monitoring the standard of home education. Where there are particular concerns about the children in a home-educating this should be a matter for Children’s Services."
And may I now remind you of the first page in Mr Badman's Report, in which it says "the text in this document (......) may be reproduced (.....) providing it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading context".
As a whole, I find the submission of the Church of England to be mostly sympathetic of Elective Home Education, with some points of concern, which I'd be delighted to discuss with them.
By only using point 7 Mr Badman has, in my opinion, taken part of the Submission out of its well balanced context, to give readers the impression that the Church of England is against Elective Home Education.
That's more than Bad. That's Evil.
Review of Elective Home Education
Submission from the Church of England Education Division
- Church of England Education Division
The Church of England Education Division is a provider of statutory education in over 4,500 Church of England primary schools and 220+ secondary schools and academies and of voluntary education and training of children and young people and adult learning.
- We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the independent review of Elective Home Education. We believe in the absolute value of each child and young person as being made in the image of God, and that we have a responsibility to safeguard the vulnerable, whilst offering the freedom needed for growth and development.
- We also believe in the importance of relationship within families and within communities, and that children and young people need to encounter a diverse range of people to enable them to learn to live in community and communion and to develop relationships outside their own family and close community.
- Children and young people need to be equipped to challenge oppression and injustice and where they are the victims of such oppression and injustice and have no voice that is heard, the Church should be advocates for them.
- As Christians, we cannot condone the use of home education as a cover for any form of child abuse. We are not aware of any research that shows how prevalent this is or whether it is widespread. Prevention of abuse under the cover of home education seems to be the main reason for this review, and in making it so, has the effect of tarnishing the reputation of the many parents who choose to home educate their children from the best of motives.
- Parents are in the vast majority of cases the best people to decide what is appropriate and best for their children, and those who choose for whatever reason to educate their children outside the state or independent system do so for many reasons.
- Our main concern about home education lies in (3) above: that children and young people not in formal education are missing the benefits and challenges of learning in community with their peers. Children who do not go to school may not experience the social and cultural diversity encountered there; they will not learn how to deal with the rough and tumble of everyday life; they may never meet people with different faith and values systems. All such encounters, even the difficult or painful ones, are enriching.
- We are concerned not only with the five Every Child Matters outcomes, but also with the spiritual well-being of all children and young people. Spiritual well-being arises not only from being cared for in a loving family and/or in a faith community, but also in encounters with people of different opinions and backgrounds; in learning to listen to a variety of opinions; to encounter diversity and the riches and life-enhancement it can bring. Spiritual well-being depends on living and taking a full part in community life.
- Children and young people in schools learn about and from the five major religions. This may be a difficult part of the curriculum for home educators to provide, yet it is vital for the Government’s community cohesion agenda that all children learn in a balanced way about the variety of religious values and practices, and to be encouraged to question their own beliefs and practices.
- We have seen no evidence to show that the majority of home educated children do not achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes, and are therefore not convinced of the need to change the current system of monitoring the standard of home education. Where there are particular concerns about the children in a home-educating this should be a matter for Children’s Services.
Church of England Education Division
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Something has been bugging me for a few days now and I cannot let it go. If only because I want a clean conscience. And because I want to walk the talk.
One of the things I've said in my letter to Baroness Morgan is that I would do anything within my power to stand up against abuse.
Now, I have a growing feeling that I am witnessing at least the onset of abuse and although I feel very uncomfortable watching, I am still limiting my response to trying to override my instincts and instead reason and rationalise. But hurt and damage is being caused. Trauma's are being formed. There is definitely an unequal situation, wherein one party - at least potentially - has power over another. The less powerful party is not entirely defenceless, but knows that in the end the other party has access to ultimate power.
If the situation I'm describing would be between an adult and a child, the authorities would (want to) be involved, the child would be in a protective programme and the adult would be up in court.
But in this case I'm not sure who to turn to for justice, because the more powerful party is representing the authorities and the less powerful party is represented by adults. In the end, though, children will be the victim of this abuse in the making.
Professor Heppell, I am a very visual thinker, and the image of you offering kisses to Gill - after first saying "Would you rather I'd left it to the Ofsted members" - was a final straw for me. It turns my stomach, to be honest.
I am all for engaging in dialogue, for exchanging view points, for open and non-violent communication. But the only fair way to conduct that is if both parties set out to respect each other and take each other one hundred percent seriously.
Please take a step back, Professor Heppell, and look at this situation. Look at it as if it concerned a situation with on one side a teacher who knows his grading is going to determine the future of his student, and on the other side the student, who is being asked to hand in his free spirit in exchange for a good mark.
Look at it as if it concerned a situation with on one side an employer who know his employee is depending on him for the income that supports his family, and on the other side the employee who is being asked to smother his free speech in exchange for an income.
Look at it as if it concerned a situation with on one side a (grand)parent who knows the child can't live and can't go anywhere without them, and on the other side the child who knows that if he doesn't do what the adult wants him to do, there will be no food, no home, no love.
I'm sure you don't want to be part of any of these situations, Professor Heppell. So please take a step back and consider what your position as member of the reviewing panel is in relation to our position as the party being reviewed for something we are falsely accused of.
Gill doesn't need your kisses - Gill deserves your support, your understanding and not in the last place: your apology.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
It's strange, in one way I feel there's already many people writing extremely good pieces, so maybe I shouldn't take the focus away from them. On the other hand I really feel it's about me, and about my family, and about the future of my children and their children, so I need to add my bit to it.
Obviously everyone's dilemma is what to write in such a limited space. How to phrase all that's so utterly important to us in so few words? I wonder if Mr Badman realises that each and everyone of us conscious and elective home educators could talk for hours and hours about the why and how of uninterfered-with home education. How can you make someone understand the essence of autonomous education if they are walking an entirely different path in life?
Anyway, I've decided that this - here below - is what I want to send. Any comments or corrections to English are most welcome.
Dear Mr Badman,
Thank you for inviting home educators to write to you regarding the ongoing review of Elective Home Education and thank you for your promise to read it all.
It was hard to decide what to write about, as I could easily fill a book with relevant facts, figures and feelings. As I expect you will be inundated with facts and figures by other home educators, I chose to write to you on a more personal level.
After all that's gone on and been said since the start of this review - and the previous consultations - it's hard to withstand the tendency to feel suspicious or hostile. Everything I believe in, live for and love dearly, seems to be under threat of being changed to such an extent that it would change the very core of my existence. And that's scary.
However, one thing I've learned since we chose to home educate our children autonomously, is that the only way to deal with fear is to stand up to it and face it. I will not let fear get the better of me, I will not let it rule my life. I will have faith and trust that my well considered choice to take full responsibility for the education of my own children gets the respect and recognition it deserves and is entitled to.
From that faith and trust I am now asking you to not let the overwhelming sense of fear that seems to rule our society nowadays, stand between you and sound judgment. To please look beyond and recognize that one very good way to conquer fear is for people to take responsibility for their own lives and, as a possible consequence, for the education of their own children. In whatever way they see fit.
And that by doing so the well-being of young people is improved and the chances of them being abused or neglected are reduced, not only within their own families and communities, but - eventually - in society as a whole.
As the absolute expert on my own children and after twelve years of autonomous home education I dare to say they wouldn't be the well balanced, confident, competent, independent and happy young people they are today if there had been a compulsive need for monitoring. Or if any outside and non-committed party had in any other way interfered with or tried to take control over their self directed way of learning and living. Being able to home educate in our own autonomous way has been very beneficial for our children and for us as a family.
Nothing and nobody can ever totally eradicate evil from this world. I am absolutely sure that existing legislation and guidance in this country is more than sufficient to tackle possible child abuse and threats to children's welfare as good as possible. There is enough evidence to suggest that LA's and other agencies involved in education and child welfare are not sufficiently informed and therefore not efficient when it comes to relating the existing legislation and guidance to elective home education. Improving that would surely result in a better outcome for all involved, and would certainly prevent a lot of unnecessary aggravation and harmful experiences to home educating families.
Please, Mr. Badman, let us get on with what we do so passionately and with more love, dedication and commitment than any system could ever offer: Providing our children with an education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude and to any special needs they may have.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Meanwhile, in spite of efforts to break home educators down, home ed life in this family has never been stronger. And busier for that matter. We've had amazingly intense weeks here, with lots of extremely exciting and positive things going on, which I will come back to in a minute.
There is no way I would ever concede the education of my children to the state. I strongly believe my children are quite capable of being in control of their own education in order to achieve their own goals in life and I've gladly taken it upon me to provide for them in any way I possibly can. I also believe that love, trust and respect are the strongest foundation to build a well balanced life on. And up to now the state haven't given me much reason to believe they're in any way capable, let alone willing to give my children the same opportunities as I as a parent can and want to give them. In other words, I do not want the responsibility for a suitable education for my children taken away from me.
At this moment I'm not sure what's the best way for me to help guarding the rights and the educational freedom we have in this country. I am trying to find out in what way I can put what I've got to offer to best effect. What have I got to offer, for that matter? That's not a question in self pity, it's a genuine attempt to self analysis.
- My knowledge of Dutch educational legislation, Dutch political systems and the mysterious ways the Dutch educational system works is of no use whatsoever, that's for sure.
- I am not very good with virtual groups, yahoo groups and all that. In 'real' groups it's hard enough for everyone to find a comfortable place, feel the dynamics and try and create - and maintain - a balanced atmosphere. But you can actually see the people, their facial expression, their body language. In a virtual group all you have is the written words, and if you're lucky you know one or a few of the other group members. You can't see the quiet ones, you don't feel the vibes, you don't see how people look at each other, whether they smile or not, and it's very hard to determine if what looks like an aggressive remark is based on frustration, sadness or bitterness. Also, unless you've been with a group from the very beginning, you won't know what's already been written about, if and how other members know each other, and you haven't got a clue how people really perceive your written words.
- Our geographical position and our way of life don't leave much room for meeting up with lots of other - politically active - home educators and the fact that I have to earn a living as well as eat and sleep, doesn't leave me with an abundance of time.
- In spite of everyone saying my English is good enough, language is a handicap. I still think in Dutch and writing in English is a challenge.
So what have I got to offer?
- My personal experience, I suppose, and the things I've learned in my own life. Mostly through trial and error.
- My passion for autonomous education and the fact that in the past ten years I have had to stand up for that on several occasions, in court, in the media, on seminars about education, in one to one situations, etcetera. Mostly in Holland, but I'm gathering quite a bit of UK experience :).
So where does that leave me as in making a constructive contribution to securing the legal right of freedom of education in this country?
I'm still not sure. And until I am I think I'll just stick to what I feel good and comfortable with and that's enjoying our autonomous life to the fullest. And every now and then I'll stick my nose into political matters, or I'll make a comment of the list I'm on because I really feel connected to something or someone.
But most of all I'll try and live in the moment, be calm and assertive when it comes to making sure my 'pack' is safe and happy and all the while love my children to bits. And my husband of thirty (!!!!) years, of course.
The past two weeks I was overwhelmed with happy and successful moments. Moments where my children were happy, ecstatic because they reached goals they'd set themselves. Because they had achieved what they wanted to.
Our eldest (19) started in her new job and after only two weeks got offered a fulltime job, including paid training to get the qualifications she wants. She is over the moon, feels self-confident and strong.
Our son (17) has been promoted to Lance Corporal in the army cadets and at the same time got given a few quite responsible tasks. He was commended for his commitment, for his dedication ánd for his ability to stay calm under pressure. Not bad for an Aspie, hey? Plus he got his grading to orange in Hontai, the classical form of Jiu Jitsu and he was asked to help train the youngsters twice a week.
Our youngest (13) took part in the Carlisle Music Festival and managed to win four of the six (singing) classes she took part in and get a second prize in one. Then she had to sing in the finales and won that, singing O Mio Babbino Caro. So she won the trophy for best under 18 vocal performance (which went to Andrew Johnston last year, by the way :)).
As a result we might get an article about home education in the regional newspaper, because she seems to have made quite an impression on the journalist who interviewed her.
Of course there are lots of little and big moments where I know, see and sense that autonomous home education was the best choice for our children. And I certainly do not measure the success of our home education by the prizes my children win or the qualifications they earn. But it's definitely good to see how capable they are to carry themselves in this world without losing one little bit of their unique selves.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Although it said in the DCSF press release that the review "will assess the effectiveness of current arrangements for parents who home educate and of local authority systems for supporting children and families" it is obvious from all that is happening now that not the quality or the functioning of the local authorities is under scrutiny, but much more the whole concept of home education itself. That's weird, to say the least, because there is ample evidence of failures of local authorities - with sometimes disastrous consequences - but none concerning home education as such. Therefore I have drafted a letter to Baroness Morgan and I am still gathering relevant evidence to convince her of the fact that local authorities and other agencies involved in education and child welfare are - often - ignorant of existing law and guidance in regard to education outside the school system.
Please feel free to leave more such evidence in my comment box.
Dear Baroness Morgan,
As an elective home educator I am well aware of the weight your words carry when you choose to express your concerns about matters related to education and children's welfare.
As a responsible, caring and most of all loving parent I share your ambition to do everything possible to prevent and fight child abuse in any form. Children, I think, are entitled to a well balanced upbringing in a stable and loving environment. If I have any reason to believe children are denied this chance I will do everything possible within the law to intervene.
As a law abiding citizen of this country I feel it my duty to inform you that the information on which you commissioned the current review of home education is not only inaccurate, but could also lead to damage and/or disruption of young people's lives.
Apparently the information you were given led you to believe that "home education could be used as a ‘cover’ for child abuse such as neglect, forced marriage, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude".
Based a.o. on your first press release on this matter it appears that no distinction is being made between 'children missing education' and 'children in home education'. There is a distinctive difference between the two. In the first case children are not going to school and are not receiving any other form of education, while in the second case parents have chosen to provide their children with an education suitable to their age, aptitude and ability and to any special educational needs the child(ren) may have.
I put it to you that the existing legislation and guidance on elective home education is sufficient, but that local authorities and other agencies dealing with education and welfare have insufficient knowledge of it, and are therefore not capable of applying it in an efficient way. That to me is a concern and I genuinely feel the wellbeing of children in general and of those in home education in particular would be better served with a review into the competence and functioning of said local authorities and other agencies. Their incorrect interpretation of law and guidance, together with an insufficient and/or incorrect understanding of home education, not only causes unnecessary grief and damage to home educators, but also leads said authorities to - unnecessarily - feel inadequate and/or incompetent in cases where there might be reasons for concerns.
Rather than using assumptions and suspicions I can support my statement with ample evidence of cases where local authorities and other agencies display ignorance of existing legislation and guidance, as well as of the workings of education other than through the school system.
Furthermore, I could provide you with a list of people with ample knowledge and experience of home education and related legislation, who could efficiently and effectively conduct a review into this matter, supply you with both a relevant report and suggestions for improvement, as well as suitable training/education for LA's and other agencies working in this field.
I trust that after reading this letter and looking at the attached evidence you will share my concerns and take appropriate measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all children.
In a next post I will list all the links I'm sending the Baroness. Up to now I have:
In this post on Carlotta's blog you'll find the Dorset LA response to the 60 questions they were asked to answer. From the frustrated tone of their answer it is quite obvious they are yet again confusing welfare issues with educational ones.
After a - very brief - item on BBC's Radio 4 programme PM a very lengthy and similarly interesting and informative discussion came to life on the PM Blog. Very significant was comment no. 74 by someone who presented himself as a 'Children Missing Education Officer in the North of England'. The answers to his comment speak for themselves.
Another LA response to the questionnaire that caught the attention because of the apparent lack of knowledge was this one from Birmingham LA. One home educator from that area contacted 'her' EWO about the contents of this response and he knew nothing about it, apparently. It makes me wonder how much the person filling in the questionnaire actually knew about the day-to-day reality of the situation 'on the ground'.
In Lancashire this press release brought to light that Lancashire County Council were under the false impression that they could make local agreements about visits and providing of examples of work with some home educators about all home educators. And of course they, too, showed they were not informed about their legal rights and limitations.
With regard to the ongoing review a shocking case of ignorance and uninformed partiality was displayed by NSPCC spokesperson Mr Vijay Patel in the Independent when he implied a connection between the death of Victoria Climbié and home education. Even though DCSF and Mr Graham Badman have now said they know there is no such connection, the NSPCC has not yet officially apologized and is still involved in the so-called independent review of home education.
Friday, March 06, 2009
From EO's Spokesperson:
I have permission to quote this statement that I have just received from Graham Badman's office, after I sent over details of the references made in the Independent article by Vijay Patel about Victoria and home education and after I gave them the link to the statement made by the Victoria Climbie Foundation:
"The DCSF, and Graham, know that there is no link whatsoever between the tragic death of Victoria Climbie and home education"
This statement was made to me officially today in an email written by Elizabeth Green who is working for Graham Badman during the Independent Review of Home Education.
I read it. On one of the home ed blogs.
But I didn't read it in - for instance - the Independent. And as far as I'm aware there wasn't a national press release or any other attempt to make the general public aware of the fact that Mr Patel had misinformed them.
I am eagerly awaiting what DCSF and Graham are going to do after more or less acknowledging that they're aware of the biased views of NSPCC, represented by Mr Patel. After all, we are being told this is an "independent review".
For that matter, what is NSPCC going to do? They still haven't made a full public apology for their damaging comment, they haven't sacked Mr Patel, they haven't withdrawn from their involvement with the review.
How on earth can I even try and achieve the five outcomes of ECM for my children when the Powers That Be are doing their utmost to make it impossible!? Not only by threatening to disrupt, interfere with and intrude into our personal life and development, but also by having that done by people who not only have no knowledge of autonomous education in the first place but on top of that have not even been CRB checked!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
After summing up the aims of the Elective Home Education Review the press note again cleverly connects "children missing education" and "home education".
It would have been really easy to construe a sentence with both the popular phrase "right to balanced education" and "home education" in it, but obviously that might have veered the minds of readers in a different direction. It's all about suggestion. Very clever.
And it works, as you can see in this scary example of misinformation (Thanks, Debs!).
The press note ends quoting Graham Badman, who will be leading the review. At this moment I'll give Mr Badman the benefit of the doubt. I've read quite a bit about the work he is and has been involved with, but I do not know enough about these cases to have an opinion about the quality of Mr Badman's work. I know enough of the workings of the media not to form an opinion based on the so-called 'public opinion'. To me Mr Badman is a kind of a judge in a court of justice, and without profound knowledge of the cases concerned, I couldn't possibly form an opinion about the quality of his work, purely based on his verdicts.
Mr Badman, too, acknowledges the right of parents to choose to home educate, and he promises to "discuss all the issues with home educating families, local authorities and other key stakeholders" - who would they be? - "[and] investigate whether the current system adequately supports these rights and responsibilities" - see, that's hopeful, he mentions both rights and responsibilities - "and if not, I will make recommendations for improvements."
So there it is. This to me sounds like an open invitation to elective home educators to provide Mr Badman not only with information about how seriously we take our responsibilities, but also about whether we feel the "current system adequately supports these rights and responsibilities".
The very fact that this review is necessary because (a lot of, not all!) local authorities and other agencies have not enough knowledge and/or understanding of the existing legislation and guidance to adequately remove the bee from the Baroness' bonnet should lead to a recommendation for improvement of the training and work methods of local authorities and agencies.
I know I am lucky to live in Cumbria, where we have some excellent LA people, who are positively supportive of EHE and who make an effort to communicate with our representatives. I have only had brief dealings with them when I was having problems trying to get my eldest into mainstream education - LOL to the irony of that! - and thanks to the interference of the - then - LEA my daughter got the place she wanted. I know many examples of positive cooperation between home educators and LA's in this county. It is possible. And all within the existing law and guidance.
The Editor's Notes of the press release again indicate that there is no intention to provide well-balanced information. There is no mention of Section 7 of the Education Act 1996. There is no mention of the organisations representing home educators in this country. And of course there is no mention of conclusive evidence or even probable grounds for the vile accusations about child abuse.
Of course not. Because there aren't any.