For to be free is not to merely cast off one's chains,
but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
- Nelson Mandela -

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Here's the evidence: There is no evidence!

Thanks, Ann N, for pointing me towards chapter 8.14, where Mr Badman admits - albeit in a roundabout way:

"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!


Jax said...

I feel a follow up letter to my MP coming on.

There *must* be someone we can complain to? Surely? Or are governments completely without any external control in terms of commissioning a report and steamrolling straight into legislation?

Wonder if Lord Lucas would have any suggestions?

Georgie said...

It's kinda quaint that people think there *must* be some redress, some way to get justice, some way to be heard. Welcome to the real world folks. Their power, like their contempt for you, is total.
Take that on board first, let it soak through your skin and into your bones and then, only then, will you stop thinking that what you need is someone to exercise power on your behalf and you'll realise what you need is your own power. The Govt supposedly work for you. You must sack them. They supposedly represent you. Let them know that they do not. They supposedly govern by consent. Withdraw your consent.

Mieke said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Georgie. So what would be the first step now, according to you? One that would make an introduction of Badman's Recommendations as law impossible?

Jax said...

Georgie, I'm doing lots of the things that you talk about, but if there is an official route of complaint I'd like to use that too.

Kind of a belt and braces approach. Is that OK?

Chris said...

I can't help but see parallels here with the government ban on hunting. The government has once again found a minority group that they want to persecute under a populist agenda with no particular justification.

Were you against the hunting ban? Did you think "I'm don't like the idea of the government stomping on these people's rights, but I don't support hunting much either, so I don't really care"?

Is this what people think about us?

And if those people with their wealth, power and influence couldn't stop the change going through, are we going to have any chance?

Sally said...

Maybe we can use the popularity of the agenda they've tried to manipulate us with against them?
It is very obvious that their action is going to threaten child protection. We need someone like the Victoria Climbie foundation UK to team up with us to prevent this ridiculous waste of resources ... which seems to me to be intended to create a smoke screen for their current incompetence by pretending that children are 'hidden' and thus falling through their net. None of the children linked with this review by the media were hidden!
I'm sure it is part of a larger agenda really.

We need organizations effected by this potential legislation to team up. Not everyone can be threatened with "What have you got to hide then?" in Kafka-esque style. It's a different kind of strength in numbers.

We somehow need to remove the isolation we are suffering from. We have no support from newspapers. What about other organizations who's agendas will be impacted?

Mieke said...

Chris: I fail to see the parallel with the hunting ban, I'm afraid.

Sally: Yes, I agree about needing to remove the isolation we suffer in the public opinion, which wasn't helped by Badman's (and others') suggestion that home educators are a divided and unorganised (but militant) lot. I know other people have been scanning the news for other parties who are, or are going to be impacted. Mind, the govt is using very strong 'divide and rule' tactics, so it will take careful and respectful lobbying to establish a workable relationship with others, imo. But I do agree it would be useful.

Elaine: The quote you mention is the one from Ed Balls' letter to the House of Commons. The quote in this post is from Badman's report (8.14) and it says he has not found any evidence...
So either Ed Balls' can't read, doesn't understand English, or is deliberately mis-quoting the report.

Chris said...

>Mieke: I fail to see the parallel
>with the hunting ban, I'm afraid.

I see many.

Like HE, hunting was a long-established freedom in this country practised by a minority to whom it was an important way of life.

Similarly, the public were either ambivalent to it ("a lot of toffs wasting their time") or hostile to it ("cruel to animals"). I can remember feeling this way - I wasn't ever in favour of hunting but I felt a distinct spike of unease at what the government was doing, and how other freedoms that I *did* care about might one day be removed in a similar way.

And once again the government's real agenda (to upset the Conservatives) differed from their published, populist agenda (to prevent cruelty to animals).

And they pushed the legislation through despite massive opposition from those affected, and ambivalence from almost everyone else.

I think that the same will happen with the Badman review. The government are worried that we are breeding a generation of independent thinkers who won't want to toe the nursery-->school-->university-->office-->pension line and want to knock it on the head before it gets out of control. They have found a populist cause "dreadful child abusers...". The public either don't care or are hostile to us (as evidenced by Carol Sarler's dreadful piece in the Mail, and the equally bad article in the TES).

And I think that we will be able to use the hunting example to predict what will happen. They *will* push the bill through regardless of any rational explanation against it.

I also think that they will use divide and conquer here too. In return for ditching the parts of the bill that would contravene our human rights and so probably never get through parliament (eg unaccompanied interviews), they will persuade many HE families that what they are getting is better than what might have been so they will drop their opposition. And the LEAs will have exactly what they always wanted. A full register of all HE families and a future pathway to force them into the National Curriculum.

Mieke said...

Chris: Thanks for coming back and (patiently and clearly) explaining that :). I suppose I'm one of those who was didn't see the hidden agenda behind the hunting ban. That's a grim picture you paint, because as you say, there were quite a few influential big shots in favour of hunting and they weren't able to stop the ban...
I do think that in spite of what B&B&B and the media are doing, they haven't yet managed to establish the image of home edders as child abusers. At least most people I know don't buy it. And I still think we should do what we can to turn the tables on them. What we have in our favour at the moment is, strangely, the credit crunch, the expenses scandal and Brown's ridiculous attempt to get a fully unelected cabinet in power. Maybe we should play on that a bit more...

liz said...

Actually I can se a lot more parallels between foxes and home educators than hunters and home educators, but I won't be pursuing that (pardon the pun) here as I don't want to detract from the excellent points you and Sally have made.
The trouble is, I think, that a lot of people think we *do* need monitoring and inspecting (maybe they thing we're getting away with something?) and a lot of people think children need controlling too. I'm not sure, from the comments I've read from Joe and Jill Public, that we have much hope of convincing 'the mainstream' that they should listen to what we have to say about our and our children's freedom. I do think Sally has a point though about getting other potential victims of this 'trial-by-media' culture on board. You only have to read comments at the bottom of breastfeeding articles in the press to know that they are as oppressed a minority, despite evidence about the health benefits for mothers and babies. There are a lot of parents who are coming round to the idea that a more attached kind of parenting is desirable and while they may not have taken home educating on board (yet) they are not so hostile to it as more 'authoritarian' parents. What I'm saying is that I think there is an audience out there (attachment parents, breastfeeding families, stay at home mums) who can be reached through various forums and who will relate to the feeling of being 'got at'. How we do it is another matter. I'll see if I can raise it on one of the forums (fora?) that I'm on (I want my mum). Maybe others can think of other places to raise these concerns in an 'if you tolerate this then *your* children will be next' kind of way.

Mieke said...

Hi Liz! Yes, my initial response to Chris' comment was similar to yours, I must admit. But then I read it again, we talked about it here at home and certainly after his further explanation I could see where he was coming from. Firstly, it's about the govt expertly playing us, using the emotive argument of cruelty against animals, and secondly, all these people in high places, with lots of money and influence, couldn't stop the ban.

Raising awareness, that's what my next post is going to be about. And I think we should aim both at other minority groups, but certainly at loving parents in general, too. Because I am convinced that the majority of parents really, genuinely love their children. Home educators do not have the monopoly of that, and I think a first step towards mutual understanding would be to acknowledge that.

Chris said...

> That's a grim picture you paint.

Indeed. And although I dearly hope I'm wrong, I believe that no response that we make, however rational, well-argued and well-supported will make them change their minds.

I think that our best chance of keeping the status quo comes on two fronts.

1. Getting the Conservatives on our side. At present they have yet to make a commitment. They are coming out with plenty of platitudes - "fully support our rights to home educate" etc etc, but I haven't seen any firm commitments from them *not* to take this review any further. We should be concentrating our fire on the Conservative party, and aiming to extract that commitment from them in the knowledge that it would earn them the votes of a large number of people who probably didn't vote for them before.

2. Working on delaying tactics. If the government can push the changes through before the next election then they will do so because they are vindictive. Once done it is highly unlikely that even a Conservative government will repeal them as it would waste parliamentary time that they'd committed to "more pressing" matters. So we should take a long hard look at the process. Was it legal? Was it completely legal? Is there a challenge in the European courts? Is there something that Badman did that makes the review legally invalid? Anything else we can do to delay the process?

Yes, it sounds like guerilla warfare - but you have to remember that they will not play fair. Even in cut-and-dried cases with *massive* public support like the Gurhkas, the effort required to change their minds was immense.

Mieke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mieke said...

Hi Chris,

(How do you get italic and bold into your comments? I haven't yet been able to figure that out?!)

Are you on any of the national lists? Because there are quite a few threads going on where suggestions like your are being discussed. Because of my limited online time I'm finding it difficult to keep with it all, but I'm trying to at least follow the AHEd one, if only because they attempt to put words into constructive action, which is - imo - what we need.

Re yr 1: One of the threads on AHEd was: Hug a Tory :). I agree with you that up to now they haven't come up with anything other than rhetoric and platitudes, and when they say they support our right to home educate, they're saying exactly the same as Baroness Morgan and B&B. What they should be saying is: "We think that current legislation and guidance wrt home education is sufficient and we support your demand that LAs respect it and learn how to work with it." In exchange for that commitment I - and I'm sure many other home educators and their families and networks - would offer my vote.

Re yr 2: Again, I totally agree, and I've voiced that in several places. If this govt manages to get this legislation in before they're voted out, then I'm quite sure the Tories (if they're voted in) wouldn't put any effort into changing it back. Not only because of the costs involved, but also because I cannot see them giving that power away, as they're already voted in and apparently didn't need our support to get there, iykwim.

I know that AHEd is chasing up the legality of the review and the validity of the report, and I think the more people actively support AHEd is doing so, the better.

I've been breaking my head about a way to get media attention without digging a hole for ourselves, but I'm afraid the media culture in this country is completely and utterly different from the one I grew up with, and I haven't been able to get to grips with it, yet...

Mieke said...

pffff... I'm not going to delete an other of my comments, I'll just apologize here for any/all typo's and other mistakes and appeal to the readers' tolerance of my English... ;)

chrisotherwise said...

<b>this is bold</b>
<i>this is italic</i>

Yes, I am on lots of lists. Too many really. And therein lies another problem. We are many and disparate and don't speak with a single voice. I always thought that EO would be our champion, but that organisation doesn't seem to know its top from its bottom.

Jemmo said...

You say:

"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..."

Sorry.... that's actually not at all what it says...

It actually says: "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."

...a factor in the removal of children to...

Nothing to do with children staying at home with their parents being quietly abused.

Sorry. :(

Mieke said...

EO - imo - has come to the point that many organisations that start off as voluntary / charitable come to, when they're getting big and successful. Their idealistic drive gets worn out and people who've put their life and soul into it, start feeling it's about time they should be getting something back for it. Satisfaction with positive results and their own input is not enough anymore. Where in actual fact that's the moment they should decide to step out or step back and leave it to other, newly motivated, people.
I do not feel supported and certainly not represented by EO.
I do not agree that 'speaking with one voice' is the only way to be effectively heard. I do think, however, that it is wise to share information amongst each other, and to try and together determine an effective timing.
As I strongly believe that most home educators are strong willed and utterly motivated people, who have already proven to go the extra mile for their families, it will have an impact if we all make ourselves heard individually. And there is enough help and support available for people (like me) who are not sure they are in possession of the correct written vocabulary to engage with the ptb ;).

And thank you for your instructions!

Mieke said...

Jem: No need to apologize, although I agree with the :(.
I'm glad your reading is more accurate than mine, I see now where I went wrong. And he did succeed in confusing me, and probably a few others.
But I agree, it doesn't fully counter the accusations, to it's back to scrutinizing the report...

Jemmo said...

The confusing language used is undoubtedly intentional.

Mieke said...

Yeah, most likely. But I am (more than slightly) angry with myself for falling for it. And effectively doing what I accuse him of doing - drawing conclusions too fast and careless :(.
I need to balance my frustration with patience, my eagerness to hang them with an effort to do it properly.

Jax said...

I think that particular paragraph can be interpreted multiple ways tbh, and I don't think it's at all clear whether it is only referring to children removed for or not.

But there is nowhere else in the report where any real evidence is found, there is brief mention of a small number of serious case reviews but no detail around them either. I can only assume that is because the detail would not help the government cause.

Jemmo said...

The whole house of cards seems to be based on this faulty logic that because proportionally more EHE families are 'known' to SS than non-EHE, there must be more cause for concern.

Apart from the rebuttals that a) a higher proportion of EHE kids have SEN and so will be 'known', and b) the malicious/worried neighbour or LA officer syndrome, there is the thought that this review was set up because LAs were complaining that HE kids were not known to them! Another case of damned whichever way you go, as if we'd been proportionally less known, that would undoubtedly have been seen as a problem too!

clare murton said...

Jemmo said
"Sorry.... that's actually not at all what it says...

It actually says: "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."

...a factor in the removal of children to...

Nothing to do with children staying at home with their parents being quietly abused.

Sorry. :("

I actually wondered if Badman meant removal of children from school to home education?

He then uses bad grammar to try and clutch at some kind of abuse straw - "That is not to say that there is no isolated cases of trafficking that have been brought to my attention." - so if he has some evidence of trafficked HE children why isn't he waving it at us with joy - perhaps because it is not a school age person, or it started and was noted before the child was HE or some other reason that separates it from HE?? Who knows - but this passage is clearly written begrudgingly and with intent to fudge!

Mieke said...

"I actually wondered if Badman meant removal of children from school to home education?"

Clare, that's what I thought, initially. And actually there is no reason to think that that is not what he meant. Only, we can't be sure...
As you say, if he did have even the slightest bit of evidence he would immediately and exuberantly use it to incriminate EHErs.

But his style of writing is appalling. I translate books from English into Dutch and if ever my publisher would ask me to translate anything written by GB I think I'd switch to Chinese - and have more chance of understanding them.

Mieke said...

not them... that.

Anonymous said...

"With regards to other specific groups within the remit of this inquiry..."

What does he mean by "other specific groups"? What groups is he writing about prior to this statement?

Mieke said...

Anon, as with most of that paragraph (and the rest of the Report, for that matter), that is totally unclear. The only group within the remit of this inquiry is, afaik, Elective Home Educators.

Evan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.