It's not long now, folks. That moment that we "unknowns" have been dreading, that hollow knock on the door from someone we've never met before asking to come in immediately, that chilling phone call from a complete stranger which doesn't pan out into something pleasant like "Your books are ready to collect", that letter with the fateful words, "we understand your child does not have a school placement", well it should happen any minute now.
Indefatigable EO volunteer and level-head, Phil Hicks reports that the DfES has instituted a non statutory December deadline for LEAs to "have systematic arrangements in place (by December 2005) for identifying children missing from education so that provision can be made for them, drawing on the non-statutory guidance ".
So we should just get over it, and OK we will do our best to do this. But for those of us whose children are heavily invested in home education and who would just hate to go to school, it can put you on edge. Instead of the holding in mind the nice, honest question "how can I genuinely improve the learning environment for my child", lurking all the while at the back of one's mind is also the question "how can I make the learning environment 'seem' efficient to someone who doesn't necessarily understand home education, let alone autonomous home education, and yet who has the power of judgement over my intimate family life and the power to infringe our choices?" Not a good question, because it distracts from the first one, which is a good question and it may mean that you end up doing the wrong thing, such as sitting down with a much hated and therefore useless workbook.
I shall do my best to prevent this from happening and I will also do my best to give the ptb short shrift, but the knowledge of their potential for misunderstanding and bullying and interference in what should be private family life, errgh, frankly on a personal level, our family would do much better without it.
On a general level, I suspect all this information gathering is a disproportionate measure. It will generate masses of data at huge cost for very, very little gain. The problem for Victoria Climbie was not that she was not known about, nor that there was a shortage of information on her case. Her problem was a lack of experienced social workers.
And very seriously for the future of autonomous Home Education, we worry for new home educators who may find that the usual progression from structure and teacher-led learning to increasingly following the lead of the learner will be less spontaneous, given that they know that they will inevitably be checked over by schoolie types educrats.