A group of us HE parents met last night with a representative from the local Children Information Service in order that the ptb may be seen to have consulted with us when they come to implement the "Every Child Matters" agenda. I don't think any of us had any illusions. We understood that this consultation process is all window-dressing, but we will most certainly revel in it once they get their universal database up and running and we can expose this self-described caring, listening government for the fraudulent big brother that it really is.
So we did explain ourselves as clearly and as pointedly as we possibly could. The poor intermediary couldn't fail to get the various messages we put over, which were in summary:
*that if there is no reason to suppose that abuse or neglect of children is going on, then don't interfere, unless we explicitly ask for your help. Don't spend any time faffing around with functioning families because you will not only be fouling up on one of your goals, ie: ensuring enjoyment for kids, (since the stress caused by your interference will almost certainly be felt by them too), but you will also be wasting precious resources which would be far better spent helping children in real trouble.
*that there is a vast difference between bailing children out of terrible difficulty and "helping children enjoy life". The state possibly has a role in the former activity but very, very little to do with the latter. Deeming the state responsible for checking up on all these areas of our lives, via the database and the common assessment framework, is a direct route to Big Brotherdom.
*that there be greater forethought given to the type of services on offer. Various examples of failed services were raised...eg: the nursery system for young children, the Sure Start operation, the provision offered to disaffected teenagers.
*that home educators do not want to have to conform to government normative standards when it comes to education, socialisation, and achievement. Examples were provided as to how HE children learn and succeed. The differences were highlighted.
*that home educators generally be regarded with less suspicion and that professionals fully acknowledge that home education is equal in statute with an education provided through school.
*that information about home education be provided by various agencies to parents and children.
*that we may need help with finding examination centres for public exams, since this has proved difficult in the past.
So there it is on record. If they don't listen, and my guess is that they won't, we will be holding them to account as failed public servants.
All we really want is that Home Education, this last bastion of real freedom for families, does not disappear before our eyes, like the little diminishing dot on an old-fangled telly. Exposing the practices and manipulations of the state against innocent families who have put their case very clearly may be one way to keep the light on.