Saturday, July 14, 2007

242

That is nearly 100 responses in 5 days. Fantastic....can we keep the momentum going?

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

One of the teenahers staying here has just sent in her response and got a reply giving her responser number 244.

I'll keep suggesting respoding to other HE teens as well as my own.
;o)

Mike said...

Is there not a danger that in responding to the consultation you are giving tacit acceptance of the result?

Would it not show the government how strongly the home education community feels by refusing to even get involved in the debate?

Home educators already have rights, limited though they are. All this consultation will do is erode these rights still further.

Do you believe that the government will exert less control purely because they have been won over by the argument of home educators?

Do you think they will leave things unchanged?

No, this is purely an exercise in subterfuge. However many of us respond will make no difference. the government have an agenda and they fully intend to follow it through. They will use the level of response to show 'broad support' amongst home educators for a change in the law.

Eventually it will be shown that appeasement encouraged the government to become bolder and extend the law even further than they intend to now.

I feel the battle will be nigh on impossible to win as the general public no longer believe that the parent / child relationship is as safe as the state / child relationship and that parents can not be trusted to bring up their own children. However, to lose it without even fighting or by falling into this trap of 'consultation' would be a shame indeed.

Stop being so reasonable everyone and start being a total pain in the ass to LAs and the government. Show them that if they take on the HE community they may win but they will know they have been in a fight. You never know, they might just get scared off.

At the moment, this is all far too easy for them.

Come on Carlotta: "Don't tread on me"

33, 452 said...

Mike,

"Is there not a danger that in responding to the consultation you are giving tacit acceptance of the result?"

Quite the reverse; it is *not* responding that would be giving tacit acceptance to the proposed guidelines.

"Would it not show the government how strongly the home education community feels by refusing to even get involved in the debate?"

No, it would be playing right into their hands.

According to your profile, Mike, you live in Florida, is this info current? These guidelines are for English LAs, and I'm wondering if you, perhaps, don't fully understand the situation here?

The guidelines should protect our rights as they stand under current law, and clarify them to local authorities (many of whom currently ignore the law).

If we don't respond, then the laws that currently work *in our favour* could change. We are insisting that the laws remain as they are, not negotiating changes. As it stands, this is not about *changing* the laws; on the contary, it is about clarifying and *preserving* them.

We would make the government very happy indeed if we didn't respond. They would then be free to interpret the law inaccurately, as no one would step forward to point out that they were doing so!

No one is appeasing the government by writing to tell them "Oh no, no, no, no, no! You don't mess with *us*!" ;)

Responding to the consultation is anything but "making this easy on them"!

Gill said...

I must admit, Mike's just eloquently voiced my gut feelings on this whole situation :-/

Also, maybe he has knowledge or experience of 'further down this line' from the States?

Mike said...

I am English 33,452 and when I first started HEing I was on your side of the debate. After doing it for 5 years though, I can see how right the people I disagreed with were/are.

I feel that whatever you do the outcome will be the same and it will divide home educators into two groups, those in the state sanctioned camp and those outside it.

I know I will be outside it and that is a big part (Although not all)of the reason I am in Florida.

33, 452 said...

(Was just replying to Gill's comment, when Mike's came in, so this is a general reply now! :))

If the PTB want guidelines, then the PTB are going to *get* guidelines, whether we respond or not.

I live in Scotland, which is a closer comparison than the USA. Here we already have such guidelines and I'm really grateful for them - they are a weapon in *our* hands. They are something we have to hold over the authorities and beat them with.

Change is still slow up here; even *with* the guidelines, many LAs are still acting way beyond their legal remit, but *without* the guidelines the situation would probably be a whole lot worse.

I would be one of the first to protest at any proposed change to HE law, but that is not what this is. This is a desperately needed clarification of laws that LAs currently misread to their own advantage. If we play this right, we will be able to wave these guidelines at heavy handed LAs and say "Yoo-hoo, you can't do that! It says so right here!" which saves the trouble of having to explain the laws to them ourselves and have them refuse to believe that the laws mean what we know they do.

But, even for those *not* in favour of the guidelines, I think it makes sense to return the form with a simple comment at the end stating that they oppose the introduction of this document.

The way I see it, we are *all* in the "state sanctioned" camp. Because the legal situation is that parents have primary responsibility for their children's education, HE, itself, *is* state sanctioned.

33, 452 said...

Just to clarify for anyone who missed this in earlier threads - I'm English, currently living in Scotland, but intending to return to England by early 2008.

33, 452 said...

Thinking some more...

I was defending my choice to respond then, which, on reflection, was probably a mistake.

I think, basically, we should each do what we feel is right. No one has to defend their personal choices to either respond or not respond - it's up to each of us individually what we wish to do.

We're not a collective community here; we're just a bunch of people with one thing in common. While it is a fact that the actions of each of us may reflect upon the rest, it is also true that we are never going to reach a consensus of opinion, and, would we even want to? Many of us HE precisely because we don't wish to be tied by social norms, so let's not create our own here.

To me, it makes sense to respond, but, having said that, I don't see any reason why anyone should feel obliged to.

Let those who wish to speak, speak, and those who wish to remain silent, remain silent.

The only other thing that I really wish to say is to reitterate that I honestly admire and respect the work and effort that Carlotta is putting in here - I think it's truly impressive! :)

Mike said...

33452

You said:

I live in Scotland, which is a closer comparison than the USA.

Scotland like the USA? Interesting but as each state has it's own rules not really accurate to any degree.

Here we already have such guidelines and I'm really grateful for them - they are a weapon in *our* hands. They are something we have to hold over the authorities and beat them with.

We already have a weapon, it is called the law. It already exists and is more than likely less stringent than these new guidelines will be. As guidelines tend to get drafted into law this weapon will become weaker if we allow the existing law to be changed.

Change is still slow up here; even *with* the guidelines, many LAs are still acting way beyond their legal remit, but *without* the guidelines the situation would probably be a whole lot worse.

So despite the guidelines in Scotland LAs are abusing their power. Why would you assume this would be worse without guidelines?

I would be one of the first to protest at any proposed change to HE law, but that is not what this is. This is a desperately needed clarification of laws that LAs currently misread to their own advantage. If we play this right, we will be able to wave these guidelines at heavy handed LAs and say "Yoo-hoo, you can't do that! It says so right here!" which saves the trouble of having to explain the laws to them ourselves and have them refuse to believe that the laws mean what we know they do.

If they ignore the law of the land why do you think they won't ignore their guidelines? Why don't you just wave the law in their face?

The way I see it, we are *all* in the "state sanctioned" camp. Because the legal situation is that parents have primary responsibility for their children's education, HE, itself, *is* state sanctioned.

Yes, the majority of us are now in the state sanctioned camp but if these guidelines are stricter and eventually replace the law (Which I believe they will.) many of us will no longer be.

I too admire Carlotta's efforts in getting these responses in but I would question the efficacy of the effort.

I would also say that I am a long way away and the people making this effort are people I have known and whose judgment I respect. The fact that Carlotta is one of them makes me question my own cynicism all the more as she would be one of the last people I would expect to get involved in this kind of negotiation.

I hope you are right but my feeling is you are wrong. At the end of the day though I don't think it will make much difference to the final outcome.

Carlotta said...

Hi Mike and Gill,

You'd be right to guess that there has been a considerable amount of soul-searching on the issue of whether or not to respond to this consultation.

My first reaction remains that it is simply ridiculous that one's very basic freedoms are threatened in the way they currently are ie: that the responsibility for parenting is very possibly about to be appropriated by the state. (If the state takes away the freedom to educate in the way parents see fit, it will undermine the principle of parental responsibility and the state must accept that it acts in loco parentis, ie: changes to HE law obviously have a huge and wide significance).

I therefore start by feeling that the state so clearly shouldn't be threatening to do this, that it absurd to have to be asked to respond.

More reasonably, it is actually pointless to respond because the DCSF will have been advised that to alter the law in any way which is appropriates responsibility for children to the state will be catastrophic for them.

However, I am now persuaded, as a result of quite a number of headache-filled arguments about this, and through reading the FOI request results, and through thinking it possible to play the system of checks and balances against itself, (ie: via the Better Regulation Executive, who did for the consultation that excluded Greenpeace...err) that it is worth responding simply so as to let them know that we know that a shift in responsibility for children is a very reasonable consequence of the state choosing to change guidance and the law over HE.

I also do believe that if they think that they can slip some changes by us, under pressure from the LAs, they really will do so, just as they did in Scotland where consent to deregister must be sought and a child has a right in Scottish (not just EU) law to an education, which apparently sets up the state for a fall, but no parent has yet tested that principle, though Lord Adonis is worried that someone will.

Also, I think that it could be a matter of very clever strategic planning by the DCFS: they produce guidelines that actually look extremely sympathetic to the principle of parental responsibility for education, we all sit back with a sigh of relief whilst the LAs respond in outraged fashion, as we know that many of them are doing, demanding any number of infringements of parental rights, not just in the field of education but for measures that would effectively appropriate responsibility for the whole of a child's life. The DCSF will look all wide-eyed and innocent as they introduce all manner of terrible changes, all the while saying, "well hey, we had to listen to the consultation responses".

If we haven't made it clear that we understand that the state will create problems for itself with issues of acting in loco parentis, and with creating duties, etc, my guess is that they will try to slip it by us.

Also if we have a good number of responses, and they take not the blindest bit of notice of them, we go into check and balances mode, and play their system against itself. It could be done.

Because the strongest argument against change is over issues of responsibility (as well as cost), I have lately suggested that people respond not to the guidelines as they stand, but to the responses that we know that antagonistic LAs are putting in. We must demonstrate that we know that there is a problem for the state. Lord Adonis was well aware of this problem and I think informed the DfES of this issue, but we have to make sure that this new bunch know as well.

re: trying to slip stuff by us...they did this before with the previous consultation which essentially fed into this one. I therefore feel we have actually very little to lose by responding.

Do tell me where my thinking appears unsound. Have spent last few days talking to many peeps who broadly think that there will be no threat to our freedoms at all and that we needn't respond for that reason, so their arguments were different again, but I still feel that a very real threat does remain, (as a result of LA demands, the Children Act etc) and that their arguments were not very well informed.

I don't really fear a fissure in the HE community, since I think we are aware of the real enemy, and are also well aware of the tentative nature of the decision that we take. We accept that it is very difficult to predict the outcome of our actions, whatever we do.

Ergh, must try and concentrate on the enormous Jenga tower toppling precariously immediately to my left....

Tech said...

I largely agree with Mike, missed you Peachy, good to see you back ;-)

I will however be responding to this consult, and in strong terms. I'm not under any illusions though, I'm convinced it's just a paper exercise and that the *real* consult will be along shortly after this one has finished. That they will be pushing for the powers they've always wanted, and that they will probably get them, but that they will be cleverly worded to avoid the possibility of litigation in the case of a child's *failure*.

I think anyone who thinks the guidelines (if they ever get written, remember we were waiting 2 years for the guidelines that were *consulted* on in 2005, and they didn't materialise, this sham did instead...)are going to be helpful is being extremely naive. As Mike says, we have the law, they flout that, the guidelines will not be statutory, so the bad LAs will just laugh in the face of them, the good ones might take some notice, but only where it suits them to do so.

For me, responding to the guidelines is about marking out the battle lines. The FOI showed without doubt what the humphries' real agenda is, I think we need to constantly have those documents in mind, and not get sucked into complacency by these apparently *good* guidelines. There are a sop.

33, 452 said...

Mike,

"Scotland like the USA? Interesting but as each state has it's own rules not really accurate to any degree."

No. I said Scotland is more like England than the USA is.

"We already have a weapon, it is called the law. It already exists and is more than likely less stringent than these new guidelines will be. As guidelines tend to get drafted into law this weapon will become weaker if we allow the existing law to be changed."

The guidelines are *not* going to change the law - I thought I already explained this?

"So despite the guidelines in Scotland LAs are abusing their power. Why would you assume this would be worse without guidelines?"

Because it *was*. The situation improved a great deal after the introduction of the guidelines.

"If they ignore the law of the land why do you think they won't ignore their guidelines? Why don't you just wave the law in their face?"

The guidelines will enable us to wave the law in their faces. They don't ignore the law, they willfully misinterpret it. The guidelines will give an "official" interpretation that they can't ignore.

"If they ignore the law of the land why do you think they won't ignore their guidelines? Why don't you just wave the law in their face?"

They are *not* stricter. They are *not* changing the law.

"I too admire Carlotta's efforts in getting these responses in..."

Good! About time someone showed some appreciation!

"...but I would question the efficacy of the effort."

Have you actually read the guidelines, Mike?

"I would also say that I am a long way away and the people making this effort are people I have known and whose judgment I respect. The fact that Carlotta is one of them makes me question my own cynicism all the more as she would be one of the last people I would expect to get involved in this kind of negotiation."

Good. I'm glad to hear that.

I honestly don't think you're fully up-to-speed with what's happening here, which is more than understandable if you're not living in the UK at present.

For one thing, did you realise that LAs are supposed to tell us about the consultation, but most of them *haven't*? Doesn't that suggest that they really *don't* want us to respond?

"I hope you are right but my feeling is you are wrong."

I hope I'm right too; I guess we'll have to see.

"At the end of the day though I don't think it will make much difference to the final outcome."

Then it does no harm to respond.

33, 452 said...

Tech,

"I think anyone who thinks the guidelines (if they ever get written, remember we were waiting 2 years for the guidelines that were *consulted* on in 2005, and they didn't materialise, this sham did instead...)are going to be helpful is being extremely naive."

Well, I can see how helpful they are in Scotland. When LAs try to insist on visits, for example, we will be able to show them clear, unambiguous, passages that say they *cannot* do that. When LAs publish misinformation on their websites, we can show them clearly that they are not adhering to the guidelines and make them change it. When LAs try to tell people they should be working X number of hours, or covering Y subject, we can show them clearly written evidence that *they* are *wrong*.

When my LA published their own guidelines (which were terrible!)and started sending them out to HEers, I sent them a brief letter telling them that their new guidelines did not adhere to those set out by the Scottish Executive and included a copy of these for their information. They immediately recalled their leaflets, and reworded their publications and working practice documents, so that they were in line with the guidelines. Would they have done this if, instead of an official document, I had merely sent them an explantion of how their documents were flouting my interpretation of the law? I think not.

"As Mike says, we have the law, they flout that, the guidelines will not be statutory, so the bad LAs will just laugh in the face of them, the good ones might take some notice, but only where it suits them to do so."

Bad LAs laugh in the face of the law now. When it is clearly explained for them in terms they can understand it will be a damned sight harder for them to do so.

"For me, responding to the guidelines is about marking out the battle lines."

Me too. I imagine the same is true for most of us.

"The FOI showed without doubt what the humphries' real agenda is, I think we need to constantly have those documents in mind, and not get sucked into complacency by these apparently *good* guidelines."

I completely agree. That's why I feel it important to consult and make sure we stop any wording that could be used against us from getting in to the documents.

"There are a sop."

We shall see, I guess.

33, 452 said...

"I also do believe that if they think that they can slip some changes by us, under pressure from the LAs, they really will do so, just as they did in Scotland where consent to deregister must be sought and a child has a right in Scottish (not just EU) law to an education, which apparently sets up the state for a fall, but no parent has yet tested that principle, though Lord Adonis is worried that someone will."

Before anyone says anything, these changes were *not* related to the guidelines. This was already the situation up here *before* guidelines were issued.

LAs used to refuse permission for parents to deregister, or drag their heels for many months, even years. Now, however, we have the guidance which states that they must give the permission within six weeks (I think it's six weeks anyway - anyone else here from Scotland can confirm that?) which is still appalling, of course, but it's a lot better than it was before we had the guidance.

Tech said...

But Adele, if the guidelines are so helpful, why were they recently said to be failing (not exact wording, so don't pick me up on it please ;-) ) in the SCC report?

I'm not sure where you are, but from all I have heard about Scotland and the guidelines, I think your LA is rather unusual in it's actions.

We can wave the guidelines (if we get them) at our LAs for all our worth, but as the consult says, they are not enforceable, and frankly, even if they were, they would not be enforced. We are seeing cases of children not being deregistered on demand, as we said would happen when they brought in that wretched SI, and yet even though the law says they must be, those responsible for not following the law are not being prosecuted.

33, 452 said...

Tech,

I'm well aware that there are still problems in Scotland, and that the guidelines were not a miracle cure for those problems. But they *have* improved things a great deal. They have definitely been a step in the right direction.

Abuses of power by LAs are still happening, but they are happening *less* than they were before we had the guidance.

I'm in Shetland. And I know I got lucky with my LA - they are one that wants to be seen to be following the guidance of the Scottish Executive, not all LAs seem to care. There are many battles still to be fought up here, but the guidelines have, nontheless, improved the situation from what it was.

The original drafts for the Scottish guidance were horrific! The hard work of Scottish HEers and Schoolhouse is responsible for the massive difference between the initial draft guidance and the one that we have now. I dread to think what the situation would be like up here now if HEers hadn't put up such a strong and effective fight. The guidance went from being a document that would further erode our rights, into one that stood up for them.

After seeing this, I am unlikley to be convinced that responding in England is a bad idea.

It's not a question of cheering for the guidelines; it's a case of, the guidelines are coming, whether we like it or not, do we want a say in their content or don't we?

To be honest, I was content to let other people do the talking, (I have a poor attention span, so the prospect of having to commit to even reading such a document, let alone replying to it, horrified me!) but everything written on here did persuade me to respond when I probably wouldn't have done so otherwise.

Replying does not mean we agree that guidelines are a good idea, it just means that we don't want them to be written without our having our say.

The first question is about whether you think guidelines are a good idea or not (if I remember rightly) so anyone who doesn't think that they are, but wants to have their say, can simply tick "no", and give reasons for this if they want, or leave it at that if they don't.

Tech said...

I do remember the Scottish history, and I also remember the politicisation of Scottish HEers, which I think is something we would do well to learn from.

Do you think the English will march on Parliament like the Scots did? Oh no, we have the exclusion zone for protests now don't we - or has Gordon removed that - it's so hard to keep up with which freedoms we still retain in this country *sigh*.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't respond to the consult, although actually I would rather some people most definitely didn't (yep, that's terribly unpc of me) I just think people need to be aware that even if we end up with *good* guidelines, they are not going to be a magic wand. I guess we will have to agree to disagree and wait and see.

33, 452 said...

"I guess we will have to agree to disagree".

Oh... That's going to be difficult because I actually agree completely with your last post! LOL! :)

I don't think they will be a magic wand at all; I guess I'm not being very clear here. My arguments were simply counters to Mike's. Mike was stating that the guidelines were going to change the law to erode our rights and that answering them would effectively agree to this happening. In response to this, I was trying to show that there is another way of viewing it, and that, as the guidelines are coming anyway, it seems more sensible to try to turn them around and make them work *for us* than to keep silent and let them be written to the advantage of *LAs*. Does that make sense?

Tech said...

LOL oh ok then!

I see what you're saying, and it does make sense. I still think though that we are going to have very little impact on what the guidelines say at the end of the day. What we can do with our responses IMO, is to use them to sound warning shots to gov - I think people looking at the questions Gill has come up with will help do that.

I think what Mike may have been getting at when he said that guidelines would change the law (paraphrasing badly, supposed to be on the way out)is the phenomenon of function creep.

33, 452 said...

Tech,

"I still think though that we are going to have very little impact on what the guidelines say at the end of the day."

You may be right there; I hope you're not though. :(

"What we can do with our responses IMO, is to use them to sound warning shots to gov - I think people looking at the questions Gill has come up with will help do that."

Very true, and this is what we should be aiming for.

(Btw, I think Gill's questions are absolutely brilliant and very, very, helpful there!)

"I think what Mike may have been getting at when he said that guidelines would change the law (paraphrasing badly, supposed to be on the way out)is the phenomenon of function creep."

The thing is, *if* we make sure that the guidelines reflect *current* law then, even if they did become legislation at some point, the law would *not* change.

That is why responding is *not* (as Mike suggests) "making it easy for them". That is why responding is *not* allowing a change in law; on the contary, it is fighting to prevent it.

If the guidelines do not accurately reflect current law, yet still make it into legislation at a later date, then we're buggered, basically. So we have to make sure that this does not happen.

Refusing to reply to the consultation would only allow the guidelines to go through as they stand without putting up a fight. The only message it would send to the government is that the LAs desire for reforms is unopposed - we definitely don't want to do that!

I think we're responding with the same broad aims, Tech; what I'm trying to show is that Mike is mistaken to believe that, in responding to the consultation, we are welcoming in new legislation, when what we are actually trying to do is fight it.

I'm trying to explain that we are working to preserve our rights, and that we are *not* negotiating here. Negotiation would be to say "Okay, we'll concede this, if you let us have that" and (I hope) no one here is doing that. What we are doing is saying "This is the law as it stands, and any further documents had better reflect it accurately, or else!"

This is anything but negotiation.

Tech said...

It depends so much on everyone else's responses though doesn't it?
Obviously we're not negotiating, but some HEers do think that, for example, those indicators are a good thing. If their voices outweigh the voices of the HEers who don't think they are a good thing, then it's likely all of us will have to put up with being judged by those standards.

D whatever they're called today, will be able to say "X% of Home Educators agree with these indicators, therefore they are a good thing" once those indicators have become the gold standard of HE Inspection, they become law in effect - they set a precedent.

If there were such a thing as a truly united HE Community (pie in the sky I know ;-) ) then I think we could have abstained from responding and sent the message that these guidelines were not sanctioned by us, and that we would refuse to work with them.

There is no such thing though obviously, and so I think we're into damage limitation and lines in the sand.

I understand what you're saying and I largely agree, but I also think that by responding, we may be setting ourselves up for a big fall because a certain number of people will sanction the guidelines, may even call for stronger monitoring powers, and so those of us who are opposed to increases in power will be, as Mike says, on the other side of the law. Which I think is Mike's point, but no doubt he will come back and correct me if I'm wrong!

Rock and a hard place :(

BTW I do hope I am completely wrong!

33, 452 said...

Hiya Tech,

I don't think that any HEers "on the other side" will respond. I think that, on the whole, people who would want (or even accept) monitoring etc would not reply, as those who trust authorities, tend be happy to leave such things in their hands. I may be wrong there, of course, though I hope that I'm not.

I still very much think that if HEers as a whole had not responded to the guidelines, then this would have been tacit acceptance of them. If we had *all* refused to respond, I believe that they would then have been able to say "These guidelines were unopposed by 100% of home educators", which sounds the same as to say that they were *accepted* by 100% of home educators, doesn't it? Thus, I think that approach would have been very risky.

Ah well, it's all acedemic now anyway, as responses have already been submitted...

As to being on the other side of the law, that isn't going to happen as long as the laws remain the same as they are at present. This is what we have to fight for - to keep the rights that we already have. I think we're pretty much all in agreement on that; we just have different ideas about what is the most effective way of doing this.

Mike said...

Tech

I was just sitting here thinking of all the people I have met who follow a more school like approach to HE and dreading the fact that they would respond to this consultation.

A good proportion of them would welcome more what I would call monitoring but what they would describe as assistance.

In fact some would encourage more involvement from the LA to save those poor autonomously educated kids from their misguided parents.

As 33452 says, the point is moot as the responses are in but I don't think we should kid ourselves that LAs haven't contacted these 'more supportive' parents to get them to respond.

Gill said...

"I was just sitting here thinking of all the people I have met who follow a more school like approach to HE and dreading the fact that they would respond to this consultation."

- exactly my worry, and the reason why I'm not shouting about the consult on our local list, for e.g.

I'm really in 2 minds about that. I wish we knew what proportion of responders would answer which way!

33, 452 said...

*IF* there are going to be more responses from "co-operative" and school-minded home educators than I am expecting there to be, then surely this is all the more reason for *us* to respond ourselves?

The amount of responses so far is just a small percentage of home educators, so even if 50% of respondees were on the side of the LAs (which I very greatly doubt!) then this would still only translate as, what, between 0.5% and 5% of home educators as a whole (depending on which figures you believe about how many of us exist!) so it's not going to give them any credibility on that front.

" wish we knew what proportion of responders would answer which way!"

Me too. I still think that there won't be very many from the pro-LA camps responding, but I suppose it's always best to take a worst case scenario approach to such things.

I would say publicise it only to those who are likely to be "on our side". Readers of your blogs, Carlotta and Gill, and largely going to be the ones we want to respond, whereas local lists are a touch riskier.

Mike said...

33452,

You said:

I would say publicise it only to those who are likely to be "on our side". Readers of your blogs, Carlotta and Gill, and largely going to be the ones we want to respond, whereas local lists are a touch riskier.

This goes to my post at Gill's Blog : (Can't link to it from here)

I have come to the conclusion that any home educator who allows LAs to overstretch their authority and involve themselves in something they have no right to be involved in is an enemy to the cause of educational freedom and should be treated as such. It is these people who will allow the changes to the legislation to be made. They should not receive the support of others who have fought (At great personal expense)or are fighting hard to stop the state from encroaching on this freedom. They are the enemy within.

Admittedly I was feeling fairly grumpy when I wrote it but I still believe that those of us / you who want to operate with little or no state interference should find more comfortable bedfellows.

33, 452 said...

"I still believe that those of us / you who want to operate with little or no state interference should find more comfortable bedfellows."

We have no say over the fact that the law covers home educators of all types.

Personally, I resent being linked with anyone who also happens to be home educating, as I know that their motives and methods may be very, very, different to my own.

We cannot bypass this link though, unfortunately; but what we *can* do is strive to make sure that the PTB continue to recognise the diversity of methods and philosophies in home education, and battle to stop those who would want stricter legislation from imposing it upon us.

Responding to the consultation does not create an alliance with those who want more state interference - our voices speak to *counter* theirs, not join their chorus.

Let's just hope we have enough to drown them out...

Mike said...

Interesting times.

Carlotta said...

Hi Gill,

My feeling is that it could well not come down to numbers for and against. What I hope we are doing by responding is demonstrating that at least a signficant proportion of HEors know that we actually have a killer argument and that the DCSF ignore this at their peril. We don't need to march on parliament, we simply need to threaten them with the consequences of their actions, ie: If they insist on the setting of standards, and monitoring for those standards, they are deciding the form of education of our children, and they therefore will become responsible for it. At least someone from amongst our number will set out to demonstrate as much and should this state-mandated education fail a child, as it doubtless will, they will be screwed.

This is the sort of problem of which Adonis was well aware, and we should be taking every opportunity (such as in the consult response) to make the new peeps at the DCSF aware as well: they will have a significant problem on their hands, should they try to titivate guidelines or the law.

Gill said...

Yes, that's the hopeful conclusion I keep coming to as well Carlotta, before I descend back into the shadows of paranoia! Reading your comment gave me a bit more hopefulness and a bit less paranoia, so thanks ;-)

Anyway it's too late, as others have said, to decide en masse not to respond and that would have always been a risky (though very tempting!) strategy, so a strong response in the right direction is all we have left to us IMO. It is a pity that those of us who are against increased monitoring arrangements aren't more closely united in conference, but we're doing the best we can I suppose and the lists and blogs offer us some good opportunities to collaborate.

I'll probably be spending big chunks of the next 12 days printing and reading other responses and blogging my further thoughts on my own before I submit it at the last minute, as well as reading everything else I can get my hands on.

Who was it that said responding with a view to directly opposing those LA responses we've seen would be a good idea? Whoever it was, I agree and will be especially focusing on those I think.

Carlotta said...

Hi Gill,

I agree with all you say and I definitely think that responding in the way you suggest (ie: opposing the LA view) is a good idea. A kindly HEor responded in such a manner and have linked to a copy of this in the white boxes in the side bar.

Will be linking to your response and ideas in these boxes as soon as can get a better internet connection...laptop playing up a bit.

Carlotta said...

DHD, Just in case you are reading here...due to unforeseen circumstances, mobile has run out of puff for next few days, am only able to get dial up and land line therefore not easy to get to.

Can get me on GMJS mobile if necessary. Could JF give this to you?

33, 452 said...

Hi Carlotta,

The guidelines do not suggest monitoring of pre-agreed standards, or state responsibility for education. They are fairly clear that none of these things apply to HE, and that *parents* have responsibility for their children's education. We need to praise that clarity, *and further refine it*, in anticipation of LA criticisms (You are definitely right that we need to pre-empt LA responses. That's the most important point made yet, I think).

Schools fail children all the time but they're not "screwed" because of that, are they? I rather suspect that using this argument against state responsibility for HE, would backfire quite spectacularly. Should they become afraid that judging HE kids on school standards, and monitoring this, would make *them* responsible for any "failiure", I think you'd see moves to outlaw HE altogether start to appear.

IMO, we've all been thinking, thinking, thinking, so much, that we have started to OVER-think, and bring *too* many issues in here, and make this *too* complicated.

That is dangerous because it obscures the immediate issue. The deadline is approaching and we are, consequently, starting to panic that we shall miss opportunties to take the right approach and make important points. We need to take a step back and a few deep breaths.

If we look at Gill's rewording of the questions and answer them honestly and in detail, we shall have covered everything. So calm down, guys! Okay? :)

Anonymous said...

Peachy!
At last you are back-where have you been?
So pleased you have replied to the consultation-IMHO we keep on teeling them there is no need to give more powers to the LA-they already have them in law, as do SS if there is a welfare issue.
Thats what my response says-along with quite a lot about why autonomous home ed works successfuly without monitoring or measurement -and much more efficiently than schools!
I'm not doing any negotiating personally-just reminding them of present responsibilities of the parents and the LA and saying there is no need to change that!
Julie

Mike said...

Jules

Still not quite sure that response is a good idea but you and Carlotta seem to think it is a good idea and who am I to argue with two such intelligent people?

Carlotta said...

Hi Adele,

"The guidelines do not suggest monitoring of pre-agreed standards, or state responsibility for education."

Though they do introduce a number of new concepts which could conceivably be used as pre-agreed standards. ie: the bit about
"reasonable progress" and "consistent involvment of parents or other significant carers" and "recognition of the child's needs, attitudes and aspirations".

Now whilst all of us, in all probability, would freely and happily choose to meet such standards ourselves, my worry is that in the wrong hands, these requirements, particularly the one for "reasonable progress" could be abused to suit LA prejudice. Function creep is written all over this I suspect, and you are therefore right to say that we must titivate this, but actually when I wrote that stuff about standards and the state appropriating responsibility for education, I was thinking more of the info in the Nov and Dec 2006 FOI and about what we know of the way in which many LAs (including Glos) are responding to the consult.

"Schools fail children all the time but they're not "screwed" because of that, are they?"

No, but this is because parents are still responsible for providing a suitable education, even when they hand that responsibility on to a school.

The issue of who is responsible for "provision" can blur the issue here. What I am talking about here is about who is responsible for determining the form and content of an education. Currently the balance rests (just about) with the parent, and the matter of responsibility for provision therefore does not come into conflict with the issue of who is responsible for determining content.

However, if the state makes any further demands of HE families by way of imposition of state mandated standards, they risk changing the whole of education law for all families, HE or otherwise. Section 7 will have to be re-written to make it clear that whilst a parent may still be responsible for provision of education, (which I would regard as a dubious form of responsibility for provision anyhow), it is, under the new situation, the state who is responsible for determining it's form and content.

Therefore if a parent makes provision that follows state-mandated lines, (whether this be in school or at home) and that education fails the child, whoopeee, some parents are going to be in the money, though woe-betide the struggling tax payer.

The state will be screwed if the state inadvertently but in effect appropriates parental responsibility for education, and there are some reasons to suspect that lawyers at the DfES knew this.

I don't think this is a matter of over-thinking it. I think it is a matter of being the killer argument in our armory.

Does this make more sense? (I am very aware that have been explaining my thinking v. badly recently.)

33, 452 said...

Hi Carlotta,

"Though they do introduce a number of new concepts which could conceivably be used as pre-agreed standards. ie: the bit about
"reasonable progress" and "consistent involvment of parents or other significant carers" and "recognition of the child's needs, attitudes and aspirations"."

Which is why we need to fight any such additions, and make sure that all wording reflects current law accurately.

"Now whilst all of us, in all probability, would freely and happily choose to meet such standards ourselves, my worry is that in the wrong hands, these requirements, particularly the one for "reasonable progress" could be abused to suit LA prejudice."

I wouldn't choose to meet *any* standards; I want total freedom to educate my children according to their needs as these change.

There may, for example, be periods of several weeks when one of my children requires solititude and privacy to work on a project, and then I would not be meeting the "consistent involvent of parents or other significant carers" standard.

*This* is why we're responding to the conultation - to make sure no wording that can be used against us gets in there.

"Function creep is written all over this I suspect, and you are therefore right to say that we must titivate this, but actually when I wrote that stuff about standards and the state appropriating responsibility for education, I was thinking more of the info in the Nov and Dec 2006 FOI and about what we know of the way in which many LAs (including Glos) are responding to the consult."

I agree to pre-empt responses, but fighting a proposed amendment to section 7, when there is no such proposal, is taking that idea too far, imo.

"No, but this is because parents are still responsible for providing a suitable education, even when they hand that responsibility on to a school..."

Snipping, but this is an answer to your following paragraphs too! :)

If the state chose to change law to give them the powers to dictate form and content of education (which is not happening currently) then they could still place responsibility for provision onto parents.

Thus, it would be the parents responsibility if standards were not met, not the state's.

We would lose on both counts.

The state currently dictates the form and content of school education, yet (as you so rightly point out) responsibility is still placed in the hands of parents.

If they can do this with schools, they could also do this with home ed.

Should a state mandated education fail a child, they would simply claim that the parent *hadn't* made the provision correctly, and use the "failiure" as "proof" of that.

"The state will be screwed if the state inadvertently but in effect appropriates parental responsibility for education, and there are some reasons to suspect that lawyers at the DfES knew this."

But they aren't going to do this. This isn't mentioned. And as long as parents remained responsible for acertaining that their children were in receipt of this education, then parents would still be responsible for any "failiures".

"I don't think this is a matter of over-thinking it. I think it is a matter of being the killer argument in our armory."

I don't agree.

I think we need to argue against any ambiguous or unwanted wording in the consultation, not cloud the issue with talk of alterations to section 7 of the Education Act, when none are being proposed.

"Does this make more sense?"

I understand, I just don't agree with you on this one.

"(I am very aware that have been explaining my thinking v. badly recently.)"

No, you haven't. Not at all. You're being very clear and articulate.

Now let's try and pass some of that onto the DFCS! :)

Adele

Anonymous said...

"If there were such a thing as a truly united HE Community (pie in the sky I know ;-) ) then I think we could have abstained from responding and sent the message that these guidelines were not sanctioned by us, and that we would refuse to work with them.

There is no such thing though obviously, and so I think we're into damage limitation and lines in the sand."

""I was just sitting here thinking of all the people I have met who follow a more school like approach to HE and dreading the fact that they would respond to this consultation.
- exactly my worry, and the reason why I'm not shouting about the consult on our local list, for e.g.

I'm really in 2 minds about that. I wish we knew what proportion of responders would answer which way!"


I thought we were a tolerant bunch, but the prejudice here shown to those using more formal home ed methods is quite shocking. Why do people suppose that someone who is not autonomous will be in favour of monitoring?

I know quite a few more structured home educators and none are in favour of monitoring. How you hope for a united he community when you are openly so prejudiced -- talking about this "side" and that "side" is quite astounding.


Wow.

Carlotta said...

Hi Adele,

I really appreciate being able to follow this debate through to look for loopholes, so many thanks for it.

"If the state chose to change law to give them the powers to dictate form and content of education (which is not happening currently) then they could still place responsibility for provision onto parents.

Thus, it would be the parents responsibility if standards were not met, not the state's.

We would lose on both counts.

The state currently dictates the form and content of school education, yet (as you so rightly point out) responsibility is still placed in the hands of parents."

The thing is, the parent is actually currently responsible for dictating content of education in the act of making the decision whether or not to take up the school option.

This parental responsibility to decide the content of education is what could make change to HE law so significant. If the state decides to dicate the content of all educational options, then it effectively will take on responsibility for this content.
I agree that this does not automatically mean that it takes responsibility for provision, but it nonetheless will open them up to huge threat that someone will go to court to demonstrate that the state is now responsible for the content of education. Some more sensible members of both houses are very aware of this problem and we need to play up to it in our responses, I think because it is a strong and sensible argument.

"Should a state mandated education fail a child, they would simply claim that the parent *hadn't* made the provision correctly, and use the "failure" as "proof" of that."

Once the principle is established in law that the state is responsible for educational content, someone, somewhere will be able to prove that the state had failed, even if it be in a conflict with a form of education that the parent wished to provide (as inscribed in EU law...about parents having the freedom to educate according to their views etc)....


""The state will be screwed if the state inadvertently but in effect appropriates parental responsibility for education, and there are some reasons to suspect that lawyers at the DfES knew this.""

"But they aren't going to do this. This isn't mentioned."

Probably not in the guidelines, I agree, but the real risk is that the guidelines will be re-written under pressure from the LAs and there is plenty in LA demands and in the winter 2006 FOIs which would effectivey end the principle for parental responsibility for education. The fact that it isn't explicitly mentioned in many places (except by me perhaps) is probably no accident. Adonis himself was pretty oblique and abstruse about this problem in his Hansarded debate, though it is still very possible to catch his drift, if you have some background info, I do believe.

They don't want us to realise that this is a significant problem for them, and I think it certainly would help if we at least mentioned it in passing, just so as to let them know that we know of this problem for them.

33, 452 said...

Hi Carlotta,

"They don't want us to realise that this is a significant problem for them, and I think it certainly would help if we at least mentioned it in passing, just so as to let them know that we know of this problem for them."

That makes sense. :)

I don't think it can do any harm to mention it, and it may well be beneficial, depending on the phrasing. :)

I just don't think we should make it a central argument.

I think the central argument is the existing law. And the main approach should be based on ensuring that any guidelines reflect this accurately.

To say "this is in breach of the law" is a killer argument itself.

If "function creep" is their aim here, then making sure that these guidelines follow current law to the letter is an effective way to fight this.

In order to pass new laws gradually (hoping that nobody notices) they would, at some point, have to breach existing law. But, without changing the law first, they can't do that.

Therefore, any plans to slip changes past us unnoticed and unchallenged will fail if we make any official documents adhere strictly to current law.

I think that should be the focus of the argument.