So here (finally), is the press release re the DSCF's "day of debate to shape our children's future".
Of course if you are a right-minded parent, it is hard not to be alarmed by the possible interpretations of the word "our". Just who exactly do the DSCF think that children actually belong to? This is all the more worrying for the fact that the debate seems to be framed so as to allow the state to muscle in even further on the job of parenting.
It's even worse for the purists amongst us for whom the word "our" in this context is sacrilege. For these antipodeans, it is quite clear that children only belong to themselves. Yeah, stick that item on your agenda, please.
Perhaps this sort of contrariness is the reason for the tardiness of the public announcement. It seems quite likely that the DCSF didn't want to tell the wider public about the debate till the last minute because they were didn't want non-conformist interest groups muscling in on this event. Ho hum - if the government carry on like this, the idea that consultation will inform democracy will start to look even more implausible.
Yet who could blame these interest groups for wanting a say when you read that the consultation:
"will help shape the Government’s ‘Children’s Plan’ - which will set out how, over the next decade, the Government, parents, the voluntary sector and schools can work together to ensure that every child gets the best start in life and the support they need to fulfil their potential and be happy, healthy and safe."
Yep, a decade of doing what the government and 400 probably fairly innocent, randomly selected people say! Yikes that's serious, and the worry is that is very easy for the innocent to be spun along by all the five desired outcomes of the Every Child Matters agenda. After all, most of us would want our children to be able to lead satisfactory lives in the way the goverment prescribes and it is therefore very easy to be lulled into the idea that the government could just be so obliging as to help everyone achieve this. But if they are wise, the 400 should pause and ask themselves if they want to achieve these outcomes with the state holding their hand and telling them what to do all the way, for if they don't make a stand against government diktat, there will be no room for taking responsibility for ourselves and for thinking outside the tick boxes that will be set for us. If the 400 fall for it, and they doubtless will, our lives will be scrutinized, inspected, judged and controlled to a degree that we have never known before.
Even worse, we hear that:
"in addition to the public consultation there are three expert groups chaired by Children, Schools and Families Ministers. Jo Davison, Director of Children’s Services in Gloucester co-chairs the group looking at all services for 0-7 year olds with Beverley Hughes."
This is bad news because this Jo is the very one who lobbied government for more powers to intrude upon home educators in what looked like an attempt to deflect criticism of her departments following their failures to act in the Spry case.
Our last remaining hope, (and I do admit that the will to keep fighting has almost left me, save for the fact that I see unfettered, personalised home education working so perfectly for the children here) is that the 400 innocent folk is actually approximately 390 innocent folk, for a few members of Education Otherwise have managed to muscle in on most of the consultation groups.
Shout loudly for freedom, EO and reiterate the killer argument: that if the state does intrude and dictate, they in effect take over responsibility for parenting and education, and we will have nothing better to do than take them to the courts when they fail children.
Oh yes, and if the rest of us still haven't succumbed to utter cynicism about the consultation process and fancy making this point again, you can try to help EO out with this short e-consult here.