"Cheshire Calls For Tougher Guidelines Concerning Home Education"
Stop. Go no further than that just now, for there's already a problem. The thing is, guidelines do have to respect the law and if you go any tougher than the current draft guidelines, the law will have to be changed to reflect this.
OK, that's the first howler, (more on which below). The second one is that members of Cheshire County Council clearly haven't asked themselves whether they really do want such changes in law, for if they had, they wouldn't be asking for tougher guidelines. Doh dum.
They blunder on:
"...chairman and Executive Support Member for Children's Services Shirley Harris said: "Some of the guidelines are ambiguous and some simply do not go far enough. For example all children educated at home should be registered as home educated wit (sic) the authority. "
It rather looks as if the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing in this authority, for with the establishment of the children's database, aka ContactPoint, there will be de facto registration of home educators anyhow. Sadly, we have already conceded this point.
Back to Cheshire's pronouncements:
"Elective home education is the only area of education and child care that is not subject to more rigorous statutory regulation concerned with quality assurance and accountability. "
The "only" area? Cripes, it's worse than I'd hoped. Yup, if this is indeed the case, Cheshire parents had better be making sure those five portions of fruit and veg are consumed or their council will be coming to get them.
Parenting by parents? Forget it in Cheshire. The state will dictate precisely what you do in every area of your lives, or else you will fail in their quality assurance tests. Can parents honestly therefore still be held responsible for child care and education? I don't think so. This simply doesn't work and we will have to change the law in this regard. The tagline should be "Cheshire CC Calls for Powers to Take Over Parenting".
Further, what is it with this idea of accountability? To whom are we meant to be accountable in every area of our lives? Surely it isn't actually ultimately the state for in other areas, the state collects data at least nominally to be answerable to tax payers, parents and children. In a right-minded world, home educating parents need only be answerable to their children and almost all of us can manage that without a stranger equipped with powers, ignorance of the situation, a clip board and probably a dose of prejudice and bias to boot, to tell us what our children are telling us every single day. The chances of that working out are really quite minimal if you factor the bias and prejudice and just how much most HE children don't want to bother with that stranger who could change their lives dramatically for the worse.
"Children should also be involved and consulted if their parents want to elect home education (sic) so that their needs and aspirations are taken into account. "
Yep, they should and are. Home educated parents can manage this, thanks.
Then again, if the state really is going to require HE kids to be consulted and taken seriously by council employers about their needs and aspirations, then surely it is only fair to do it for schooled kids? Yep, if the state does go down this route, then we will demand parity. CC's everywhere will need to introduce a council policy which requires that they take all children's needs and aspirations seriously, (not just HE children.) Councils will, for example, need to ask children who are about to go primary school, age 4, what their needs and aspirations are. Given that a significant number of this population will tell you that they would prefer to stay home and carry on learning and playing there, CCs will at least make huge savings on their education bill. In this situation, councils will also find out that there are almost no children who are HE'd against their will whilst thousands and thousands of schooled children are not happy bunnies and are not having their needs and aspirations met, are threatening suicide because of bullying or are bored rigid by impersonalised learning schemes.
"There is also a need for a standardised system of monitoring visits and reporting to parents which should be applied to all local authorities."
Why? Who does this benefit? Given that almost all HE families, even when they have relatively good relationships with LAs, will tell you that the LA visit is extremely disruptive, anxiety-provoking and provides nothing of value to them at all, what purpose exactly would these visits serve for these families? How would these children benefit?
Plus, where will all this money come from?
Plus, if the state does do this, they must concede that they have taken over responsibility for education, for in the instituation of regular compulsory monitoring, a family is implicitly required to meet standards that are set by the state which are not freely chosen by them. Ho hum. Yes, we would need new legislation to reflect this point. Whilst a parent may remain responsible for provision of education, the state is ultimately responsible for it's form and content and for the monitoring it. There will be plenty of opportunity in such a system to demonstrate that the state fails.