Saturday, June 28, 2008

Scottish Man Sues Council Over Inadequate Lessons

From the Scotsman:

"Speaking outside court yesterday Mr Tierney said: "No-one is willing to be held accountable for failing to educate my daughter."

It couldn't happen in England of course, given that we don't have an equivalent of the Scottish Standards in Schools Act, which contains the following:

"Duty of education authority in providing school education

(1) Where school education is provided to a child or young person by, or by virtue of arrangements made, or entered into, by, an education authority it shall be the duty of the authority to secure that the education is directed to the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential."

Why should parents in England be celebrating? Well it confirms once and for all that legislators should be very careful not to infringe the duty of parents to be responsible for the education of their children. It's not clear if the action will succeed however, because presumably parental responsibility for education still stands in Scotland.

Update: Have subsequently heard that where a Scottish parent delegates the responsibility for educational provision to a public (state) school, section 1 of the SinSS Act applies and the parent is reasonably entitled to expect the test to be met. Looks like this dad might be in with a good chance then!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Naming and Shaming - Part 2

This time it's the turn of County Durham LA. We hear that until about a month ago, their website informed those who wanted to find out more about home education that they should contact the Child Protection Team...ho hum! This does now seem to have been removed but the LA is still far from exonerated. Ultra vires implications are littered about the website with a what looks like a happy disregard for the law of the land. Take the following statement:

"The Local Authority is responsible for ensuring that the arrangements put in place provide a suitable education for the child."

Err....No! An LA only has a duty to act when it appears that a suitable education is not taking place or where a child has a statement. If an LA goes down the slippery path of assuming they have an automatic right to monitor and assess, they run the risk of appropriating responsibility for the provision of education and we all know where this could lead - if parents are no longer ultimately responsible for educational provision, LAs should expect to foot a huge bill from angry parents of children who were failed by the school system.

The suggestion that County Durham LA believes they are indeed ultimately responsible for educational provision is confirmed in letters to local HEors. In a recent missive, the LA's "Operations Manager" asserts that home educators make applications to the LA in order to be allowed to HE. So yep, Section 7 which ensures parental responsibility for the provision of an education thereby goes out the window. Oh right then, come on one and all - jump in and sue your LA when your child doesn't thrive in school.

Wake up County Durham, stick to the law of the land and don't just pretend that you do with specious assertions in your letters to HEors that you are sticking to government guidelines.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Midlands Regional HE Conference Report

...can be found here. Many thanks to Fiona N and Julie B.

The History of the Universe Made Easy

...and other excellent videos on related themes have been made available through Homeschooling Freethinkers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Then They Came for Us

UK home educators in the 1970s and 80s were not infrequently threatened with the removal of the children by the state. It doesn't happen nearly so often nowadays, what with home education having achieved a modest degree of acceptance and perhaps more significantly with the HE community being such a strong, joined-up and vocal one, but for some the fear still lurks, if perhaps somewhat irrationally.

David Friedman argues very cogently that this fear could and should be laid to rest once and for all. I think he's right and his solution a good one.

Dr Byron on School Refusal... the Times. Thankfully Pete tells Dr. Byron a thing or two, though whether she is capable of understanding what he's saying is a different matter.

This post comes to you from an elated, (post-hockey and rounders elation that is) and generally well-satisfied home educating mum of a play-group refusing child. This child, his sister and I have just spent most of the day in the company of about 50 other people of all ages, in several different contexts, sporting and creative. Both children had to be persuaded not to go for yet another sleep-over because we parents actually fancied spending some time with our offspring.

So all in all, I don't believe that respecting a child's choices about their education will mean that they become withdrawn, anti-social or fearful. Ds is popular, funny, gentle and well-liked in his circle. OTOH, I strongly suspect that he may have become desperately and possibly permanently depressed had he been forced to go to playgroup when he wasn't ready for it. Dr. Byron should be aware that some studies show that over 50% of school refusers who are forcibly returned to school, go on to develop long term problems with unhappiness and/or social withdrawal. Her advice is by no means sound, and if any school refusing child or parent of such a child should happen to read this, they could be reassured to know that home education can be an extremely satisfying, life-enhancing, empowering and responsible solution.

Monday, June 23, 2008

HE in the FT

You have to register for the full article but it's worth the effort, primarily for the slice of life of an HE meeting and for the nuggets from Mike Fortune-Wood's research.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Is it me or is it them?

It's one of those facts of life to which I am yet to become adjusted. What am I talking about? It's the near constant sense that I and a reasonable number of other HEors inhabit a universe that runs alongside but never crosses over into the universe inhabited by the large majority of people. For me, this in turn generates a near constant feeling of befuddlement, of the "is it me or is it them?" variety. Are most people completely sane to think that school is the place you go to prepare your children for civilised society? In my universe, whenever I hear yet another inside story from school, it confirms my thinking that many schools are places you send your children to train for gang warfare, but then perhaps it really is me who has lost the plot.

Anyhoo...the latest story comes from a sink school in a neighbouring authority. A young teacher there who is usually a competent disciplinarian, reports that when four months pregnant, she was pushed over backwards and knocked unconscious. Some other delightful young individual who attended the place presumably in order to be socialised also had the courtesy to inform her that he hoped her baby died in the womb.

Ho hum. The school persuaded the teacher not to press charges, for which she is now rightly furious, and perhaps this is actually the way that schools get away with it. They just pretend such disgraceful things simply don't happen.

Or is it really the case that schooling parents know all the gory details, but just think this is a normal way of life to which you must become habituated? Hm??? Come on, which is it?

Home Education's Time may have Come

It seems that a little extra-curricula education has been going on in the Prof. Smithers' dept, because so says he in the Independent today.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The UK Youth Parliament seeking ideas from 11 - 18 year olds.

"The UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) is currently updating its Manifesto and they want to hear from any young person aged 11-18 who has an idea, issue, passion or cause they want to share. All ideas will be discussed by Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) at this year's UKYP Annual Sitting in July. The best ideas will then be included in UKYP's new Manifesto.

Go here to suggest an idea for the Manifesto.

To use the forum, you will need to register first, which you can do here:

To read the existing Manifesto, please go here.

Help from 11 - 16 year old HEK's is required on this thread in the forum.

Wii Fit worth every penny. Daryl agrees.

Problems with Negotiations with Local Authorities

From Brighton and Hove HEors:

"We are forced to conclude that the reference group is nothing but a smokescreen, intended to give the impression that this policy is based on consultation with home educators."

Sadly Brighton's HEors are not the only ones to have experienced the smokescreen effect of apparent negotiations with LAs and it does indeed seem as if a number of LAs require more than a gentle hand to help them understand that they are acting illegally. Perhaps it's time that EO and AHEd step into the breach in the way that Schoolhouse does in Scotland.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

HEK's Radio Station

...from the Otherwise Club, Kilburn is calling for more HEK contributions.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Home Schooling Quiz

Find out whether you annoy other home educators. Our score: 29, ie: we do, but only a bit.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Informal Learning = 80%

Based on a study of self-reporting workers, (which resonates with me in that I constantly find that information that I find myself imparting to the children is stuff which I learnt out of school):

"Most of what we learn, we learn from other people -- parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, playmates, cousins, Little Leaguers, Scouts, school chums, roommates, teammates, classmates, study groups, coaches, bosses, mentors, colleagues, gossips, co-workers, neighbors, and, eventually, our children. Sometimes we even learn from teachers.

At work we learn more in the break room than in the classroom. We discover how to do our jobs through informal learning -- observing others, asking the person in the next cubicle, calling the help desk, trial-and-error, and simply working with people in the know. Formal learning - classes and workshops and online events - is the source of only 10% to 20% of what we learn at work."

This from Jay Cross, who looks to be a natural ally of home educators and all personalised learners.

Jay Cross:

"...served as CEO of eLearning Forum for its first five years, was the first to use the term eLearning on the web, and has keynoted such conferences as Online Educa (Berlin), I-KNOW (Austria), Research Innovations in Learning (U.S.), Emerging eLearning (Abu Dhabi), Training (U.S.),Quality in eLearning (Bogotá), and Learning Technology (London).

He is the author of Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance, coauthor of Implementing eLearning, contributor to The Blended Learning Handbook, and author of many magazine articles. Every day, thousands of people read his two blogs, Internet Time and Informal Learning Blog.

Jay is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School. He and his wife Uta live with two miniature longhaired dachshunds in the hills of Berkeley, California."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Site of the Month

...has been the Beeb's Newsround site, with current events, quizzes and animations, such as this one.

Child Protection?

ARCH points to the terrible hidden consequences of "child protection" by the state.

These Look Fun.... university lectures on iTunes, neuroscience from UCL, English Literature from Oxford, various from Imperial College. The BBC has the gen.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Letter of the Month

From Peterborough Today:

"Home Education Can Be a Success

I write regarding your article "17-fold increase in home schooling" (ET, June 4).

I would query the use of the words schooling and tutoring to describe home education. Schooling implies that all children attend the same institution or are formally taught the same thing, and neither is the case with home education.

Tutoring is misleading as it has connotations that a specific teacher or tutor is brought in to teach the young people, which in my experience is rarely the case with families who home educate.

I have been home educated for just over four years now.

Since I left school, I have worked towards GCSE and A-level qualifications and currently have a conditional place to read archaeology and geography at university. Being home educated has allowed me to take exams as and when I was ready, and to carry out volunteer work at Flag Fen Bronze Age Centre.

It's important to let people know that it is possible to gain qualifications, go to university, and be successful after being home educated.

PIPPA GARDNER (aged 17)"

Sunday, June 08, 2008

DCSF Ideas Tree

Home Educators appear to have hogged the leaves - a vociferous, politicised bunch it seems.

Home Educated Joshua to Stand as an MYP

...and the Independent is seeking comments on the reasons for the problems children face in the UK. See Freedom for Children to Grow for details.

Words That Don't Go Together - Truth-Seeking, Schools and Ofsted

There's more on the vast and hugely evident disconnect between Ofsted reports and reality from ex-Ofsted inspector, John Bald. He explains how schools are getting away with not offering pupils extra support in specific areas in which they badly need it. This lack of help in schools is a common complaint amongst those who deregister to home educate.

Why am I bothered about the disconnect given that we have opted out of the system? Well, it's still irksome to know that parents allow themselves to be fooled into thinking a totally unacceptable situation is fine for their children and it's irksome to think that schools are getting away with it, since it's hard to imagine that the situation can improve if the problems are denied.

By way of yet another example of the disconnect, a friend of mine went to look at our local secondary school which is apparently thriving if one were to believe the Ofsted reports, yet amongst many other less than impressive occurrences that took place during her visit, she was taken into an DT class to find complete mayhem, some sort of protection racket being perpetuated and no teacher to be seen. It emerged that this said teacher was hiding in a back room having completely given up on maintaining any form of discipline, let alone actually teaching anything.

But most irksome of all, I think that this hypocrisy sets up a terrible model of lack of respect for truth-seeking. Given that truth-seeking is one of the fundamental principles that I wish to impart in our home educating life, it looks as if we might have problems adapting to school, where dissembling for self-protection appears to be the norm.

I am proud that Dd recently told Badger that she couldn't possibly say the Rainbows' pledge (containing a reference to God), because at the moment she is a fairly convinced atheist and that it is better to tell what one believes to be the truth if one possibly can. Although Badger did look a trifle discombobulated, Dd remained completely unflustered. Apparently none of the other schooled children had ever approached Badger on the matter before, though I bet a number of them have never taken the idea of God terribly seriously. Ho hum. I would not be happy about that record.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Naming and Shaming - Trafford LA

Home educators everywhere are once again infuriated by the fact that those who have a remit to understand education law, ie: certain members of Trafford Local Authority, appear either unable to read, or are unable to understand what they read, or perhaps worse still, wilfully choose to behave unlawfully.

We hear via HE lists that a new LA advisor for Home Education has been appointed in Trafford and that she is making unlawful demands to visit all home educating families, whether or not there is any reason to think that an education is not being provided. To compound the sins, Trafford's website appears to endorse these ultra vires demands. Finally, to top it all off, one of the home educators who raised the issue with the LA then received an email from someone in the LA, clearly sent to her in error, which revealed a degree of unprofessionalism and discourtesy that would cause one to lose all confidence in the authority.

The MP, Chief Executive, Head of the Education Committee, anyone else we can think of, can expect to hear about this. Do these people endorse illegal behaviour by their staff? Do they realise that it is their duty to ensure that the LA provides clear and LEGAL information for HE parents:

"that are clear and accurate and which set out the legal position, and roles and responsibilities..."

We expect to hear that the advisor has been dismissed since she has behaved unlawfully, that the website has been re-written and that those within the LA who behave in an unprofessional fashion have been reprimanded and have mended their ways.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

1,616 % Increase in HE

It's likely that we will see many more examples of this sort of story in the next few months and years as the children's database, aka ContactPoint, comes on board as a result of which every home educator in the land will supposedly become known to the authorties. However, the expansion of most HE groups would suggest that the increase in the numbers of home educators does exist for real, even if it isn't as staggering as this article maintains.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Swindon Home Educators the Japanese Times.

Every Single Parent Matters?

From the AHED Press Release on the matter of the proposed changes in the benefits system:

"The UK Government has made it clear they see no value in parenting and would rather see mums and dads out flippping burgers on the minimum wage, topped up with tax credits, child care subsidies and housing benefits, than caring for their own children. This will of course cost the public purse far more than providing the safety net of Income Support for families, especially where children have special needs."

From a purely fiscal point of view, that seems sound. Of course, it's impossible to factor in the hidden costs of children raised without parents, but they will be there without a doubt.