Have woken this morning feeling resolutely determined to keep at it: to keep telling the DCSF what's what, and to do this if necessary over and over again and apparently at least every time they get a new Parliamentary Under Secretary.
However I was gob-smacked last night when I first heard about the announcement and immediate commencement of yet another consultation, which came by way this declaration of intent from the DCSF. For a fuller understanding of the loose way with words which leads to a general muddling of responsibilities and legislation, you could also visit this page on the Every Child Matters site and for the icing on the cake, you can get the hidden agenda from the Times and Daily Mail articles here and here.
It's not surprising quite a number of us home educators were moithered. As a press release from Education Otherwise explains, we have already responded to three - that's THREE consultations from this government department since 2005. The latest guidelines on home education were only thrashed out and then issued in 2007. So what's changed?
Well, not a lot it seems. The only thing that seems to have happened is that the rumours and innuendos against home educators from various government quarters seem to have been stepped up. Principally, there is a suggestion that home education is used by some parents as a cover for inadequate education or other forms of abuse such as forced marriage. However when EO asked for evidence for these assertions, none was forthcoming and there is a strong suspicion that these charges are trumped up or exaggerated as a way of justifying increased state intrusion into our lives.
AHED (Action for Home Education) pursued this very issue back in 2007. See here.
There are plenty of other things to complain about. The Baroness herself assured EO that we would be informed and involved prior to consultations taking place. Right oh, so how can you explain this situation then Baroness? We only knew of this consultation last night when the whole thing was up and ready to run. Yes, I do think an explanation is in order.
Further, the whole thing has to be done and dusted by the 20th Feb, (some four weeks away), so how are the DCSF getting away with it when most consultations are meant to be at least 12 weeks long? It seems this is legitimised in "exceptional circumstances". Quite why these circumstances are exceptional is impossible to ascertain from this site, but one wonders if it has something to do with the DCSF prefering to get a squewed response. Most LAs and interested NGOs will manage an emailed response but all those HEors without an easy internet connection will not have a chance cotton on or have the time to ask for paper copies of the consultation.
Am off to work on a response which will be posted here post haste. Luckily for us, we won't have to think too hard as we have done this several times before, and are familiar with the relevant legislation. The only thing that has happened in the interim: a revision of the statutory guidance for Local Authorities on identifying children missing from suitable education, copied here. We will have to consider this in our responses to this consultation since the guidance is statutory.
But honestly, we should not be having to do this. This whole charade is a classic example of how government interference reduces productivity and efficiency. They may have nothing better to do with their time, but we certainly do. (I was going to spend this part of the morning looking up resources to explain the Hadron collider in answer to my son's questions from yesterday, but that has gone by the by...any tips gratefully received.)