Sunday, March 15, 2009

Could We Accept Some Form of Support?

With Mr Badman regularly suggesting that one way to overcome barriers between Local Authorities and home educators is that HEors be offered support, and with HEors first reaction being "uh oh, that weaselly word, support. Yes, that would be support with strings attached, HEors dancing like puppets. For support, read monitoring and control", some of us have been wondering if there actually can be any way forward on this front.

What we are clear we don't want: anything that all of us HAVE to do. We don't want to have to log in the morning, or pitch up to some centre, do a curriculum, do SATS, do exams.

We don't want something that starts out innocuously, by offering something that then mutates into being forced to do something we never signed up for.

Most of us don't want something that will engulf us, take all our time, reduce our capacity to sort our lives out for ourselves. (See link above.)

So we are looking at a few of the examples that have been set up around the country that seemed to have worked, and haven't come under fire for wrecking the home educating community and effectively returning children to school, a la Bedfordshire scheme (again).

There are a number of possible models. There's the Dudley scheme, which offers English and Maths lessons of one and a quarter hours each, on a Wednesday morning, is entirely voluntary, paid for by the LA, and may or may not end up in taking a GCSE. That sounds good.

The Home Education Centre in Chard seems like another possibility. They are funded by the LA, but what they get up to seems to be entirely determined by the families themselves. They meet for two days a week and have the option of a wide range of activities. The only problem here: they have reached a maximum number. Home educators looking in from the outside could be feeling pretty desperate as deep friendships form and they can't join in.

And Dani has just pointed me to the Milton Keynes model: a once-a-week drop-in centre, providing advice to HEors, play equipment for younger children, and access to an exam centre for external candidates. There are also regular opportunities for HEors to meet with the LA to discuss various issues such as apprenticeship schemes and truancy patrols. Milton Keynes has for a long time had a reputation for respecting the rights of home educators to educate as they see fit and for their sensible approach in their guidelines.

Have also been casting around and looking at models abroad. We must do our best to avoid the problems posed by cyber-schools in the US, but an umbrella school, where you sign up, sometimes for free, and simply report on the number of hours of study you have undertaken? Now that sounds interesting.

Would be interested to hear what you think?

21 comments:

Dani said...

What about the Milton Keynes model? It is described in this article from the Home Education Journal (opens pdf), and sounds fine to me.

lotusbirther said...

Personally I would only like the OFFER of support -completely voluntary and not even a thread of string attached.

Allie said...

Hi,

The link you have to the "home education centre in Chard" takes you to the site of the South Downs Learning Centre which is actually here in Brighton and is not LA funded.

Anonymous said...

Dani,

Wow! That looks brilliant! They seem very respectful and considerate and happy to be there JUST for support and not to police. There appears to be a complete understanding of the importance of parents retaining control over educational choices (with children's wishes respected of course!).

I read 90% of text (so might have missed something) but with what I read I think I would have chosen to have this type of support if it had been offered in my area rather than have felt obliged to reject all contact.

D

Carlotta said...

Thanks, Allie...have corrected and bother, just shouldn't post in a hurry.

Ruth said...

The important thing to remember here is we do not have to overcome barriers. Why do LA's want to? It isn't to be friendly but to try to take control of what we are doing. I personally don't like the look of any of the options and cannot see the point of them but thats me. My view is if people want LA support they should think about why their kids are not in school. Many of them will be HE cos the LA did not give any support when they were supposed to. I think all the "support" options are back door ways of keeping an eye on us and emulating a type of school model which I find insulting tbh.The umbrella school idea is the worse imo cos I would not like to report the number of hours of study my kids have undertaken cos I wouldn't want to break it down in such an arbirary way and if I was under a school I might as well not HE. It all comes with hidden strings. We need to remember the law. We hold all the cards and they don't like it. They are trying to appease us in a situation they have no control over which they wish they had 100% control over.
Ruth - off back to her trench:)

Carlotta said...

Believe me, I do understand your position Ruth. Am putting myself out of my usual comfort zone as some sort of thought experiment and am yet to feel safe outside it, tbh!

Anonymous said...

What I thought was appealing about the Milton Keynes model, other than its non coercive appearance, was that it offered ways and means of sitting exams if desired. The difficulties involved in doing this completely outside the system are enormous.

D

Jackie said...

Not so much support as justice ... I do think we should be able to register as external candidates for exams, at little or no cos. Since we are paying in our taxes for schools that we mostly don't use, surely it's fair that we can use them just to sit exams?
If they're worried we'll affect their league table figures, how hard can it be to exclude external candidates from the figures? They should be excluded anyway, since the schools have no right to claim credit for our good results!

Gill said...

I'd say a flat NO to any such questions: I think they're only being asked (by Graham Badman, not you Carlotta!) to establish the basis of a bargaining position. We're managing just fine without their kind of 'support' and we therefore don't need to yield any ground in exchange for it.

cosmic seed said...

The exam sitting would be the only thing I would be happy about accepting, and then only for those who wanted it, with absolutely no pressure or stigma on anyone who didn't wish to avail themselves of it. My LA is already doing what it can to get this arranged through PRU's so it is possible if they want to help.

Anonymous said...

I think free exams would be the best start - and I mean GCSE and A levels.

The Chard one, I am near(ish) and had no idea it was funded by the LA. It does have a reputation of being very School-like so some parents are actually put off by that. But a mix of types of HE is best. I know lots of kids get loads out of the Chard group.

Merry said...

I'd go for something like the MK/Chard opportunities - so long as it WAS voluntary. No registers, no expectations, no testing. I'd go for them giving us a free room to meet and exam options - i'd even go for them having a panel of people available for questions - so long as there were no strings.

I just think there would be strings.

Firebird said...

I'd like them to offer free GCSEs and A Levels as a first step. Let's see if they can mange that without misbehaving before accepting anything else. My level of trust is THAT low.

alison said...

I think asking for cheap and easy access to exam-sitting would be great - would save a lot of people a lot of money. I think it would be an interesting request to put to them too - there's a lot of protest from them about the purity of their intentions, and it could be a chance for us to see whether they are at all likely to put their money where their mouth is.

Gill said...

There will be strings. It will be: "We're giving you this. Now you have to give us that."

That's the only reason he's pushing the question so hard, because if we're not asking for anything they've got no room for manoeuvre. It's horse-trading: it's how these things work.

I know it's tempting, but we shouldn't fall for it.

Leo said...

No support.

Leo said...

I really don't understand what your agenda is now. In what accepting support will help protect autonomous education? Did you forget they want to change the law?

cosmic seed said...

would you be amenable to giving/reading out an open letter to GB at the meeting on thursday?

Carlotta said...

Hi Cosmic Seed,

Yes, sure thing, as long as we weren't saying something crazy :)

Would probably be a good idea to post such a letter as widely as possible, to see what others think too.

cosmic seed said...

Right I'll get something set up on FB group where people can contribute then. My biggest concern is the fact that I have read that Badman doesn't believe that being assessed/monitored has an effect on the child, so I just want to say that it's well known in science that the observer alters the behaviour of the observed - right down to particles in quantum physics. So for him to deny this is just utterly arrogant.