Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Home Education Debate in Westminster

MP Mr. Mark Field, (Cons) yesterday demonstrated a firm grasp of the issues in the debate on home education in Westminster:

"The latest review will mark the third such consultation pertaining to home education over the past four years. Any action stemming from it could affect the balance of power between civil liberties and state intervention, whether one is innocent until proven guilty or guilty until proven innocent, and whether the state or parents have ultimate responsibility for their children. The ability to be free from an all-knowing, all-seeing state’s ideas of education, welfare and standards forms the fundamental appeal for many of those who choose home education for their children. Any attempt to alter what is very much a matter of balance would undermine the entire ethos of education."

The debate concluded before Ms Diana Johnson, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families could be supplied with an answer to the points she raised.

She said:

"...every child has the fundamental right to receive an education, and we need to ensure that that important human right is delivered for every child in the land,"

Ooops, stop right there. It all sounds so nice but it already appears to contain a questionable assumption for who is "we"? Shouldn't this be the parent? If you say that the state must automatically be assured that an education is taking place, then you are accepting that the state is the parent of first resort and not simply the safety net when the parents fail. Within this, you are also assuming that the state has the right to determine the nature of education, so the state must be prepared to accept responsibility when parents everywhere, schooling or otherwise, hold the state responsible should that state determined education fail their child.

Ms Johnson continues:

"even in those rare cases where their parents’ convictions conflict with their right to be educated...It would be rather extreme convictions. It would be a very small number of parents who did not want their children to be educated. It would be a very extreme belief or philosophy that made them follow that path, and the state would, rightly, have to take a view."

In those circumstances, the state would have a role, and they already have the powers they need to intervene in these cases.

She also said:

"We must also ensure that children have the opportunity freely to express their views about the education that they receive, in line with the United Nations convention on the rights of the child."

Quite so. "We" the home educating parents are doing just that, though we question whether school parents are doing it quite to the same extent. Over the last few years, I have asked hundreds of HE children where they would prefer to be educated. Every single one of them chose HE. In the past few days, I have asked a much smaller number of schooled children where they would prefer to be educated. Six out of seven of these (admittedly they know my children, and see how home education works) said they would prefer to HE.

UPDATE: Dani makes the point that it would be a good idea to forward Lord Adonis's thoughts (October 2006) on the best way to enact the rights of children to an education to Diana Johnson - just by way of a reminder of what her lawyers are likely to say to her.

14 comments:

Dani said...

Diana Johnson needs to be reminded of Andrew Adonis's careful remarks on the question of a 'right to education' in 2006(?)

Carlotta said...

Good point, Dani. Yes, that would be an excellent thing to forward to her.

http://www.freedomforchildrentogrow.org/Adonis_Judd_Oct13_2006_copiable.pdf

Anonymous said...

From Johnson's remarks it seems that they just want to be able to have an easy tick box system so that their officials can manage without having to understand anything. She herself seemed to have understood nothing about the epistemology behind AHE. So please do forward more info!!!

My family have yet to meet a schooled child that didn't wish he/she could be HEed. (So that's just one from 100s who actually finds school beneficial!) No one is listening to most children's main anxieties - bullying at school and undue pressure to perform, as reported by the children's commissioner.

D

Anonymous said...

They only listen to children when they can manipulate children into saying what they want.

Danae
http://www.threedegreesoffreedom.blogspot.com

Raquel said...

"We must also ensure that children have the opportunity freely to express their views about the education that they receive, in line with the United Nations convention on the rights of the child."

Yes, and I bet most children if they were really allowed to speak their minds freely ,would opt to stay at home and not be inspected.
If the minister argued that her children love school and would never choose home because *school is the best place to learn*, maybe we could query her home environment and insist on inspecting it and make her prove her innocence...oh no but that would be completely unfair wouldn't it?

Carlotta said...

On the subject of manipulating what children say, I heard a really vivid example of this only yesterday which demonstrates very well how vulnerable families are to the whim of a so-called professional.

Will make it untraceable and then blog the story, asap.

emma said...

I just wrote to Mark Field to thank him. And I have sent some bedtime reading to Diana Johnson ("How children learn at home" and "Free Range Education"). She has a hard job ahead of her getting to grips with a new ministerial portfolio, poor woman, so I thought I'd send a breath of fresh air without the all-too-familiar whiff of the DCSF agenda :-D

Anonymous said...

I think that whilst children are encouraged to 'freely express their views', there is no indication that their views will be taken into account and, as Carlotta says, will not be misused in some way.

It's possible that the current false solicitousness about listening to children is even worse than a direct 'you do as I say' attitude. At least the control was out in the open before, whereas now it is devious and fake. But perhaps it is an inevitably unpleasant step on the way to genuine respect and freedom...If you see what I mean.

D

Clare said...

I've emailed Diana Johnson calling her attention to the points you mentioned... first time emailing an MP, that was easy!

emma said...

http://childrenarepeople.blogspot.com/2009/06/dear-ms-johnson.html

*proud*

Firebird said...

And tomorrow the report itself. {deep breath} I think I should just chill tonight, watch the Springwatch web cams, knit, maybe make myself a Margarita, because sure as eggs is eggs tomorrow I'm going to be getting very stressed and very angry.

Ah, but in the afternoon we're doing flower arranging at the local group, maybe that'll help me get through the day without ripping anyone's head off :-)

Carlotta said...

Emma, Superb letter on yours. I do hope Diana Johnson gets to see it.

Thank you for everything about it...from setting her right on her consultation gaff, right through to pointing out the constitutional problems of her random use of the word "we".

And lol, Firebird. Tbh, have been somewhat edgy all day today, so I think you're doing well!

Anonymous said...

'Ms Johnson continues:

"even in those rare cases where their parents’ convictions conflict with their right to be educated...It would be rather extreme convictions. It would be a very small number of parents who did not want their children to be educated. It would be a very extreme belief or philosophy that made them follow that path, and the state would, rightly, have to take a view."

In those circumstances, the state would have a role, and they already have the powers they need to intervene in these cases. '

Without compulsory registration how would the state use their powers in these cases if the children were unknown to them, so do they really have the neccessary powers?
I know am playing devils advocate I know, but these questions do need to be answered dont they?

Carlotta said...

"Without compulsory registration how would the state use their powers in these cases if the children were unknown to them, so do they really have the neccessary powers?"

Do you honestly think that the seriously abusive parent will actually register?

As a result of compulsory registration, there'll be thousands of law-abiding HEors to check up on, all at great expense, all to no avail, and quite probably at the cost of some serious damage to at least some of these families, and all the while, the isolated abusive situation will just carry on, registration or no registration.