Friday, December 31, 2010

More from Kelly

...this time, on the significance of the struggle to home educate world-wide.

One conclusion:

"It is from a British base, I am convinced, that homelearning freedoms will be won back in Europe."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010

Things have been very quiet here but this is not for want of keeping an eye on things. Should there be a need - should the Department of Education suddenly find a spare pot of cash and decide they have nothing better to do with it than to hassle home educators, this place will fire up again.

In the meantime, Kelly has reviewed the most significant bits from 2010.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ken's at it again!

Lovely! And he will mention autonomous education soon, am quite sure of it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Still thinking about Autonomous Education!

I need a motivational self-talk just now, and what better way to re-energise myself (other than some balmy runs in the country, and some lovely friends), than to think about the theories of AE! This set of theories means the most to me in the whole wide world. They are beautiful in the way that the writings of great physicists are. They makes sense. They hang together, they fit the data, and they work and at times like this, when I could be so sad, it is my greatest consolation.

Elsewhere, (guess where, folks!), my attention has been drawn to the problem of knowing just exactly when one is coercing one's child and when one isn't. I mean, this can actually be a difficult problem, I think.

Take a child whose parent has offered an over-arching theory which makes sense to the child, but which results in the child adopting plenty of self-coercive theories in order to fulfill the over-arching theory with which she agrees. The parent doesn't have to do the coercion as the child will be doing it for themselves, so to speak.

Of course, this isn't AE, if one takes the definition of AE to be that a person is enacting the theory that is active in the mind (as opposed to being forced, or in this case, forcing themselves) to enact a theory that is not active...ie: is coerced. Setting an over-arching plan for the child, and leaving the child to do the rest: this is not AE, but a slow absconding with the being of another person.

How can one prevent such a scenario one wonders? Well, am not sure that the following suggestions are 100% reliable, but the parent can't do much more than to stick to these principles:

(Please don't think am being horribly preachy just here. This is really for me, a reminder and a pep talk., so to myself, I say....)
  • I won't have an over-arching plan for the children in my life
  • I'll make sure the theories I offer really are tentative...if they are good, the children will grok this
  • I'll be prepared to change my preferences
  • I'll help the child solve his problems so that he isn't subject to subtle self-coercion along the way, even if it is to fulfill his grand plan. (Coercion is never useful).
  • And of course, we'll seek common preferences...we'll go wild, be creative, seek other solutions we never dreamt possible.
How to tell if this is panning out? If my children can happily tell you they have lost interest in something, (frick, do they do this!) then I do probably have it right!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Friday, October 08, 2010

Proposed new guidance?

Everyone PLEASE NOTE: Gill has the answer to the conflicts that current education law presents.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Home Education and Aspergers

A totally credible article about the misery experienced by some children at school and the salvation that can be achieved through home education.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

India's Self-Taught Children

Thanks Bishop for the link to Sugata Mitra's TED talk.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Friday, September 03, 2010

Not Back to School Picnic

...in Sheffield, reported upon here at 0.32.30 mins.

Oxford Home Schooling on Waterloo Road

Suffice it to say that this is a fairly measured response to the caricatural and actually totally inaccurate portrayal of home education in this country, most comments being along the lines of "What utter drivel".

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Lord Soley from Lords of the Blog

...is at it again. Home educators provide cogent replies in comments, having actually read the Serious Case Review, and the judges summaries - unlike many others.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Emma Thompson Home Educates

...at least for a year. Yay, but honestly, you'd have thought she was committing some terrible crime, the way the authorities have reacted.

And no, you don't have to convince the authorities that you will provide a suitable education when you deregister. You just have to hand in a letter.

Here's the deal: in law, parents are responsible for ensuring that their children receive a suitable education. The state only has to step in after the event, if it a suitable education isn't happening.

UPDATE: here's Kelly on the story.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Why autonomous education works

Oh goodness me. I promised not to rise to this, but autonomous education is being so appallingly traduced in another arena, that it seemed irresponsible not to, and I have firmly promised myself that I will maintain some basic standards and ground-rules in the process.

It has been said (by a consistent and to date, impervious critic of autonomous education) that there is little evidence that it works. In fact, in comments, this critic goes further. He claims there is active evidence that it positively doesn't work and supports this claim by citing the article:

'Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching'

Having considerably less time than I used to have, I haven't read anything other than the synopsis of this article, but this alone is sufficient to ascertain that it is not a criticism of autonomous education. It is instead, a criticism of the neglectful form of education which, well, let's face it, does seem likely to fail.

However, autonomous education and neglect are not one and the same thing. Indeed autonomous educators frequently spend quite a lot of their time offering guidance. Guidance, in the form of the offer of tentatively held theories, is not precluded by the practice of autonomous education. What is precluded is coercion.

Coercion is defined by many UK HEors (and others who are concerned with the subject) as "being forced to enact a theory that is not active in the mind". Conversely, this simply means that autonomous education is learning with the theory active in the mind. This is the defining essence of autonomous education and means that it can happen in highly structured situations, where the individual is being taught in entirely pedagogical fashion, or when the learner is getting on with what he is doing entirely by himself.

Given this oft-repeated error about AE, (ie: the one about confusing AE with neglect), it is worth spelling it out all over again: an autonomous educator would be failing in their task if they were to fail to offer theories when a child wanted them.

As to the evidence that AE works? One group we used to attend was largely made up of much older autonomously educated children. I saw a lot of them again last week. Aside from the three who have gone to or are going to Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial, all the others are now either in some other university/college or work and all are happily doing what they want to do.

I personally don't feel the need to trawl for irrelevant scholarly articles on the internet to be certain that that autonomous education actually works.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Quick Mention

David Friedman on "Anarchy and Efficient Law" touches upon the subject of HEing in California right at the beginning of this talk.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

From the Guardian

Thank goodness some people are talking sense.

Alan Thomas and Harriet Pattison:

"Evidence including our own suggests strongly that this kind of education (home education) prepares children to enter further and higher education, or the workforce – and offers them the freedom to learn in the ways that suit them best. Yet there is a consistent failure on the part of local authorities and government reviews to grasp even the basis of the ideas that can underlie a different kind of education. Even the language of the serious case review demonstrates this failure of understanding. Small wonder that home-educating parents are afraid of conferring power on people who do not know what it is that they are judging."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Free Maths Sites

Smart kiddie maths, KS2 and 3, free for a year here.

The Khan Academy videos, most levels of school maths, plus biology and history.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Maggie Atkinson under Review

Here's an idea. Don't bother with a review. Just get rid of her. She never represented anyone else's views other than her own and these were frankly terrible: bullying, statist, interventionist.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Press Release from Graham Stuart

NEWS RELEASE
June 17th, 2010

Ofsted Home Education Report Seriously Flawed Says Graham Stuart MP

Graham Stuart MP, who last week was elected to take the Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, today condemned Ofsted’s report on home education, “Local Authorities and Home Education” as “an unpleasant hangover of the last government: a manifesto for more state power at the expense of dedicated home educators and their children”.

Mr Stuart went on, “It is astonishing that the Chief Inspector of Schools should stray onto home education and get it so wrong. In Ofsted’s official press release she says that “it is extremely challenging for local authorities to meet their statutory duty to ensure children have a suitable education”, when they have no such duty. Parents, not the state, have the statutory duty to ensure that their children have a suitable education.

“I find it deeply concerning that, after months of work, the Chief Inspector should make such a basic mistake and so utterly confuse the duties of local authorities and parents. Parents who home educate deserve our respect and awe at their dedication and achievements, not the relentless suspicion of an over mighty state.”

Under section 436A of the Education Act 1996, inserted by the Education and Inspections Act 2006, local authorities have a duty to identify children who are not receiving a suitable education in their area, so far as it is practical to do so. As the 2007 Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities make clear, however, ‘local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis’ and are only required to intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education.

Mr Stuart went on, “As local authorities do not have the power to demand access to home educated children and cannot insist on parents registering with them, the obvious and correct answer is for local authorities to improve their support for families so that more families make contact with them voluntarily. If they did this and made sure that they employed sympathetic staff who built good reputations, then the number of “unknown” children would be reduced. Such a positive approach would respect the primacy of parents in determining the education of their children and put the onus on local authorities to serve and support, rather than catalogue and monitor, families who home educate.

“Ofsted’s report has little to say about improving local authority support for home educated children and says only that the Department of Education should “consider” funding an entitlement for home-educated children to take public examinations. Ofsted’s report is seriously flawed and damaging to the confidence of home educating parents who had hoped that the relentless disinformation and bullying of the previous regime was over.”

It's covered here in CYPNow.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

So much for funding

...for 14 to 16 year olds. Far Out Crowd has the story of what really happens.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Coalition Approach to Education

...will be outlined in the Queen's Speech in May.

More free schools, more familial choice, but all held properly accountable.

(Have just undergone an inspection process in work. Overall it is not helpful, and the final mark which is the only thing most people take note of, does not adequately represent the issues).

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Demise of the DSCF

Posted by Picasa
To be replaced at least in part, by the Department for Education.

No wonder the incoming government felt they needed a fresh start. From the Guardian:

"Last year, the then schools secretary, Ed Balls, was accused of wasting money on a £3m makeover of the DCSF. This was said to include shipping designer furniture from Italy and installing a grand staircase made from glass and surgical steel. It came at a time when he needed to make £2bn in savings.


(HT: Jem for the button).
"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Home Education and the Coalition

...according to Lord Lucas and here's more on the Great Repeal Bill from Douglas Carswell.

Also, the perspective on the current situation from across the pond, from Kelly Green and Gold and The Slog on the departure of Brown and his minions. My sentiments precisely.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Friday, May 07, 2010

News from Graham Stuart MP

From GS's Twitter: He has just spoken to Nick Gibb and confirms that the Tories will not introduce registration and monitoring.

(Where's the heart symbol on blogger, I wonder?)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

College Funding for 14 - 16 year olds

Finally, the DCSF has confirmed that LAs can recoup the money! See here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Wonderful Story about Home Education in the TES

...here.

The subject tells us that she has been misquoted in a couple of places but the story is nonetheless typical of many home education stories.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Voting in the HE Community

From yesterday's letter from Balls to Michael Gove:

"It is our very clear intention to ensure that all the measures you have rejected are included in a new bill in the first session of the new Parliament."

Putting aside the awful possibility that Balls is still thinking about the leadership, a Labour or Lib/Lab government is still a thing greatly to be feared. It rather looks as if many HEors will be working to make quite sure this doesn't happen.

Schedule 1 of CSF Bill Formally Voted Out

From Hansard:

"
Clauses 19 to 26 disagreed."

"Clause 27 : Power of National Assembly for Wales to make provision by Measure

Debate on whether Clause 27 should stand part of the Bill.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, we on these Benches regret that the Government wish not to proceed with Clause 27, which grants the framework power which would have allowed the National Assembly for Wales to regulate home education in its own way. While we are quite in favour of withdrawing Clause 26, which was unworkable and did not have general support, we believe that home education is a matter which should be devolved to the National Assembly. We on these Benches would rather have left the clause in the Bill, but we shall not oppose its removal tonight.

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: I do not wish to detain the House any further. The House is aware of the discussions that have taken place as part of wash-up, in which we agreed that we would oppose stand part.

=========================

EO's Press Release here.


Clause 27 disagreed."

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

For Sure

It WON'T HAPPEN! (CANT SPEAK FOR JOY).

And here with added spin, from the DCSF.


Posted by Picasa

Clause 26 and Schedule 1 are on the way out.

Update on the wash-up, (which should be viewable at some stage here.)

Clause 26 of the CSF Bill, along with Schedule 1 appear to be on the way out, if these amendments are to be believed.

"BARONESS MORGAN OF DREFELIN

LORD LUCAS

The above-named Lords give notice of their intention to oppose the Question that Clause 26 stand part of the Bill.


Schedule 1

BARONESS MORGAN OF DREFELIN

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin gives notice of her intention to oppose the Question that Schedule 1 stand part of the Bill"

The BBC seems to confirm that this is the case.

===============

UPDATE: Letter from Balls to Michael Gove, which was on line but the relevant site appears to be experiencing difficulties:

Letter to Michael Gove on the Children, Schools and Families Bill

07/Apr/2010

"Below is my letter to the shadow schools secretary Michael Gove on the Children, Schools and Families Bill. Many of the important provisions in this Bill have had to be dropped because the Conservatives have refused to allow them to go forward.

Dear Michael,

I want to put on record my deep regret that you have not been prepared to support key measures in the Children, Schools and Families Bill including; guaranteed 1 to 1 tuition for children who fall behind; compulsory home school agreements so all parents support our teachers to keep discipline; statutory PSHE including sex and relationships and financial education; and proper protection for home educated children.

It is our very clear intention to ensure that all the measures you have rejected are included in a new bill in the first session of the new Parliament.

I believe that every child falling behind in English and maths should be guaranteed the small group and one to one support they need to catch up and make progress so that they are secure in the basics and ready to learn in secondary school. Such tailored support should no longer be the preserve of the wealthy and privileged few but a core component of the curriculum. I am deeply disappointed that you do not agree.

Schools have clear statutory powers to discipline pupils for bad behaviour that occurs in school or on the way to and from school. We have given schools the power to search pupils for weapons and other items without pupils consent, and all school staff members have the legal power to use reasonable force both to prevent a crime or injury and to maintain good order and discipline amongst pupils. Our measures to strengthen Home School Agreements would give schools new and stronger powers to ensure all parents support schools to maintain good behaviour including the possibility of a court-imposed parenting order. As behaviour expert Sir Alan Steer reported recently “It is important that schools have the confidence of knowing that they operate within a legal system that supports their endeavours and that both parents and schools know that the use of a parenting order is a possibility”. I believe parents and the profession will be extremely concerned and disappointed at your refusal to back teachers and headteachers.

The reforms to the school curriculum in the Bill would ensure that children and young people are equipped with the knowledge and skills they, and future employers, want and need. The reforms to the Primary curriculum following Sir Jim Rose’s extensive expert review will provide greater flexibility for schools to tailor teaching to the needs and interests of their children while also focusing on the basics of literacy, numeracy and ICT. These proposed changes have been widely welcomed by primary schools across the country, and many Heads and teachers will be disappointed by your refusal to support them.

I am especially disappointed that, despite our conversation yesterday, you could not agree to make PSHE statutory in all state-funded schools. There is now widespread agreement that statutory PSHE is essential to prepare young people for adult life, and our reforms would ensure that by reducing the age of parental opt-out to 15, all children receive at least one year of compulsory sex and relationship education (SRE).

There is a large body of evidence showing that good SRE leads to young people taking greater responsibility and waiting longer to have their first sexual experience and thus reduced teenage pregnancy rates. It is because of this the provisions of the Bill had received such significant support in Parliament and more broadly across the sector, with faith groups and with parents.

As I explained yesterday, your insistence that parents should have a right to withdraw their children until they reach the age of 16 – the age at which they are in many respects considered adults – makes it impossible for us to proceed. Both British and European case law do not support an opt-out up to the age of 16. As I explained when we discussed yesterday, that amendment would have meant that the bill would not have been compliant with the ECHR. Your insistence that the age limit must be increased to 16 would have made the entire bill non-compliant with UK and European law and, therefore, our lawyers advised me that, as Secretary of State, I had no choice but to remove all the PSHE provisions.

This is a very significant set back, which will deny many young people proper and balanced sex and relationships education. I also strongly disagree with your insistence that children and young people attending academies should be excluded.

It is also very disappointing that your refusal to allow us to proceed to make PSHE statutory will set back our plans to ensure that all pupils receive high quality financial education from 2011.

I was very surprised that you have opposed all of our provisions to drive further and sustained school improvement. The provisions taken out of the bill today on school improvement partners; intervention powers and the school report card are the building blocks for a world class 21st century schooling system that meets the needs of every pupil so they can achieve their full potential. They would also provide parents with the information that they tell us they need to make informed decisions with their children about the future and the removal of these provisions prevents us from delivering the fairer system of accountability we have promised to schools.

Improving teaching underpins the best possible education for all pupils, and the proposed licence to practise would have firmly established the professional standing of the workforce and provided teachers with the status they deserve alongside a contractual entitlement to CPD. I am sorry you do not agree.

Finally, you and your colleagues have been clear about your opposition to the proposed registration scheme for home educators. I do believe this is profoundly misguided and will put children at risk in the future. We have always been clear that the vast majority of home educators do a good job and that they have nothing to fear from the proposals we brought forward. However, without our reforms the small minority of children at risk will remain so. By opposing these provisions you have removed a potentially valuable tool for local authorities in their work to safeguard all children.

I understand that in some instances there are issues of principle that divide us. And I also recognise that, following the decision by the shadow Chancellor not to protect the schools budget this year, you have to find a very hefty and immediate cut to the DCSF budget in 2010-11, which the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates at £1.7bn. But I do believe the interests of children would have been better served had you agreed to these provisions reaching the statute book. Your refusal means the loss of a number of key provisions that would have made a significant difference to the lives of children and their families.

It is a great pity that you have put at risk improvements in our schools, support for pupils and the well-being of our young people. I will be campaigning to ensure that this Government is returned and that these measures do make it on the statute book in the first session of the new Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

ED BALLS MP


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The CSF Bill at the Wash Up Tomorrow

As far as we understand it, this scheduling is in fact the Wash Up for the CSF Bill.

More details, courtesy of EO:

It will be a very busy day in the Lords with the CSF Bill last on the agenda.

It doesn't seem as though the Lords will be on TV live and there may only be edited highlights available afterwards, here and here.

However, you can read “Today in the Lords” from 3 hours after the event with the Full Report appearing in Hansard at 8am the following morning.

Tomorrow, Thursday 8th April will be “ping-pong” where the Commons considers any amendments from the Lords.

Parliament will then be prorogued and any further business will be decided between the Front Bench Opposition and the Government.

We don't know what will happen but should know something by the end of the week at the latest.

Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons and House of Lords have consistently opposed the CSF Bill and the home education measures in particular and we are told that the Conservative Shadow Spokesperson for Children Schools and Families reiterated their commitment yesterday to ensuring that the home education proposals would not pass into law.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Writing Reports for Mr Balls

It is not just home educators who question the veracity of Graham Badman's reports, it seems.

Forget the Mendacity, feel the Incompetence

...from the Slog:

"Ed Balls wants to be Chancellor, but says that the Tories must now raise VAT. This is because Balls can't add up, and doesn't read anything or listen to anyone. He simply shouts and tweets."

Yep. Home educators know this too.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Will the CSF Bill Kill Children?

Thanks are due to the person who pointed out to me that my contention that children will be damaged by Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill has been contested by a supporter of the Bill. I don't want to get bogged down in unproductive debate with this particular individual who has repeatedly demonstrated an incapacity to argue with a due respect for reality, the rules of logic or with much integrity, but I am prepared to address at least one of his points.

My basic argument is this: if LAs and/or courts are given any greater powers to override parental/familial autonomy with regard to determining the place of education, children who are not suited to school-based education will be forced into schools and will suffer, and some will die as a result.

This for those of us who have known and acknowledged the terrible pain of many schooled children, isn't an unreasonable contention. For everyone else who trivialises the impact of the damage caused by schools, I am sorry but I just can't be bothered to argue this point just now, mostly because I think it likely that the trivialisation of school trauma is such a norm and a heftily entrenched meme amongst school advocates and others, that anything other than the most protracted explanations/investigations/epiphanic moments is unlikely to shift this.

What remains at issue however, is whether the CSF bill will actually override parental autonomy with regard to the determining of the place of education. It is perfectly understandable that there might have been some disagreement over whether the new system for School Attendance Orders (which would result from the overlaying of the CSF Bill) would result in further removal of parental/familial autonomy to decide the place of education, as there is considerable ambiguity about how the re-writing of s437 will play out.

From the relevant sections of the Bill:

"(B1) The authority shall serve a notice in writing on the child’s parent requiring the parent to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is either—

(a) receiving suitable education provided wholly or partly by regular attendance at school, or otherwise than at school under section 19,

(b) registered on their home education register, or

(c) in the area of another authority and registered on that authority’s home education register.

Don't be fooled by the bit about section 19 in B1(a) since this only applies to children whose education is funded by local authorities out of school.

B1(b) and (c) seem to imply that a child must already be on their own or another LA's home education register when the LA make a written request to the parent giving them 'x' days notice to demonstrate that this is the case.

Should the parent fail to demonstrate either a, b or c, an SAO will be issued.

The only possible get-out clause: that a family might be able to scramble an acceptance onto the LA's home education register within the time frame that an LA sets out in the notice, but it is by no means clear that this would be possible and given the ambiguity and the intent behind the law, which is surely to frighten home educators into registering, LAs are almost certain to opt for the first interpretation, ie: if you aren't already on a register...boomf, an SAO is coming your way soon.

From the DCSF's Policy Statement on Schedule 1, (para 18), it seems unlikely that a family will be able to do such scrambling, since it appears that new HEors will only have 20 days to apply to register, whilst HEors who have been in the business a long time will only have three months in which to apply.

It therefore seems highly unlikely that there will be a chance for home educating families to argue that whilst they aren't registered, they are still actually providing a suitable education outside of school.

If the notice runs out before the family can demonstrate that they are on the home education register and the LA think it expedient that the child attend school, the authority shall serve a school attendance order. In considering whether it is expedient that a child should attend school:

"(3B)...an authority shall disregard any education being provided to the child as a home-educated child."

Hmm...so even less chance that a family can get out of jail (I mean school) free then?

So, given that the SAO has been issued, what should a family with a child who would fail in school then do? Most will not dare to face court, (given that the penalty for being found guilty is likely to be a hefty fine, "not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale" - whatever that means) and will therefore probably just accede to authority, and try to cope with all the suffering that this will entail for their child.

On the other hand, if such a family do dig in their heels, what then? At this point, we must look to the re-write of s443.

443 Offence: failure to comply with school attendance order

(A1) A parent on whom a school attendance order is served in respect of a child by a local authority in England, and who fails to comply with the requirements of the order, is guilty of an offence unless —

(a) the parent proves that he is causing the child to receive suitable education, otherwise than at school, under section 19

(b) the child is registered on the authority’s home education register, or

(c) the parent proves that the child is in the area of another authority, and the child is registered on that authority’s home education register.

This seems to make it clear that the courts in England at least are not allowed to consider the nature of suitability of education (again do not be fooled by A1a as this only applies to Section 19 children). Unless the parent is still able to set about getting the child on the register, even at this late stage, my original contention that a parent will have no defence regarding suitability of educational provision in court does indeed appear to stand.

In which case, supporters of the CSF Bill - children will suffer and some will indeed die because of it.

UPDATE:

For other reasons why the CSF Bill will kill children, see Firebird's comment below.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It isn't just home educators

...who are feeling the pain of the police state. Witness this post from The Conservative Blog.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why forcing children back into school can be very, very dangerous

Update on yesterday's mail:

I forgot to mention that some HE children are removed from school because the school hadn't managed their health problems well. In our group alone, there are children whose asthma, peanut allergies and diabetes which were either not well managed or would have been very diffcult to manage in school.

When you read terrible stories such as this one, you can understand why parents of such children could be terrified at the prospect of an insensitive inspector forcing children back into school.

And then of course there are all these other reasons.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To all supporters of Schedule 1

...of the CSF bill, Deech, Soley, Badman, Ed Balls, Simon Webb, whoever you may be. Be very aware that by forcing children, either because of some administrative error on the part of parents, or because an ignorant LA officer says so and without any chance to offer a defence in court, back into school, you will almost certainly have blood on your hands.

I personally know of three children who were withdrawn from school because they threatened to commit suicide. I know of two more who were self-harming. An older sibling of another HE child who had been bullied appallingly at school did commit suicide before his parents realised that HE was an option. Death, self-harming, anorexia and other long-term negative mental health sequelae...these will be your legacy.

From my own personal experience of the damage that school can inflict: three out of the 20 or so of us in my house in my year suffered from anorexia, one of them very severely. They were all fine before they went to that school. There were many other smiling depressives, and pupils who ended up with personality disorders of one sort or another, usually narcissism. At least one of the anorexics has nearly died of the disorder many times during her life so far. She is also sterile. Many of the others who suffered less severly said that their symptoms resolved the moment they walked out of the place. Am thinking this is unlikely to be a coincidence.

(Please note, I loved my junior school...I am objective about how people react to situations - unlike some others, it seems.)

School and the schooling model can be EXTREMELY DAMAGING. Get that into your tiny minds, all ye who have never suffered as a result of it. Turn on that part of your brains which appears to have got stuck in the "school is the answer" meme, turn on the ability to imagine how it might be for others who do not thrive in it and turn on the ability to imagine a better way forward for such people.

Well DUH!

Oh dear, a theme is emerging. I just can't be bothered to find a more descriptive title for recent blog posts, what with the welter of rubbish that heads our way.

Apparently,
five out of 37 home educated children in the Merton area are not receiving a satisfactory education.

Hmm. And what criteria are they using precisely? Well, first off, we hear, courtesy of a council spokeswoman, that home education is checked by a "qualified school inspector".

Merton councillors, you really do need your heads seeing to. You wouldn't ask an unqualified lay person to provide testimony on the efficacy of a brain surgeon. Why on earth should home educators be inspected by someone who is not only not trained in the subject, but is trained in another entirely different subject but who appears to think the second is the same as the first?

Really, "duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhh" is the only sensible reaction at this point, though I could throw in that I really, really don't want anyone that thick coming anywhere near my family.

Merton confirm their error by talking about the need for a "curriculum". Oh just bog off. Sorry, have lost all patience.

Ok, in calmer mood, here it is - our curriculum that is: the children in our family follow their interests. We, the parents, help them pursue these. We offer our best theories which the children are free to critique and reject if they see fit. We seek common preferences and the children learn without coercion. Unsurprisingly, for those who have seen this process all the way through, this works to create responsible adults.

There, that's our "curriculum". Don't suppose that is good enough for Merton though.

Meanwhile from Birmingham

"Birmingham City Council still in deep denial over Khyra Ishaq tragedy".

"Mrs King's (the judge's) judgment in Family Court proceedings totally demolishes the council's claim that nothing more could have been done to save Khyra because her mother had withdrawn her from school to educate her at home.

This was the line relied upon by Birmingham children's director Tony Howell and cabinet member Les Lawrence, who told a media briefing that legislation giving parents the right to withdraw children from school gave local authorities no powers to enter houses to inspect the arrangements for schooling at home.

In fact, as Mrs Justice King points out, the council had sufficient powers under the Children Act to enter the house where Khyra was being held."

UPDATE

News in the Telegraph of the crippled social services department in Birmingham. We have been saying it all along. Social services are woefully underfunded and not just in Birmingham and there would be no point wasting money on a universal inspection service of all HEors when social services can't even manage families known to be at risk.



DCSF Announce Research into HE

...to start in April 2010.

This is what Civitas has to say about government priorities.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Honestly!

Any passing DCSF person reading this: no home educator was coerced to write a response to any consultation. Everyone replied of their own free will. If some people directly copied responses they had read elsewhere, it is highly likely that they did so because they completely agreed with what is being said. It does not invalidate what they said. They said it because they meant it.

Do not continue to discount what was said with some oblique suggestion that people were jostled unwillingly into responding. The strength of feeling against the proposals in the Children, Schools and Families Bill is very, very real. Home educators know that children could well die as a result of them.

Rate your Local Authority Elective Home Education Staff

...here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Schooling Turns Pupils Off Learning

...says Professor of Education Policy at Newcastle. It seems he is right.

So what's new, home educators might well ask? We have been saying as much for about a decade or so now.

Well for one thing, articles like the ones above point to the inequity of holding only home educators to account over the issue of the provision of a suitable education.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Update on CSF Bill

From Education Otherwise:

Government runs out of time to change law on home education.

Last night the House of Lords debated the Children Schools and Families Bill at Second Reading. You can watch the recording of the debate here, (18.41 - 22.20pm) or read the transcript here in Hansard.

A number of peers made reference to the fact that the Bill will not reach Committee stage, ie the Government has run out of time. The opposition front bench has already made it quite clear that the home education parts of the Bill will not survive the wash-up.

===========

Lord Lucas has much the same message.

Monday, March 08, 2010

From Smug Home Educating Bxxxxxd

After a spate of personal experiences involving negative assumptions about home education on the part of people who know absolutely nothing about it, I have been thinking I should be getting back to basics and should be explaining all over again why home education - particularly the autonomous sort - is so great. However, Grit has saved me the trouble.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Saturday, March 06, 2010

NSPCC says Social Workers should have automatic powers

...to see the child alone. From the Rocket News:

"But Unison, the union that represents most social workers, believes this proposal is not needed.

Helga Pile of Unison said: "We don’t believe there is a need for this duty to be put in place… we fear this could be a blunt instrument and be too heavy-handed.

"There are powers for social workers to get a court order or involve the police if they need to see a child alone, but in many other cases they won’t want to have to go in with this insistence that they see the child at that stage."

Now here's an idea for the government. How about actually listening to the people who actually do the work and know what they are talking about, ie: social workers and you might as well include home educators in that too whilst you're about it.

Social workers understand that families will know that they have draconian powers, and that they risk losing every last ounce of co-operation from families. They know that such powers will put them in an even harder place as they try to balance having the co-operation of the family with the pressure from government to see the child.

And they might as well also know right now that that they will almost certainly lose any hope of co-operation from home educators who will probably just tell their children to be honest about their feelings and just tell these unnecessary interlopers to bog off and that they have nothing else to say.

(This from a mother who, without any rose-tinted glasses on, has seen her daughter be polite, well-mannered, kind, considerate and witty all day and who really doesn't want to have to tell her to behave so rudely, but in the current circumstances, if an NSPCC person turned up on our doorstep, I would say she is perfectly free and within her natural rights to behave as curtly as possible).

A way for a young person to see the world

...very, very cheaply.

Home educated Jack talks about his experiences here.

Barry on the APPG with the Lords

Here.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Report from the Lords APPG

available here.

Fifth of primary school pupils 'failing' in English and maths

So how does this square? Are the local authority going to interview all these failing schooled children alone, in their own homes, to determine that they are receiving an unsuitable education, and then, well yes, then what? Issue a Home Education Attendance Order? An HEAO.

It wouldn't make a jot of difference if the school protests or takes the case to court since the courts will be instructed to ignore all representations from the school and just take it on the word of the inspector.

Yes, that would seem only fair under the circumstances.

On Costing Schedule 1

Diana Johnson is still peddling wild under-estimates here.

"We estimate that the cost of the registration and monitoring proposals for home-educated children will be around £26.3 million in the first year and £14.6 million in subsequent years, based on 20,000 home-educated children. We do not have figures available yet for allocations below national level. We will develop detailed funding methodologies for local authority allocations after discussion with the Local Government Association and local authorities."

At least the £14.6 million is a revision in the right direction. In October 2009, they quoted £9.7 million for follow-up years.

Michael Crawshaw's conclusion still stands.

"Don’t be distracted by the spuriously accurate figure of £9.7m. This barely scratches the surface. We stand by our central estimate of £100-300m costs pa - to address a problem that simply isn’t there."

Thursday, March 04, 2010

It wasn't for want of the necessary powers

Social services had all the powers they needed. It was simply the fact that they didn't use them.

From the Birmingham Post:

"Lawrence and children’s director Tony Howell can bleat all they want, the truth is that their carefully hatched plot to pass on the blame for Khyra’s death has been exposed for what it is – a cynical, self-serving smokescreen.

A week ago, the pair told a press conference there was nothing more that could have been done by social services or education officials to save Khyra.

This was because Khyra had been removed from school by her mother to be educated at home, and under English law local councils have no right to demand entry to a house in order to make sure a child really is being educated.

That is true, but totally irrelevant in this case, and it didn’t take Mrs Justice King, the judge presiding over care proceedings involving Khyra’s brothers and sisters, to see through such a ludicrous excuse. As Mrs Justice King pointed out, social workers could at any time have insisted on seeing Khyra, talking to her in depth and conducting an initial assessment, they simply chose not to do so.

One of the great unanswered questions surrounding the Khyra Ishaq case is why the council became sidetracked on the issue of her education, when common sense should have suggested that information from teachers about the state of Khyra and her siblings – always thin, cold and so hungry – warranted a full social services investigation.

Another question is which bright spark dreamt up the home education excuse, and why on earth did anyone think the council would get away with it?

Presumably the assumption was that once Khyra’s mother and stepfather pleaded guilty to manslaughter and there was no need for a trial, the full details of social services’ incompetence would never emerge.

Perhaps Coun Lawrence and Mr Howell did not read Mrs Justice King’s coruscating assessment, or maybe they assumed the report would never come into the public domain?"

There's more from Paul Dale here.

"BIRMINGHAM social services bosses might have saved Khyra Ishaq if they had used powers available under the Children Act.

Under sections 10 and 11 of the 2004 Act, local authorities can insist on seeing children in order to enquire about their welfare.

Judge Mrs Justice King, in her ruling on care proceedings for Khyra’s five brothers and sisters, makes the point that if social services had conducted a proper initial assessment, and gained entry to the Leyton Road house in Handsworth, they would have discovered the appalling treatment meted out to the children.

Birmingham children’s director Tony Howell told a press briefing that strict rules preventing local authorities from gaining access to children being educated at home prevented the council from entering the house.

But the council could also have used powers under the 1996 Education Act to intervene “if it appears” that parents are not providing a suitable education.

By serving a notice under Section 437(1) of the Act, Mr Howell could have required Khyra’s parents to “satisfy the local education authority that the child is receiving suitable education”. He did not do so.

If the council was not satisfied that proper educational arrangements were in place, it could have served an order requiring Khyra to return to school.

Read the full court documents here"

Please pass this on to any Lord who might have half a mind to listen to sense.

There's more from the Stirrer and the Birmingham Mail.

Ali Moir does very well from 14 mins into the Danny Pike show.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

What SAOs would look like if the CSF Bill were to pass

New sections from the CSF Bill are in blue. Deletions from old s437 etc are in yellow.

From Schedule 1 of CSF Bill:

437: School attendance orders (SAOs).


(A1) Subsection (B1) applies if —

(a) it appears to a local authority in England that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, and

(b) the child does not appear to the authority to be a home-educated child.

(B1) The authority shall serve a notice in writing on the child’s parent requiring the parent to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is either—

(a) receiving suitable education provided wholly or partly by regular attendance at school, or otherwise than at school under section 19,

(b) registered on their home education register, or

(c) in the area of another authority and registered on that authority’s home education register.

(1) If it appears to a local education authority in Wales that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.

(2) The period specified in a notice under this section shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.

(3) If —

(a) a parent on whom a notice has been served under subsection (B1) or (1) fails to satisfy the local education authority as specified in the notice, within the period specified in the notice, that the child is receiving suitable education, and

(b) in the opinion of the authority it is expedient that the child should attend school, and

(c) in the case of a notice served under subsection (B1), the child does not appear to the authority to be a home-educated child,

the authority shall serve a school attendance order on the parent on the parent an order (referred to in this Act as a “school attendance order”), in such form as may be prescribed, requiring him to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order

(3A) If it appears to a local authority in England—

(a) that a child of compulsory school age in their area is a home-educated child, but is not registered on their home education register, and

(b) that it is expedient that the child should attend school,

the authority shall serve a school attendance order on the child’s parent.

(3B) In determining for the purposes of subsection (3A)(b) whether it is expedient that a child should attend school, an authority shall disregard any education being provided to the child as a home-educated child.

(4) A school attendance order shall (subject to any amendment made by the local education authority) continue in force for so long as the child is of compulsory school age, unless—

(a) it is revoked by the authority, or

(b) a direction is made in respect of it under section 443(2) or 447(5).

(5) Where a maintained or grant-maintained school is named in a school attendance order, the local education authority shall inform the governing body and the head teacher.

(6) Where a maintained or grant-maintained school is named in a school attendance order, the governing body (and, in the case of a maintained school, the local education authority) shall admit the child to the school.

(7) Subsection (6) does not affect any power to exclude from a school a pupil who is already a registered pupil there.

(8) In this Chapter —

· “maintained school” means any county or voluntary school or any maintained special school which is not established in a hospital; and

· “suitable education”, in relation to a child, means efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have.

(9) In this Act “school attendance order” means an order, in such form as may be prescribed, served on a child’s parent under this section and requiring the parent to cause the child to become a registered pupil at a school named in the order.

438 Choice of school: child without statement of special educational needs

1) This section applies where a local education authority are required by virtue of section 437(3) or (3A) to serve a school attendance order in respect of a child, other than a child for whom they maintain a statement under section 324.

(2) Before serving the order, the authority shall serve on the parent a notice in writing —

(a) informing him of their intention to serve the order,

(b) specifying the school which the authority intend to name in the order and, if they think fit, one or more other schools which they regard as suitable alternatives, and

(c) stating the effect of subsections (3) to (6).

(3) If the notice specifies one or more alternative schools and the parent selects one of them within the period of 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served, the school selected by him shall be named in the order.

(4) If —

(a) within the period mentioned in subsection (3) —

(i) the parent applies for the child to be admitted to a school maintained by a local education authority and, where that authority are not the authority by whom the notice was served, notifies the latter authority of the application, or

(ii) the parent applies for the child to be admitted to a grant-maintained school and notifies the authority by whom the notice was served of the application, and

(b) the child is offered a place at the school as a result of the application,

that school shall be named in the order.

(5) If —

(a) within the period mentioned in subsection (3), the parent applies to the local education authority by whom the notice was served for education to be provided for the child at a school which is not maintained by a local education authority and is not a grant-maintained school, and

(b) the child is offered a place at the school under arrangements made by the authority under which the fees payable in respect of the education provided at the school are to be paid by them under section 517,

that school shall be named in the order.

(6) If, within the period mentioned in subsection (3) —

(a) the parent —

(i) applies for the child to be admitted to a school which is not maintained by a local education authority and is not a grant-maintained school, and in respect of which no application is made under subsection (5), and

(ii) notifies the local education authority by whom the notice was served of the application,

(b) the child is offered a place at the school as a result of the application, and

(c) the school is suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have,

that school shall be named in the order.

439 Specification of schools in notices under section 438(2)

(1) Subject to subsection (3), a local education authority shall not, if it appears to them that subsection (2) applies in relation to any school, specify the school in a notice under section 438(2) unless they are responsible for determining the arrangements for the admission of pupils to the school.

(2) This subsection applies where, if the child concerned were admitted to the school in accordance with a school attendance order resulting from the notice, the number of pupils at the school in the child’s age group would exceed the number fixed—

(a) in the case of a maintained school, in accordance with section 416, or

(b) in the case of a grant-maintained school, in accordance with sections 426 to 428,

as the number of pupils in that age group which it is intended to admit to the school in the school year in which he would be admitted.

(3) Subsection (1) does not prevent a local education authority specifying in a notice under section 438(2) any maintained or grant-maintained school if—

(a) there is no maintained or grant-maintained school in their area which—

(i) the authority are not (apart from this subsection) prevented by subsection (1) from specifying, and

(ii) is, in the opinion of the authority, a reasonable distance from the home of the child concerned, and

(b) in the opinion of the authority, the school in question is a reasonable distance from the home of the child concerned.

(4) A local education authority shall not specify in a notice under section 438(2) a school from which the child concerned is permanently excluded.

(5) Before deciding to specify a particular maintained or grant-maintained school in a notice under section 438(2) a local education authority shall consult —

(a) the governing body, and

(b) if another local education authority are responsible for determining the arrangements for the admission of pupils to the school, that authority.

(6) Where a local education authority decide to specify a particular maintained or grant-maintained school in a notice under section 438(2) they shall, before serving the notice, serve notice in writing of their decision on—

(a) the governing body and head teacher of the school, and

(b) if another local education authority are responsible for determining the arrangements for the admission of pupils to the school, that authority.

(7) A governing body or local education authority on whom notice is served under subsection (6) may, within the period of 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice was received, apply to the Secretary of State for a direction under this section and, if they do so, shall inform the local education authority which served the notice.

(8) Where the Secretary of State gives a direction under this section, the school or schools to be specified in the notice under section 438(2) shall be determined in accordance with the direction.

440 Amendment of order at request of parent: child without statement of special educational needs

(1) This section applies where a school attendance order is in force in respect of a child, other than a child for whom the local education authority maintain a statement under section 324.

(2) If at any time—

(a) the parent applies for the child to be admitted to a school maintained by a local education authority or grant-maintained school which is different from the school named in the order,

(b) the child is offered a place at the school as a result of the application, and

(c) the parent requests the local education authority by whom the order was served to amend it by substituting that school for the one currently named,

the authority shall comply with the request.

(3) If at any time—

(a) the parent applies to the authority for education to be provided for the child at a school which is not maintained by a local education authority or a grant-maintained school and which is different from the school named in the order,

(b) the child is offered a place at the school under arrangements made by the authority under which the fees payable in respect of the education provided at the school are to be paid by them under section 517, and

(c) the parent requests the authority to amend the order by substituting that school for the one currently named,

the authority shall comply with the request.

(4) If at any time —

(a) the parent applies for the child to be admitted to a school which is not maintained by a local education authority and is not a grant-maintained school, which is different from the school named in the order and in respect of which no application is made under subsection (3),

(b) as a result of the application, the child is offered a place at the school, being a school which is suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he may have, and

(c) the parent requests the authority to amend the order by substituting that school for the one currently named,

the authority shall comply with the request.

441 Choice of school: child with statement of special educational needs

(1) Subsections (2) and (3) apply where a local education authority are required by virtue of section 437(3) or (3A) to serve a school attendance order in respect of a child for whom they maintain a statement under section 324.

(2) Where the statement specifies the name of a school, that school shall be named in the order.

(3) Where the statement does not specify the name of a school—

(a) the authority shall, in accordance with paragraph 10 of Schedule 27, amend the statement so that it specifies the name of a school, and

(b) that school shall then be named in the order.

(4) Where —

(a) a school attendance order is in force in respect of a child for whom the local education authority maintain a statement under section 324, and

(b) the name of the school specified in the statement is changed, the local education authority shall amend the order accordingly.

442 Revocation of order at request of parent

(A1) Subsections (B1) to (D1) apply where a school attendance order served by a local authority in England is in force in respect of a child.

(B1) If the child is registered on the authority’s home education register, the authority shall revoke the order.

(C1) If the authority are satisfied that the child —

(a) is in the area of another authority, and

(b) is registered on that authority’s home education register,

they shall revoke the order.

(D1) If at any time the parent applies to the authority requesting that the order be revoked on the ground that arrangements have been made for the child to receive suitable education, otherwise than at a school, under section 19, the authority shall comply with the request, unless they are of the opinion that no satisfactory arrangements to this effect have been made.

(1) This section applies where a school attendance order

Subsection (2) applies where a school attendance order served by a local authority in Wales is in force in respect of a child.

(2) If at any time the parent applies to the local education authority requesting that the order be revoked on the ground that arrangements have been made for the child to receive suitable education otherwise than at school, the authority shall comply with the request, unless they are of the opinion that no satisfactory arrangements have been made for the education of the child otherwise than at school.

(3) If a parent is aggrieved by a refusal of the local education authority to comply with a request under subsection (D1) or (2), he may refer the question to the Secretary of State.

(4) Where a question is referred to the Secretary of State under subsection (3), he shall give such direction determining the question as he thinks fit.

(5) Where the child in question is one for whom the authority maintain a statement under section 324 —

(a) subsections (B1) to (D1) and (2) to (4) do not apply if the name of a school or other institution is specified in the statement, and

(b) in any other case a direction under subsection (4) may require the authority to make such amendments in the statement as the Secretary of State considers necessary or expedient in consequence of his determination.

School attendance: offences and education supervision orders

443 Offence: failure to comply with school attendance order

(A1) A parent on whom a school attendance order is served in respect of a child by a local authority in England, and who fails to comply with the requirements of the order, is guilty of an offence unless —

(a) the parent proves that he is causing the child to receive suitable education, otherwise than at school, under section 19

(b) the child is registered on the authority’s home education register, or

(c) the parent proves that the child is in the area of another authority, and the child is registered on that authority’s home education register.

(1) If a parent on whom a school attendance order is served by a local authority in Wales fails to comply with the requirements of the order, he is guilty of an offence, unless he proves that he is causing the child to receive suitable education otherwise than at school.

(2) If, in proceedings for an offence under this section, the parent is acquitted, the court may direct that the school attendance order shall cease to be in force.

(3) A direction under subsection (2) does not affect the duty of the local education authority to take further action under section 437 if at any time the authority are of the opinion that, having regard to any change of circumstances, it is expedient to do so.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.


[Also, later in the act]:

In section 580 of EA 1996 (index), in the entry for “school attendance order”, for “section 437(3)” there is substituted “section 437(9)”.

My Most Recent Letter to a Lord

We should all be writing now to educate the Lords on the implications of Schedule 1 and to encourage them to speak at the 2nd reading in the Lords. See here for more details about writing to the Lords and visit the Freedom for Children to Grow site for more information on what goes on in the House of Lords. There is also a list of Lords here where some Lords have included an email address in the "biog" section.

Sent via Write to Them:

Dear Lord xxxx,

I am writing to you with regard to the Children, Schools and Families Bill which is due its second reading in the House of Lords on 8th March 2010. In particular, I and many others in the xxxx area are very concerned about the implications of Schedule 1 which may be found here:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmbills/008/10008.38-44.html#m01s

My husband and I have been home educating for over 12 years now. I have seen how it provides a wonderful and invigorating environment which strengthens the bond between parents and children, which allows for a flourishing of talent, which empowers parents to take care of their children to the best of their ability, delivers advantages to the otherwise seemingly disadvantaged child and which makes for successful young people who are very ready to face the challenges of the modern world.

And yet over the past year or so, one could be forgiven, as a general observer, for thinking home educators the most abusive bunch of parents in the land. Home educators have been subjected to a review with the remit to search for evidence that home education is used as a cover for abuse. When this was not easily forthcoming, highly unusual cases, such as the terrible case of Khyra Ishaq, have been cited as the reason for the draconian proposals at Schedule 1.

However it is clear that in every one of these unusual cases, current legislation would have been sufficient to solve the problems, had it been used correctly. In the case of Khyra Ishaq, social services and the home education teams knew that there were concerns and had heard on numerous occasions that she appeared be at risk. Social services simply had to use their current powers as enshrined in s47 of the Children Act 1989:

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1989/ukpga_19890041_en_7#pt5-l1g47

It is extremely unfortunate that they chose not to, though not surprising when you consider how short-staffed, over-worked and under-funded most social work teams are nowadays.

A universal monitoring scheme for all home educators, as proposed in Schedule 1, would not be the best solution here. It would result in the monumental waste of public funds as thousands of otherwise well-functioning families will be inspected for no reason whatsoever and with some devastating implications for these families, and all the while, social work services will be struggling to cope with those they know to be at risk.

Of course, the lack of funding for social service departments only looks set to get much worse from 2011 onwards, and it will therefore be all the more imperative to target the money wisely - where it will be most likely to save children in abusive situations. Schedule 1 will not do this and does not represent a wise investment of public monies.

Further on the ineffectiveness of Schedule 1: if there are any seriously abusive, undiscovered families out there, they are highly unlikely to come forward to register, for what have they got to lose by not doing so? Only law-abiding HEors, with so much to lose, (ie: the right to home educate), will come forward to undergo this licencing process.

It is indeed the case that HEing families have much to lose, should Schedule 1 be enacted. One of the most significant problems is that the licencing process would mean that the state would become the educator of first resort. Parents will no longer be able to determine the nature of the educational provision for their children, since this will be determined by the Local Authority officer. Parents, who after all, usually do know their children best, will no longer be able to tailor the education to fit the child, but will have to provide an education that fits the subjective judgement of "suitable" that the LA officer (a virtual stranger to the child) holds.

This is already a problem for many HE families who are inspected under the current, less draconian regime. It looks set to get much worse should the local authorities be delivered of the powers in Schedule 1. Under Schedule 1, LA officers will be able to force children, many of whom will have previously been failed by state education, straight back into it, simply on a LA officer's say-so. Families will have no defence in courts, as Schedule 1 makes it clear that courts will not be allowed to consider whether the parents were in fact providing a suitable education out of school.

Parents and families will thereby be reduced to acting as agents of the state, required to do its bidding. This will not only undermine parental/familial initiative and familial trust, (qualities that has up till now been very much in evidence in HE circles), but it will also undermine the principles of democracy. A democracy is predicated upon the idea of an articulate, literate and independent populace who are capable of holding the state to account. If everyone is to receive only a state-mandated education, the possibility of a genuine democracy is thereby diminished.

This legislation will have a profound and on occasion, devastating impact upon the lives of many home educated children. We would therefore be extremely grateful if you would consider debating this issue in the House of Lords, not least because this issue received extremely scant attention in the Third Reading in the Commons, and we see here:

http://www.lordswhips.org.uk/display/templatedisplay3.asp?sectionid=5

that there are only a few Lords currently listed to speak.

If you need any further information, you may be interested to know that there is to be a meeting on the subject of Schedule 1 on Tuesday March 2nd 6-7pm, Committee Room 16, House of Commons. Hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group, the room will be available until 7.30pm.

Confirmed speakers:

*Dr. Alan Thomas - has written papers on self-directed/autonomous learning - how successful it is and why you cannot monitor this kind of learning.

*Christine Waterman, on Special Educational Needs and how the proposals would impact on home educated children with SEN.

* Mike Crawshaw, on how the government misled the House of Commons with flawed analysis and discredited statistics.

* Jane Lowe (HEAS) on the current situation with the LAs and why no change in the law is necessary.

Many thanks for you help in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Law and Lawyers on the Ishaq Case

...here.

Prejudice, Ignorance and Lies from LAs

...as reported in the TES here. The comments are a must-read.

More on the implications of Khyra's case.

Well said, Julie. Social services knew about the risks to Khyra. They just didn't act appropriately on the information they had, despite having all the powers they needed.

The DCSF must NOT waste money inspecting thousands of well-functioning families. They should target the money at families known to be at risk since SS across the country are finding it next to impossible to cope with these.

Gerald Warner in the Telegraph agrees and Merry writes an open letter to Fern Britten and Jeremy Vine, explaining the facts of the matter.

UPDATE: According to Children and Young People Now, Balls has sparked outrage in the HE community. Too right he has. Blogdial puts the full case against the state and N. Shropshire provides useful links and further information.

Do Ed Balls and his henchmen like to bully home educators?

Well after reports of the meeting at which defenders of HEors such as Douglas Carswell MP and Paula Rothermel were openly booed, I think we can now even include bullet point 1. All the other bullet points clearly apply, which would seem to suggest that yes, Ed Balls and the DCSF are bullies.

From Unite, here are the questions you should ask yourself if you want to determine if you are being bullied.
Am I being bullied?