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.

53 comments:

Firebird said...

By making HE harder and less attractive to start off with there will be cases where children who are suffering at school will be left there. Eventually one of these cases will result in a death.

By spreading limited resources thinner ('making the haystack bigger') more at risk children will not get the help that they need. Since this effect of the CSF bill will apply to ALL children, not just the HE minority it is INEVITABLE that a child will die as a direct result. Of course so many children already die because of inadequate funding and general incompetence in SS it will be hard to pin any individual one on the CSF bill.

Any supporter of Schedule 1 either can't understand simple cause and effect or they just don't CARE. I can understand that, if your motive is the elimination of HE a few deaths here or there may seem to be an acceptable price.

Maire said...

Uggh, you can probably imagine what prompted that, talk about lack of self awareness in some pompous fools who blog! Shame that others bother to dignify such self congratulatory nonsense with comments.

I agree with you and Firebird but some people don't really care about the truth, just about winning an arguement.

mum6kids said...

According to anti bullying charities 16 children and young people commit suicide because of school bullying each year (on average). Now I know that the Uni of Manchester have found that thankfully suicide rates in teens and young men in particular are reducing considerably. I would be interested to see what has helped that.
16 school caused suicides a year might not mean much in the overall suicide rate for young people of well over 1000- but each of those suicides is a child or young person so traumatised they killed themselves. That has to matter doesn't it?

I worked for CAMHS for some years and can confirm that self harm and serious depression can result thanks to school bullying. I even came across of cases of victims of unrelenting bullying (where the schools in question knew and as in so many cases, did nothing) ended up committing petty crimes and had the police involved. Funny how being bullied is fine but doing something minor at the bullies' front drive will get you a probation officer isn't it?

The CSF Bill is not worded to ensure that children are safely away from a school situation they have found intolerable to the point of suicidal thoughts and behaviour. It is not worded to support the rights of parents to remove their children from such situations. On the contrary the Bill undermines the rights of parents and children in making these decisions. There is nothing in the Bill that even recognises the needs of such children.
Having to stay on school role for 20 days and the reduced rights of appeal for SAOs are hardly likely to make families with such children feel safe, especially in the light of much documented appalling practice from LA staff.

So, could there be blood on the hands of those who support such a bill?
If you are actively enabling and supporting something that could and even some would say seems likely to cause further damage to the safety of children, then yes. You can't say I want this law passed and I'm not responsible for the outcome (well you can but it isn't honest).

Anonymous said...

Brilliantly put Carlotta. It is hopefully likely that in an enlightened future people will be horrified by the suffering that children have been obliged to suffer in schools today, and like with slavery, will find it hard to understand why so many thought it was ok.
As you say. I quote:

"the trivialisation of school trauma is such a norm and a heftily entrenched meme"

that they can't see reason and people don't appreciate how much damag sounded hysterical and irrational on radio 4... as one should perhaps if one protects a dying mode of thinking.

d

Anonymous said...

'damag' should read Deech! ??

Anonymous said...

'damag' should read 'Deech', of course! I don't know where that came from

Simon Webb said...

The situation with School Attendance Orders will remain unchanged, as will the precedents such as Bevan V Shears, which were established in any case over thirty years before anybody even thought of School Attendance Orders.
As things stand, if a child is not receiving a suitable education the local authority can issue a School Attendance Order and then prosecute the parents. This will also be the situation if the Children School and Families Bill passes into law. The difference will be that the local authority will acknowledge that they accept that the education being provided is suitable by registering the child as home educated. This alters absolutely nothing; it will still be necessary to bring a prosecution, even if the local authority does not believe that the child is receiving an education. It will then be for the courts to decide on the suitability of the education. Even before this stage is reached, there is another layer of protection for the child in that there is an appeals process. this will almost certainly be handled by the same panel who currently look at schools appeals.

Anonymous said...

Simon Webb seems to imply that the CSF bill changes little but "the local authority will acknowledge that they accept that the education being provided is suitable by registering the child as home educated."

So what? Why do we need a bunch of expensive idiots to tell us that? These people cost us enough in taxes already while failing to do their jobs - look at Birmingham and the Khyra Ishaq case.

Webb is standing up for more waste, incompetence and corruption in local government.

Simon Webb said...

Waste, incompetence and corruption in local government will, like the poor, always be with us! I am merely pointing out that this bill will not really alter the situation regarding a suitable education and how the local authority should deal with it.

Simon Webb said...

As to whether the CSF Bill will, as the author of this post suggests, kill children; this seems very unlikely. Each year around eleven adolescents between the ages of eleven and seventeen kill themselves. 90% of the young people who either attempt or succeed in killing themselves have psychiatric disorders. The risk factors for mental health problems in this age group include, living in rented housing, having a parent with mental health problems, having a low reading age and living apart from their father. This last increases the risk of psychiatric diorders in children and adolescents by 40%. When a child kills herself, the family often feel guilty and look for a scapegoat. This is quite natural really, since the factors which cause suicide and psychiatric disturbance usually lie close to home. School is a popular excuse which is ceased upon. About one child in this age group a year who is not suffering from a psychiatric disorder could typically be expected to commit suicide. There is no evidence that the educational setting is implicated in such deaths.

Those really concerned with child suicide might start to ask themselves about the risk factors which lead to mental illness and suicide. Living with a single mother is a huge risk factor and, as I mentioned above, having a low reading age is another. If home educated children do kill themselves, these are more likely to be the sort of factors implicated, rather than any new legislation passed by parliament.

Anonymous said...

Simon Webb is lying, as usual, when he says "The situation with School Attendance Orders will remain unchanged".

The CSF Bill places an obligation on a local authority to serve a school attendance order whenever it finds an unregistered home-educated child for whom school attendance would be "expedient". Expediency explicitly excludes education. This is hardly an unchanged situation.

Simon Webb said...

No, the CSF Bill places an obligation on the local authority to register the child as being home educated, not to serve a School Attendance Order. If this process encounters difficulties, then an appeal is possible by the parents. This will probably take much the same form as the current appeals made by people who cannot get the educational provision which they seek for their children. Once this process is exhausted, then the local authority may issue a School Attendance Order. If this is not complied with, then it will be necessary for them to prosecute the parents. It then becomes a matter for the courts to decide, taking into account the various precedents. The procedure has not changed. At the moment any local authority which beleives that a child is not receiving a suitable education may issue a School Attendance Order. It will be the same after the passage of the Children, Schools and Families Bill 2009.

Anonymous said...

Simon Webb says:

   "No, the CSF Bill places an obligation on the local authority to register the child as being home educated, not to serve a School Attendance Order."

The CSF Bill says:

  "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."

Anonymous said...

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0330/breaking23.html

Simon Webb said...

Yes, please note,

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

This is again precisely the same as is currently the case. It is simply a rewording of "not receiving a suitable, full time education." The local authority will visit the house, attempt to register the child as home educated and then she will no longer be in the category of being,

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

The School Attendance Order will remain the last option, not the first response!

Anonymous said...

Smion Webb says

   It is simply a rewording of "not receiving a suitable, full time education."

Wrong again.

The CSF Bill says:

   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.

Simon Webb said...

I simply cannot decide whether this is wilful misunderstanding of the situation or what! This section refers to the situation where the registration of a child as being home educated has fallen down, for whatever reason. Under those circumstances, then the child will indeed be regarded as not receiving a suitable education and a School Attendance Order may be issued. This does not mean that any child who the local authority discovers is not at school will be grabbed by the child catcher and careted off to school. It simply means that if there is a refusal to be registered under the new legislation, then there will be a presumption that the child is not receiving a suitable education.

Anonymous said...

Currently, before issuing an SAO, a local authority must attempt to establish whether a child is receiving suitable education. The CSF Bill stipulates that a local authority must not consider the education a child is receiving when deciding whether to issue an SAO.

Perhaps the wilful misunderstanding is on the part of the person who describes the situation under the CSF Bill as "unchanged".

Simon Webb said...

Let me have one last try at explaining this. The object of the exercise here is to get all home educating parents to register with their local authority. We need not consider whether this is wise or good; that is what they wish to do. In order to encourage parents to do so, there is the threat that failing to register with the local authority will result in the issuing of a School Attendance Order. Here are the proposed regulations;

A) 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.

In other words, all home educated children will be registered as home educated children. Those who refuse to register will be those in category A above. When deciding whether to issue the SAO, the authority now disregards any home education being provided by such families. This is because they are not registered and the LA has had no chance of determining the quality of the provision.

The aim is of course not to go racing round picking up home educated children and serving School Attendance Orders; these are the children whose parents will not cooperate. It will not affect at all those parents who have registered with their local authority as home educators. i hope this makes matters a little clearer.

Anonymous said...

Simon Webb said:
"Each year around eleven adolescents between the ages of eleven and seventeen kill themselves."

Webb is up to his usual trick of being highly selective in order to present a distorted picture of reality. He picks a particular - often isolated, irrelevant or partial - issue to argue about but ignores the bigger, more serious picture. From watching his antics this seems to be his favourite tactic.

Marr and Field (2001 "Bullying - death at playtime") report at least 16 child suicides per year in the UK as a result of bullying. But the number of child suicide attempts is much larger - around 19,000. In addition - and I don't have the source to hand - over a million children are being treated for depression or related disorders.

Perhaps many of these cases are not due to school, but lets use the DCSF/Badman/LA/Webb style of argument and assume that they are, so we have ~10% of children depressed and bullied by the school environment to the point that many of them try to kill themselves.

Not a highly rigorous argument but easily good enough to show that this is a much bigger problem than anything that arises from home education. So where should the state invest its money: into Badman & daughter's company and copies of Webb's forthcoming book for an army of expensive idiots, or should it spend it on trying to fix the real problem?

Anonymous said...

Simon Webb said:
   The situation with School Attendance Orders will remain unchanged

Later, Simon Webb said:
   there is the threat that failing to register with the local authority will result in the issuing of a School Attendance Order

The threat of an SAO for "failing to register" is hardly an unchanged situation. As usual, Simon Webb shows himself up to be a liar. It is a mystery why he does not take up some cause which he can bring himself to defend without dishonesty.

Simon Webb said...

Anonymous says,

"Simon Webb said:
The situation with School Attendance Orders will remain unchanged

Later, Simon Webb said:
there is the threat that failing to register with the local authority will result in the issuing of a School Attendance Order"

There is no contradiction. Currently, the local authority may issue a School Attendance Order if they feel that a child is not receiving a suitable education. When the CSF Bill is passed, the situation will be the same. The only difference will be that the local authority will now be in a position to determine routinely whether the education being received by a child is in fact suitable. Having done so, they will register this child as being home educated. If they fail to establish this, then the child will not be receiving a suitable education and an SAO will be issued. Just how difficult can this be for people to understand?

Simon Webb said...

To the Anonymous who quoted Marr & Field as though they were academics who had carried out some sort of research; get a grip! These figures are from a ghastly book called Bullycide. They manage to come up with this figure of sixteen suicides a year from newspaper reports. It is enough to say that nobody else has ever been able to authenticate these statistics. As I say, the National office of Statistics figure is eleven suicides a year in the eleven to seventeen age range. It is certainly possible that bullying is involved in some of these deaths, but far from definite that it was the actual cause. As I say, 90% of suicides in this group are by young people with psychiatric disorders.

Anonymous said...

Simon Webb says:
   "The only difference [...]"

No, that's not the only difference, as Simon Webb's own words show. Under the CSF Bill SAOs are a punishment for "failing to register", which is not currently the case.

Anonymous said...

Simon Webb said: "...blah Marr and Field...blah"

Typical Webb. I never claimed they were academics; I said they reported that number and it's consistent with other reports of 15-25 child suicides per year.

As usual, Webb tries to divert the argument to small differences in small numbers while ignoring the big serious issues. So what about the hundreds of thousands - at least - that are suffering in school? He's complacent about that as well as about waste, incompetence and corruption.

Simon Webb said...

I wasn't trying to divert the argument at all. The title of the post was "Will the CSF Bill Kill Children?" I was therefore limiting my remarks to deaths which might be caused by the passage of this legislation. You might care to glance at the leading reasons for suicide in young people, which I give below. Bullying does not feature.

Alcohol and drug abuse Substance abuse is thought to be a highly significant factor in youth suicide. Alcohol and drugs affect thinking and reasoning ability and can act as depressants. They decrease inhibitions, increasing the likelihood of a depressed young person making a suicide attempt. American research has shown that one in three adolescents is intoxicated at the time of an attempt.

Unemployment There is much debate over the role of unemployment in suicide and causal links have not been established. However the rate of attempted suicide amongst the short-term unemployed has been shown to be 10 times as high as for people in work.

Physical and Sexual Abuse Young people who suffer, or have suffered, abuse in the past are often at increased risk of suicide or deliberate self-harm.

Custody Within the prison population as a whole, young prisoners represent the largest group of at-risk individuals, particularly those under 21 who make up a third of the remand population. In 1995, 20% of prison suicides were by people of 21 or under.

Simon Webb said...

Here by the way are the statistics for suicide rates among young people;

Figures for 11-17s 1994-2004

Total suicides England: 111

Average suicide rate England:
1 per 500,000

Source: Office of National Statistics

I simply don't know where you are getting this figure of fifteen to twenty five suicides a year. Can you share your source? (Please tell me it's not Bullycide!)

Carlotta said...

Simon,

As I said in the original post, I hold out so little hope of changing your mind on the issue of the serious levels of unhappiness that school causes many children, that it is probably pointless to embark at any length upon this topic.

Suffice it to say that I know school-related unhappiness and self-harm, without a shadow of a doubt, to be a HUGELY under-recognised and under-reported problem.

By way of just one example, I could report the massive levels of school-related unhappiness in quite a percentage of the schooled children we know.

This unhappiness is never acknowledged by anyone other than us as far as I am aware, although I do try talking to parents,(so far pretty unsuccesfully sadly).

It never comes to the attention of teachers, GPs, Ed Psychs, EWOs, and least of all the parents, who have most to lose, (all that free child care), by acknowledging that these children are suffering.

The children will however, once they realise they can talk frankly to an adult who doesn't have a vested interest in propping up the school meme, tell me quite honestly that it is the school that is the problem.

They routinely go to school with sheer dread in their hearts, for one school-related reason or another.

At least two of these children have taken to self-harming. They only started doing this when they went to the secondary school, having been perfectly happy in primary school. Another has taken to acting out and throwing yogurt pots at old ladies' front doors. This sort of behaviour only started happening when he went to our dysfunctional secondary school.

The idea that accurate figures can be sourced from the Office of National Statistics is ridiculous. If the Office were to acknowledge the degree of damage that schooling does to the psyche of the nation, the economy would collapse.

But to take your explanations for self-harm and death in children seriously for a moment, even you would have to ask yourself why poor reading age is actually such a problem for children.

I have known plenty of late, though pretty quickly extremely competent readers in the HE community and not one of them suffered as a result of it. This is not the same for schooled children where poor reading age can have a devastating impact.

(cont'd below).

Carlotta said...

(cont'd from above).

In fact poor reading age in school nearly caused the death of at least 2 girls we know. Luckily their parents had the sense to withdraw their children from school when the children both threatened suicide.

Neither child learnt to read at all for another couple of years whilst being HE and yet they were as happy and balanced as they come - both wonderful, kind, empathic children who cared for the younger ones in the group with the greatest generosity and interest. Both are now in college and doing very well.

And yet these are precisely the sorts of families who would be devastated by the CSF Bill. Both families eventually did EXTREMELY well in providing the world with two wonderful young women, and yet they removed their children in desperation and at a moment's notice. They knew next to nothing about HE, didn't know what they wanted to do next or how they would help their child, and yet if the CSF bill went through, they would have to be up and running within 20 days, so that they may pass muster with the registration process.

At least one of these families will tell you that there is no way they would have been allowed to HE at that stage, the family was in emotional tatters. What helped was the fact that they could be left alone, and could seek support from other HEors who had been there before them and who could explain what deschooling is all about, that there is no benefit in forcing info upon a child who is not ready for it, and that there is no harm in waiting, just waiting and doing very little other than having lovely conversations about anything that interests the child.

Would this be good enough for many LA inspectors? The honest answer is "no", and therefore that these children will be cruelly damaged by the CSF Bill.

Simon Webb said...

You say, Carlotta:

"The idea that accurate figures can be sourced from the Office of National Statistics is ridiculous. If the Office were to acknowledge the degree of damage that schooling does to the psyche of the nation, the economy would collapse."

About the psyche of the nation I do not feel myself competent to express an opinion, but where are you getting your figures for sucide and attempted suicide in young people? More particularly, where are you getting your statistics for the motivation behind these acts? You seem to be convinced that school is at the root in many cases, but I have not seen this mentioned as a factor anywhere. Where are you getting your information? After all, as a man lacking in integrity and whose hands are dripping with gore, you should surely be prepared to help me change my mind!

Carlotta said...

As I think I have intimated above, I am strongly of the opinion that neither I nor anyone else has accurate figures on these matters and this for a number of reasons, some of which I explained above:

- that people do not want to acknowledge that school damages children - parents because they cannot afford to do so, and/or would feel too guilty if they did so, teachers because they would be out of a job, the government because if everyone were to withdraw their children from schools, the world of work would have to be massively transformed).

- also because there would be significant problems generating figures of this sort: the problem of subjective bias and overcoming entrenched memes, the lack of proper control group (though I guess we could use the HE from birth group as one useful control), the fact that all such stats are rule-of-thumb stuff and not proper science, given that the reasons why humans do anything is not falsifiable, etc, etc.

This of course, does not mean that the problem of school-inflicted damage does not exist. One just has to look around one to see such problems everywhere.

Every teacher I speak to tells me of the children who fail in their classrooms and who suffer or who cause others to suffer because of this failure.

Loads of children I meet simply long to be home educated because they hate school and yet no-one listens to them.

I opened my old school magazine the other day and was surprised to see the school supporting-meme had unravelled for the person who had been the head girl in the year above me. At the time, she had been a full-blown supporter of the regime, (a word not chosen lightly, I may point out). She had bullied me as a junior prefect who appeared reluctant to bully younger girls. And yet here she was recanting, and recanting big-time. She said the school had been a terrible place, a place where children suffered terribly. She was right of course, but few had acknowledged it at the time.

About 3 or 4 years ago now, there was also a four page spread in the Sunday Telegraph supplement that had been written by a girl in the year below me, denouncing the place as a terrible pit of human suffering and emotional turmoil. I was really surprised that such an article had received national coverage, but suspect that this is only so because most of the teachers who were implicated were long gone. Writing such an article about a school today would be a more difficult thing to do, I suspect.

Anonymous said...

Simon Webb admitted:

"I have not heard of any cases of HE Inspectors killing or abusing children, but that does not mean that it can't happen in the future."

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Carlotta. I have seen many children either deadened as to affect or so miserable that they might well take their own lives, all through bullying at school which is pure and simple abuse.

Society does not only condone child bullies it encourages them. I have seen that for myself in the circumstances of children close to me.

If an individual child of a parent has not been bullied, then I believe that the parent cannot comprehend the hell and anguish caused by bullying. It is only when a young person close to you undergoes what we would not expect an adult to endure that you realise the utter degradation of human spirit that some victims of bullying have to deal with.

It is cruel and unusual punishment and THAT is where children's rights should be engaged, not in playing games with the pretend rights of us having to listen to children. We only listen to children when they obey us, not when they are screaming in agony.

mum6kids said...

I go away and come back to so many comments.

The question is will this CSF bill (if it goes through) make it more likely that a child or adolescent who has suicidal ideation or is seriously self harming kill themselves?
The answer is we don't know. But as we do know that many children threaten suicide, do self harm and seriously self harm and do what in the old days we called para-suicide then making it more difficult to get off the school reg and making already pretty dreadful practice in LAs easier would imply a likelihood that some serious problems and even a death might occur.

Stats as we know are pretty inaccurate and actually don't tell us anything.

Let's start with the "well they had mental illness".
Most people (in fact all the people I knew) who committed suicide did have a mental illness.
Anyone who comes to medical attention for self harm will get labelled.
It does fly in the face of a lot of training which said just because someone reacts to a grossly abnormal situation doesn't mean they are "ill" but docs like a nice neat box to put their patients in.

One of the obvious things to note is many children get their diagnosis of depression or even bi-polar after they have been bullied. It is of course well recognised in psych circles that bullying causes mental illness. It's not that surprising.
It's complicated though. Many children, as most of you have noted get bullied and get no parental support. They get left to it. This is likely to be a factor in self harm and suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Every person I knew who committed suicide had very complicated reasons for doing so. The shrug of "oh well they were mad, what do you expect?" is patently simplistic and callous-but happens far too often.

My husband has worked with more suicidal and self harming youngsters than I have as he has done over 26yrs in CAMHS- he is on the self harm rota and rarely has a SHR day without some one to see. Reasons vary; family problems is No 1, school problems probably no 2 and boyfriend probs come in there too. Often it's a combination.

I have worked with a lot of rape victims where it happened at school and at the hands of staff.

Going back to the Bill: If Ball really wanted to make sure that "every child mattered then he would start with the staff in the system he already has.
LA staff who harrass and don't know the law do not need more power. Schools certainly don't need the added bonus of keeping children they have failed so miserably on role with a view to the child being returned.
We also don't need forced govt sex ed.
Anyway hopefully this is moot as the nasty document looks set to sink.

Not that I believe this is over.

Maire said...

Would it be unkind to wish Simon understanding through experience as we have here. I fear no other sort is likely to work.

Thank goodness for a bit of a breather. Horror stories and good experience wanted here. http://www.theartofsurvival.co.uk/homeeducation/index.php

Anonymous said...

yes old heppell has been quiet i wonder why?

Anonymous said...

As I said in the original post, I hold out so little hope of changing your mind on the issue of the serious levels of unhappiness that school causes many children, that it is probably pointless to embark at any length upon this topic.

you are right it will be inpossible to change webb mind about this! i think he is in email contact with DCSF Balls/ Graham Badman! the man is a traiter to home educators

Weasel said...

Webb appears to be the *only* commentator here or anywhere who either does not understand or pretends not to understand the draconian changes proposed by the CSF bill. Run along Simon and troll your own blog. Your inability to understand english impresses and convinces no-one here.

Carlotta said...

"Would it be unkind to wish Simon understanding through experience as we have here."

Dear Maire,

I agree and actually in many ways I think it is good that Simon has prompted us to tell these stories again.

I think perhaps that very often I forget to tell these stories again, mainly because they are so familiar to me and so much a part of the fabric of my life, and therefore the premises for many of my arguments may be missed by those who have not come across them before.

I hope these examples do help to explain why I strongly believe that the CSF Bill could be so damaging to children and families.

I should also say that the story I told of the family who left school in a hurry and who would never have passed muster with the CSF Bill's reg process is by no means unique. I know of plenty of other families who would have needed a lot longer to heal before they could have convinced an LA officer that they could manage to HE.

mum6kids said...

I have to say I don't wish what happened to my son even on Webb.
I don't know what that man thinks this Bill is all about; on the one hand he says it wont change anything and on the other he thinks it would help those who want to put their children through gcses. I can't see that in the Bill. I also get the impression he is of the view that it's the government's job to take care of ensuring families get stuff. As a Christian of course I disagree and have written on subsidiarity more than once on my blog. And frankly I have come across a lot of non-Christian home edders who believe in subsidiarity too.

He also seems to have it in his head that those of us who are more structured in our approach are largely supportive of this Bill. I haven't met a single home ed parent-no matter what approach they use- that supports this.

One thing that is lacking in all this Government's approach is cleaning up its own mess.

Lets look at the lad who bullied my son. The school enabled him by doing nothing. Even the attempted strangulation did not illicit a response from adults.
Finally this young man stabs the caretaker and is sent to a YOI.
Surely this lad was KNOWN to the authorities. Surely there could have been some form of care offered this poor kid so he didn't end up as prison fodder.

But no. Nothing to help. Just a bill that forces little ones to have their right to innocence stripped from them (encouraging sexual bullying if the results from America are anything to go by) and a full on attack on home education.
It's barmy.

Simon Webb said...

The not inaptly names Weasel suggests that I have been trolling here. This is simply marvellous. What else could one call it when somebody disagrees strongly with the point of view that another might hold? Some would call it trolling, others debate. However, since it is pretty clear to me that debate on this subject is not particularly relished here, I shall not post any more comments. It would be as well though if future posts were not to name me as being implicated in the death and sterility of young women! That sort of thing is bound to provoke a response even from the mildest of men.

Carlotta said...

Dear Simon and others,

I am sorry that I haven't been able to moderate effectively here. In the past I would make it a point of honour, but the fact is that I am now way too busy, having taken up part time work, which has a habit of creeping up in number of hours as the week progresses and I therefore simply don't have time.

As a general rule, I would moderate for ad hominemns and other errors along these lines...including meta mails such as this one but in the absense of effective external moderation, I think the best that we can do is to try to self-moderate, and to try to keep the debate substantive.

So to return to the point. I do believe that those who support the Schedule 1 of the CSF Bill or anything along similar lines must consider the full consequences of such policies. It is, I suppose, a moot point whether this means it's proponents will have blood on their hands, but I certainly think that the bill could easily kill vulnerable children for the reasons I have explained above.

Simon Webb said...

I love this, Carlotta! You tell me that I have blood on my hands and have no integrity and then say:

"
As a general rule, I would moderate for ad hominemns "

It's the way you tell them!

Carlotta said...

Dear Simon,

To hold someone responsible for the problems another person suffers is not an ad hominem. It is a substantive part of the debate.

I think what is moot about this point is how much responsibility an individual campaigner can be said to have.

My argument is that since you have been the only vociferous campaigner from the HE community for this part of the CSF Bill, I do think you would be wise to consider your responsibilities in this regard.

Carlotta said...

Oh, I agree the "no integrity" bit was out of order, but only said that after you had called me a fool. It seemed fair at the time.

Carlotta said...

Oh goodness...will have to moderate all those last few posts. Let us just agree to draw a line under this bit and stick to the substantive parts of the debate, shall we?

Simon Webb said...

A final word on the subject of ad hominem attacks. Am I alone in noticing that while my comments were limited to supplying facts and figures, quoting various sources and so on, many of the replies were in the form of personal attacks? The sort of thing which mentions me by name and then accuses me of being a liar? Of course, this is because I am not ashamed of my own name and am quite happy to use it and my photograph, along with my personal email address. I have noticed in the past how many of those who attack me wish to remain anonymous. Strange, no? Almost like poison pen letters. Anyway, Carlotta, I think that you were talking about ad hominem attacks.....abio

mum6kids said...

I don't think I made any ad homs. I still don't understand Webb's support for the Bill:
If it wont change anything what is it for?
If it will help-where is that in the Bill and what form is the help taking? Is it forced help or real help?
What are the likely outcomes of handing more power to LAs?
As the vast majority of families presently home educating who have replied to the review have said NO very strongly why in a supposedly democratic country is it still being pushed through?

Firebirds questions on spreading thin resources thinner is also one I have.

I think those are fair questions.

Carlotta said...

I agree Mum of 6.

Anonymous said...

well said mum of 6 we agree with you.

Webb we dont agree with you.You know who we are!

Simon Webb said...

Well I would do Anonymous, if only you weren't too ashamed to sign your own name!

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