Wednesday, January 25, 2006

De Facto Registration, Part ii.

The dual pincer movement that results from the Children's Database and the Children Missing from Education initiative has finally skewered us. An impatient sounding red letter informs us that we have already once neglected to inform the Education Dept of our local council about how we intend to educate our youngest (which is true, since we ignored the first letter).

So now we're stuck. If we reply to the effect that we intend to home educate, we will immediately become subject to informal enquiries, with all the vagaries of the LEA officials that this may entail. If we don't reply, we will become subject to enquiries from those investigating children missing from education. Either way, our right to privacy in family life appears to have gone by the by and we should also kiss goodbye to the idea of genuine parental choice - a concept so apparently dear to the very same policy makers who go about restricting it, since it is our choice not only that we be left alone, but that we make decisions about how we go about educating our family in our own good time, and not necessarily by Friday at the latest.

Generously, given the imperious nature of the rest of the letter, the admissions manager informs us "If you feel you have any exceptional circumstances pertaining to the non-return of the application, please outline them in writing no later than 27th January 2006." I guess I could say that I disagree in principle with everything for which this letter stands, but to deign to reply would seemingly dignify the letter far more than is due.

As usual this particular road to Hell is paved with good intentions. These people believe that they are on a virtuous highway, with the urge to seek out neglectful and abusive parents driving them on, and all the while they don't look in the mirror. They don't see that they themselves are instituting a form of abuse that is far more pernicious to a greater number, far more corrosive of parental responsibility, freedom and choice, and that they leave in their wake a multiple pile up of damage in the arena of individuals developing the art of freely and happily accepting and fulfilling their own freely chosen responsibilities.


Leo said...

Damn them. So sorry to hear. :(

Julie said...

But now they have asked, you'll need to reply :o(
From UKHE website (as I am sure you know);
case law (Phillips v Brown, Divisional Court [20 June 1980, unreported] Judicial review by Lord Justice Donaldson, as he then was) has established that an LEA may make informal enquiries of parents.

Lord Donaldson said:

"Of course such a request is not the same as a notice under s 37 (1) of the Education Act 1944 (now s 437 (1) of the 1996 Education Act) and the parents will be under no duty to comply. However it would be sensible for them to do so. If parents give no information or adopt the course .......... of merely stating that they are discharging their duty without giving any details of how they are doing so, the LEA will have to consider and decide whether it ‘appears’ to it that the parents are in breach of s 36. (now s7 of the 1996 Education Act.)"

As I have said before, if I were you I'd just write your educational philosophy and send them that-and maybe refrain from adding "So stick that in your pipe........!"
Then go back to your private life and the important stuff of educating and socialising!
See you at swimming?

Carlotta said...

Thanks for the sensible take, Julie! It was the sheer cheek of it got to me. These enquiries were so far from informal, that it immediately put my back up. The whole feel of the letter was clearly intended to make one feel compelled to fill in Form PA1.

In moral, if not legal terms, I see no difference between this and me firing off an equivalent letter that demands to know what religious take people have chosen or what are their sexual preferences, signficantly intrusive into a complex, deeply considered private sphere is the question.

But I shall do as you say, and tick the boxes...and continue to rant about the well-intentioned idiocies of state intrusion here!

Clare said...

Sorry but I totally disagree with you! These checks and controls have nothing to do with trying to keep safe those at risk despite the fact that that's what the ptb say! I absolutely and firmly believe that we live in a country that can in no way be described as a democracy and is fast becoming a very cleverly sneaked-in dictatorship. These checks and controls are not about safeguarding the public, they're about knowing what we are all up to so they know better how to bring us (and, more importantly for them, our children who are not being brainwashed in schools) under their control.

I wish I knew what the answer was:
- ignore them and we risk further, more dangerous intrusion
- reply truthfully and honestly and we risk the same
- humour them and send them a letter telling them a pack of lies that might just keep them quiet and we risk showing our children that principles are not important and not to be fought for; and also not getting anything changed in this country!

I'm terrified by the future when it comes our turn to be under scrutiny from the ptb with regard to education. I'm already getting a taste of it from the HVs about not taking my children to be checked up on by them.


Julie said...

I agree, it p*****s me off too. Especially when you know that the schools our kids came out of are 'failing schools' and are in special measures'!
I don't think it;s about keeping folks safe either-if that were the case they would be employing more social workers on the ground to go help children known to be at risk. I actually think it is more to do with social control, Big Brother and all that and to create a market for the sort of technology 'GB Ltd' is developing and needs to sell to the rest of the world as our other industries are fast disappearing!
I have heard that our LEA bod, although agreeing that Ed Phils are acceptable, would much rather make a home visit to ensure a child is safe and well! How is i visit per year, at a pre arranged time going to ensure a child is safe and well? Surely if someone were abusing their kids they would make sure that the child appeared well and happy for that expected visti -or else! I think this particular lady is probably 'well intentioned' but misled. I don't think the goverment is well intentioned at all!

Mrs Loveday said...

Well this is a bummer, but your youngest is not yet of an age to concern them and perhaps you could write to them telling them this.
Tell them you have no fixed plans as yet and will possibly be privately educating dc.
Something along those lines should satisfy them...if they are reasonable peeps!!!

I am sure we had a letter many moons ago and I just ignored it actually, but they didn't pursue it...maybe thats why the EWO came round...
Get your Ed Phil ready for dc1 just in case..they can't touch dc2 yet.
Good to see your back x

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that the conspiracy theory ideas here really stack up!! But I do agree that the state interventions don't achieve their goals at all for the reasons Julie mentions. Isn't it more a case of bad thinking and getting it wrong whilst intending to get it right? Our country is a long way off from being an authoritarian regime (despite the fact that in an increasing attempt to keep terrorists at bay the country ends up having the appearance of one!)

The people carrying out the laws introduced to 'protect' the majority and, incidentally to give the country what most voters say they want, genuinely think they are helping, as Carlotta pointed out. They genuinely think that they are acting on the best theories available.