Thursday, March 23, 2006

In Need of a Rallying Cry!

I think I have it right when I say that at the last HE meeting, every single HE parent there has either seriously considered emigrating or is actually doing so.

There are several reasons for this. One of the main ones is the increasing sense that HE, as we know and love it, will effectively become impossible in the UK in the not too distant future. And the main reason for this surmise: those who have had the opportunity to explore the situation extensively have recently drawn this conclusion. For example, Mike Fortune-Wood of Home Education UK had the foresight, under the Freedom of Information Act, to ask for all the consultation documents that the DFES received in response to their call for criticisms of their draft guidelines about how LEAs are to deal with Home Education. The documents from HE organisations are predictably pretty sensible. The ones from the LEAs are almost unremittingly awful, most often calling for much greater powers of intervention and control. It is hard to believe that government will continue to ignore calls for strict regulation of HE in the near future, particularly given their recent track record of intervention in family life.

There are other reasons for considering a move. The housing market here is still crazy. People who find it impossible to live in appropriate housing could do very much better in many other countries. The country is gradually going bankrupt. Nobody likes the look of their pensions. Stealth taxes afflict us more than many dare to contemplate. The amount of red tape gets you down. Various bits of impending legislation, such as the Education Bill and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, look as if they will erode our freedoms further. (The Tories promise to set about limiting the powers of the latter, so that it will indeed just limit red tape, but aside from wondering whether more red tape can really limit red tape, we worry that these amendments will be simply ineffective.)

Despite all this, most Home Educators have decided to stick it out for the moment, and thank goodness for that, but there are implications for HE with this sense of impermanence. Those who are moving will be missed so badly. The links between HE families can become deeply significant. Certainly parents who have done both the school gate and HE meetings say that it is a vastly different experience. HE parents can become deep friends. Forget the kids- it's us we are concerned about!

Seriously though, we go on and on about how socialisation isn't a problem for HE kids, but the fact is, that it isn't that it just isn't a problem, it is that it really can be vastly superior to many school relationships, often simply because there can be SO much time to form deeply meaningful bonds between children. If their HE parents have any sense, (and most of them do), these kids are not called away by a school bell in the middle of a complex interaction and games can become serious entities with gradual evolutions that are deeply meaningful. All of which can mean that breaking these ties can be a serious wrench. Given that the HE community is still small, and the people within in it can be so wonderful, it can make the loss of relationships seem doubly sad. HE parents need to be there to pick up the pieces. Sometimes it is hard not to pre-emptively protect yourself and your family by not getting too involved in the life of someone you know is harbouring thoughts of emigrating. Doesn't really work though.

We will miss you so much SP. You won't be surprised to hear that JFT and I are both distraught and I have to admit that I keep dreaming in melancholy fashion about you and yours. Even the saintly SM has admitted that she harbours thoughts of sabotaging your preparations! Ds has gained so much from knowing your family, for which I will forever be grateful. We all know it is the most utterly sensible and brilliant decision for you and yours, but sniff, sob, OUCH.

Meanwhile, we ourselves ain't going anywhere just yet. Dh and I have talked about the extent to which we would go down the route of civil disobedience first. Dh seems quite happy with the idea. Me: Ummm...errr....


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about all the emigration. It is very sad when good friends leave - but it expands travel options!!

When we lived in melting pot community this happened all the time and, to help our children cope with loss (school friends are very close too - if you think about how the trauma of 'you against them' would make your relationship extra meaningful too!!) we would talk a lot about travel and all sorts of ways of staying in touch to help...


Julie said...

Gosh, this is a depressing post! But does Mike FW think it will become 'HE is effectively going to become impossible in the UK in the not too distant future' I didn't get that impression from talking to him-nor from EO. Maybe more tied up in red tape -sigh- more monitored, maybe given this governments thinking on controlling everything, but impossible? I don't think so-Not if most us have our way. And you know how outspoken and demonstartive we as a community can be.
Go away and give yourself a quick pep talk! ;o)
But yes I do know how it feels to loose close HE friends who emigrate, we wish they hadn't gone but do wish them all the best.
In the meantime there are loads of us who aren't going anywhere! See you tomorrow!

Carlotta said...

Thanks D...

And yes, Julie, you were quite right to question my wording. What I should have said and actually will amend is "HE as we know and love it will become impossible in the UK.."

For us, HE effectively will lose all significance, if it has to become merely school at home and I did get the impression that MFW thought this a serious possibility.

Ouch, ouch, ouch...

Allie said...

I, for one, am not going anywhere. This is my home, where I have roots, family and friends.

It must be sad to be saying goodbye to friends.

I think that nothing is lost yet in terms of our HE freedoms. If we are awkward enough I think we can convince the government that extensive monitoring etc. is just going to be an expensive nightmare. But where I do think they may well get away with tightening up is in the de-reg rules.

Leo said...

Isn't this going a bit overboard with the drama?

You make drama about this, you make drama about ID cards. Thing is, all other countries already have these things.

The HE legislation is not likely to become worse than other countries. In Portugal, which Mike sugests wrongly as a haven to HE, you have to register the children at a local school and present proof of education as requested by the local authorities.

Unless you want to do the disgusting thing and go to other countries take advantage of your British status to get away with doing things illegally, migration is not going to make your lives any easier.

Not to mention, if you immigrate to other countries you make the house prices rise there. Because you are so used to your prices and have no clue what the real market is, they sell you ruined farms at the price of gold.

"If their HE parents have any sense, (and most of them do), these kids are not called away by a school bell in the middle of a complex interaction and games can become serious entities with gradual evolutions that are deeply meaningful."

School sucks that way, yes. At least in my day (I don't know how different things are) kids at school always had friends in and out of school. It's not like school was ruining their lives. They would go out and play in the street and go to one another's homes, they even needed to meet one another's parents, which actually allowed them more freedom than parent controled group.

"HE parents can become deep friends. Forget the kids- it's us we are concerned about!"

Haha, but of course. It always was about you and your agendas, not the kids.

Carlotta said...


A calming voice of reason and good to hear you're not going anywhere!

I agree that your scenario looks likely and from the standpoint of long term HEors is more cheering.

I also agree that de-regging looks increasingly tricky. From what I gather, it rather looks as if the de-reg situation has changed without us even knowing, in that many LEAs are now sending out routine enquiry forms to various agencies to do a multi-agency check on parents who are de-registering their kids from school.

So bye-bye confidentiality and privacy, I suppose...The police state is already here in this regard.

I will cheer up soon, I promise. Probably just knacked!

Carlotta said...

Lol, Leo...of course I make a drama, but neither an unrealistic, or an unnecessary one, imo.

Other countries have restrictive HE legislation and they, eg: France and Germany, are, for various reasons, terrible places to try to HE! Sensible therefore to make a fuss and make it clear that we don't want to lose these freedoms here in the UK.

Emigration to places such as Canada, New Zealand, the US seems eminently sensible, imo. HE looks established in all these places, even given the machinations of such as HSLDA...

And as regards HE being an adult and great sadness as well - If only you knew how much Ds had to protest, poor child, before the penny dropped and I took him out of a playgroup and Steiner! Believe me, it was initially entirely his agenda, and only later became ours too.

Mind you, I do believe there can be significant perks for HE parents and how good is that! Common preferences all round. Even Dh, who isn't greatly involved in the HE scene, has made good friends with other HE parents. It serves all our purposes well.

Leo said...

I think parents only befriending parents is bad for the children. Too much parental power, because it's the only common goal of everyone.

All my friends are mainly non-parents and I wish it to remain so. I don't like to be on the parent side of the fence much.

I also see some home-ed children are having great dificulty being seperate entities from their parents and their causes. I don't want this to happen, the less I want is my child becoming like me!

On a positive side (yes, I have that, LOL) even if the education in the UK becomes strict as in other countries, you can have your privacy. You just have to be clever. Create a public life and a private life.

It might be cool to learn from schooled that seem to manage to have plenty of time and energy for projects of their own.

Anonymous said...

hope you have cheered up now..i suspect you may be down with a cold as we have them again!!!
The pitfalls of too much socialisation I guess.

Yep SP will be sadly missed as well as her children..I find P great company, plus my lot adore her completely.
But life goes on, people move on and the world constantly changes..
but I'm still here :-)

Anonymous said...

I have diametrically opposed philosophical/religious views to humanism..the other end of the continuum but your blog on the future of home education is absolutely right on.
UK Home educator for 7 years ..fought out one battle with LEA already over home ed and not prepared to do it again.