Sunday, August 06, 2006

Education Research Also Gets a Fail

Continuing with the theme from the previous post, on the matter of the embarrassingly ignorant, misconceived, mis-directed state of thinking in and now behind education policy, we have this from the National Foundation for Education Research, (NFER), a body largely funded by the DfES and LAs.

Every home educating list, (well, all the ones I'm on anyhow) has carried strong objections to what looks like a propaganda piece for LAs. Home Educators are right to object. What more needs to be said when we hear that the researchers were teachers and the four home educating families who were selected to partake in the research were put forward by the LAs? No wonder you end up with this sort of response:

"Parents noted the benefits of local authority officers having a teaching background. A keen interest in, and a connection with, the children was considered key to the development of an effective relationship between the local authority and families. "

Whaaa? Effective for whom exactly? It might serve the authorities very well in their mission to control, but I've yet to hear of any HE family who has been bowled over by the help provided by an LA, teachers or no teachers, and even if we were to be offered all this help, we CERTAINLY don't want to HAVE to have it. The thing is, help will only come with scrutiny and this scrutiny is more than likely to actually damage learning in the situation that families feel the pressure to produce for the LA rather than attending to the specific needs of their children.

At least now we know what the LAs really want. It is out there, in its full awfulness:

"Local authority personnel's legal concerns led them to propose the following: that all parents register their intent to home educate with the local authority; that the term "efficient and suitable" full-time education be more accurately defined; and, because of the local authority's responsibility with regard to safeguarding children, a requirement for EHE children to be seen by professionals (although local authorities are responsible for safeguarding and promoting children's welfare, they do not have powers to enter homes). Other recommendations fell under the remit of monitoring and assessment and included the importance of monitoring the educational provision made for EHE children and the need for regular assessments to determine EHE children's educational progress. "

Ok, so where does all this monitoring actually stop? Perhaps we should monitor the monitors just to make sure that their learning is up to scratch. In fact, by their own argument surely they must see this as essential. Given the evidence so far presented, it is quite clear that the policy makers and the LAs haven't got a good grounding in very much at all that is pertinent here, eg: in how to undertake or read research, or in learning theory, or in the British tradition of freedom for the populace. It looks as if we must set rather a large amount of homework for marking with a final examination on the subjects of the problems of scientism and statistics, epistemology, ethics and including a large section on the reasons for the importance of freedom and the dangers of subjugation of people.

However, I personally would rather not bother. How about this idea: we will leave you alone to get on with stuff that might be useful, and you leave us alone to get on with stuff that will be useful?

Go here to lodge objections with the NFER and to provide further rather more accurate information than they've managed to seek out so far.


Tim said...

I think that given the slightest chance, the LEAs and DfES will ban HE.

New Labour is far to the right of where the Conservatives have been in the last half century and the only legacy of Old Labour is the transmogrification of mass movement into mass healthcare, mass consumerism and mass education. One size fits all and non-compliance means you are a subversive and probably a terrorist.

Carlotta said...

Quite so to all of that. I also feel that it may be something to do with Labour losing the argument over the free market, which means that they find themselves with nothing better to do than to interfere in private lives. It is terrifying.

Although the Conservatives have got huge problems with their conception of what constitutes an education, at least they do have some grounding in the theories of the minimization of the power of the state, and in the nature and importance of freedom.

Mind you, may be a different matter once they get back in.

archrights said...

The problem they would face in banning HE, though, is of responsibility. Currently s7 Education Act 96 places the duty on parents to ensure a suitable education is provided (ie according to age, ability, aptitude and any special needs)

In order to remove the power to HE, they would also have to shift the burden of duty to LEAs or DfES - which could open them up to a lot of legal challenge from those who were failed by the school system.

The time to worry is when there are no failing schools and all talents are adequately nurtured. HErs probably don't need to hold their breath!

Tim said...

I think this is already planned in. Already, parents are encouraged to place there children from as ealry as possible into the hands of nurseries and schools for most of their waking hours. After school clubs are seen as being a wonderful enhancement.

However, when things go wrong, it is parents who are blamed. They are supposed to have prepared them for school better, instilled discipline et, etc. Precisely when they would have the opportunity to do this is another matter.