Saturday, January 06, 2007

Action for Home Education

Boy, are UK Home Educating community cross, on form and ready for action! Whilst I sit here listening to the unmitigated joy that is home education socialisation going on the background (unstinting creative games, play-writing, read-throughs, dress rehearsals, model making, animation work, cookery, caring for younger children, dance routines, Google trawls on various subjects and almost non-stop giggling), I have plenty of time to pass this on!



Action for Home Education (AHEd), an internet-based rights group for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, launches today in Derby with a pledge to act to protect the rights of parents and children who wish to enjoy home-based education without undue state interference, which they claim has reached an intolerable high and is set to worsen.

AHEd has arisen from a network of committed home educating parents whose experience spans more than 25 years and in response to the increasingly urgent calls from many different groups and individual home educators, for an action group to complement the work of current home education support groups.

AHEd is an affiliate of the Scottish home education association, Schoolhouse, [1] who support families in Scotland, and a member of the Centre for Personalised Education Trust, whose trustees include the highly respected academic researcher on home-based education, Dr Roland Meighan, and whose member organisations are all committed to supporting personalised education.

Commenting on the urgent need for an organisation to tackle the challenges facing home educating families, co-founder and chair of AHEd, Barbara Stark, who has home educated her own children since 1980, said:

"For years home educators have tolerated unfair treatment and ultra vires practices by Local Authorities whose understanding of home-based education is, with few exceptions, minimal or non existent. We are tired of being subjected to unreasonable suspicion and unfair scrutiny when we are doing the very best for our children. We believe there are moves afoot by government to restrict traditional freedoms to educate children outside the school system and we are determined to do our utmost to prevent this." [2]

According to New Labour mantra, every child matters, yet it blatantly attempts to prescribe the same diet of schooling to every child regardless of his or her individual needs and wishes.

AHEd asserts that EACH CHILD MATTERS, individually.

Each child matters individually to parents and it is parents who have the duty to make important educational decisions. But AHEd members are deeply concerned that current proposals by government threaten to remove parental responsibility and substitute the state as the arbiter of what is best for children - from what goes into lunch boxes to what is put into minds; from the portions of vegetables eaten per day to the content of every lesson at
every stage for every child. As an alliance of concerned home educating families who put our children's needs first, we intend to make our voice heard by government."

Home educating parent and co-founding member of AHEd, Mrs Tech Wood, added:

"We must not allow the dark side of the state to create this unreasonable intrusion into private and family lives. There is a real danger that we will lose our choices on the basis that government no longer trusts parents to act in the best interest of their children. The time has come for us to stand up and defend our rights. We know from experience that our children thrive on an education that is tailored to their individual needs. Current and future generations must be allowed to continue to benefit from real choice in education because despite government rhetoric - EACH child matters."

EACH CHILD MATTERS and in order to provide properly for their individual needs, the freedom to choose the how, where and what of our children's education is essential.

(1) For comment, contact the Schoolhouse Press Officer: Alison Preuss, at

(2) DfES are undertaking a review of local authority arrangements for home educators and have written to home educators saying that the state now wishes to prescribe the form of education that takes place in the home and impose compulsory home inspections upon families in order to question children in a new role as the decider and monitor of what all children should learn including those in private provisions and in their homes. DFEs have made it clear that they are considering changes in primary legislation to enable this. Current law makes parents responsible for the education of their children and does not support the level of surveillance and interference indicated by the department. The department has described these planned changes as 'light touch changes.'

Go here for varied comment from home educators related to this agenda.

Other Issues of concern to AHEd

· The Education and Inspections Act section 94 puts all children of compulsory education age who are present in public during school hours at risk of being stopped, questioned and removed to a designated place when they have committed no crime. Excluded children will be confined to house arrest. Home educators fear their children will be similarly abducted or removed, given
that current truancy procedures already involve them and cause them problems despite government promises to the contrary.

· Every Child Matters

· Children Missing Education

· Registration regulations


Anonymous said...

Scary! It is extraordinary that the government have decided that they no longer trust the parent to make good decisions for the child, when it is extremely clear that parents should no longer trust the government.

Apparently, (Radio 4 a few days ago) social mobility has decreased significantly in the last ten years thanks to the government's inadequate educational provision.

The list of things that have worsened, thanks to the government, is so long, how can they reasonably begin to imagine that they should be making any decisions at all for our children?


Tech said...

Thanks Carlotta :-)

Anonymous said...

This organisation is anti-democratic, elitist and has no clue about about what a serious presentation consists off. It will make it worse for all of us and deserves no publicity.

I absolutely don't consider myself to be represented by people like this, that believe democracy and the opinion of the "lower home-education class" is just too inconvenient.

fluffmeister said...

Leo, not one of your accusations has any basis in reality.

I welcome the opportunity that AHEd offers HEors in the rest of the UK which previously was only available to those in Scotland through Schoolhouse.

Together with EO, HEAS and the rest I'm sure AHEd will ensure that the fully diversity of HEors have representation of their views should they wish it.

Carlotta said...

Go on Leo, I am interested, but am not quite sure that I am up to speed with your opinion.

The way I see it is that it was just a number of motivated individuals who wanted to get something up and running that could represent their views had the capacity to store important campaigning information in a place where the major thrust of it could be put up for HEors to critique and improve upon.

The advantage of this system was that subjects could be easily accessible and could be searched for by topic and important information didn't get lost in a welter of mails.

I imagine that any campaigning representation would be really polished up before it gets sent to anyone in a formal fashion...and as I understand it everything, including the front page is up for improvement.

I also thought that anyone who was sympathetic to their aims could join. Have people been excluded for reasons that are not apparent?

I think they do think that they have to exclude people who might try to sabotage or who are not broadly sympathetic to their aims, probably simply because they don't have time to cope with such extra work and their overall views do get subjected to criticism in other spaces. Their broad aims are refined ones that have already been subjected to much critique, so refinement of ideas is what they are looking for now, in which case, this seemed like a good and useful space to me.

Anonymous said...

Copied from my post to the UK-HOME-ED list:

"I see no reason why the group could not have made a smiliar announcement to this one that I am writing now for illustrative purposes:

"We are a group of people keen to set-up a organisation aimed at those who wish to take a hardline stance in defending the rights of home educators from over-zealous LEAs and others who would wish to take these rights away.

We call for anyone who is in agreement with this stance to help us form a "working group" to decide on policy issues, the name of the group, how it will be structured and the best way to proceed from here.

We are keen to work with other home ed organisations and would greatly value their input at this stage, although it must be understood that we plan to operate in a different way to existing organisations, and believe that there is a very real need for such a group to represent those whose views on how best to defend our rights may not be represented elsewhere."

Easy. Took me under a minute to write. Had I been doing this for real, I would have taken a lot longer just to do *this*, thinking carefully about how best to word it, and what impressions it would give. And that would have been way before the lauch stage! So I honestly don't see why the actual founders couldn't have done this too.

Is it really too difficult to advertise widely for a *working group* to discuss and design the organisation before there is one? Is it too much work to consult other organisations before you even do this? Is it not possible
to publish the groups most basic aims privately for those in the working group to discuss the wording and presentation before announcing them elsewhere? Is it impossible to say "Here is the basic foundation, here is an outline of what we are trying to achieve here; anyone who agrees with this please step forward and help us to package it?" Would it have been impossible to do this *before* the press release?

The answer to all of those questions is twofold - yes, it is, impossible to do any of these things *now*. But was it impossible earlier? No. Far from

The launch was mismanaged."

Carlotta, you say "I imagine that any campaigning representation would be really polished up before it gets sent to anyone in a formal fashion..." - There has already been a press release! First impressions will have already been formed, and I don't think these will have been very positive ones.

I honestly cannot understand why people think the manner of this launch was acceptable. I don't understand how people can fail to see that what this group says and does will reflect on all of us, and, thus, we should *all* have been consulted in the very early stages.

It is poorly designed. It is poorly promoted. It is poorly managed.

Maybe there should, indeed, be such a group as this one to represent people, but like *this*...? I think that it may well do far more harm than good, though I hope that I am wrong.


fluffmeister said...

To be honest Adele what you are proposing is so close to what actually happened that it is a surprise that you do not realise it despite it having been explained already on UKHE.

The idea was openly discussed on more than one list. Those that expressed an interest did set up a 'working party' to do all the things you suggested pretty much. When that was done they 'launched' to the wiser HE community and the press etc.

I guess the one thing they didn't do was keep all the other HE orgs up to date on how the idea was progressing.

I know that was deliberate in one particular case as they wished to learn from the experience of others and what they had themselves seen first hand. AHEd wanted and want to concentrate on giving representation to those HEors who were denied it and complement the other organisations NOT waste effort on reassuring or worse still battling other orgs that consider them more a rival than a fellow traveler. Schoolhouse suffered the latter fate and it was just too wasteful of value and limited time resources.

While I do understand some of your concerns it worries me that you are seeing the splinter in AHEd's eye but not the plank in that of your own organisation.

Anonymous said...

"To be honest Adele what you are proposing is so close to what actually happened that it is a surprise that you do not realise it despite it having been explained already on UKHE."

I totally disagree. That is not the way that I interpret it at all.

"The idea was openly discussed on more than one list."

Where? Where was it discussed that a group was actually being formed? Where and when did this consultation take place? I am a member of several lists and I have no recollection of anything beyond the very vaguest of speculation of such a thing being discussed anywhere.

There certainly was no concrete "A group with x aims is going to be formed, and we are calling for *anyone* with an interest in this to join a working party to get it off the ground" discussion to the best of my recollection.

"Those that expressed an interest did set up a 'working party' to do all the things you suggested pretty much. When that was done they 'launched' to the wiser HE community and the press etc."

LOL! They did this *how* exactly? Off-list emails?

They most definitely did *not* issue a public invitation for anyone with an interest to join this "working party" - that is the point.

"While I do understand some of your concerns it worries me that you are seeing the splinter in AHEd's eye but not the plank in that of your own organisation."

And what organisation is that??

Because I have concerns about the way that AHEd has been launched, packaged, and presented, that makes me affiliated with another organisation does it?


Carlotta said...


I do indeed understand some of what you say. eg: I sort of picked up that something like the development of a group was happening, but I wasn't entirely sure that I had got the full picture. I thought that this could well have been to do with me not reading all my mails. I now get a huge number per day, and do have to press delete, if I am to do anything else with my time. So it may have been that I simply missed on the most pertinent mails.

However, even in the situation that I didn't miss the most pertinent mails simply because they never existed, and a mail along the lines of the one you proposed was not sent, I do not see this as a terrible or unforgiveable mistake.

I have to think...Oh boy, I do this sort of thing at times and I do ask to be forgiven the error. For example, I sometimes make plans involving the children which I think they will enjoy, but without actually consulting them. I do this usually because I have been rung by someone, the kids are not around for time pressure and practical reasons. It is something that I hope can be forgiven, particularly as I hope that that I am doing it in their interests. It is the case that they are usually pleased with my decisions and if they aren't, I try to put the situation right.

So I do agree that the launch could quite possibly have been handled a bit better, and that the front page could do with improvement. But these don't strike me as cardinal sins. The launch cannot be easily rectified, I agree, but in some ways, I quite liked the slightly haphazard nature of it in that there was not too much bureaucrateze. It was informal, and this struck me as potentially a more democratic way to do things, paradoxically. It made me think that the whole thing didn't want to get stuck into treasurers, chair people and all that unnecessary rot. It just wanted to get out the press releases, and get all of us critiquing these.

I am SO grateful that at last there is an org that looks as if they will be able to evolve to effectively represent my views. This to me is the main thrust of what is going on.

I don't know any of the in-crowd personally. I only know them on list and through blogging. I think there is some suspicion as to who I actually am, as I don't reveal much about myself either here or on lists ( this is actually to protect the identity of my children rather than anything else) and I have even had a fair few number of disagreements with one of the founding members of the group (though for me incredibly constructive ones from which I learned a great deal)...and yet the group has welcomed me and even immediately asked me to write stuff for them.

From this I infer that they are as good as their word. They will try to include people who claim to be broadly sympathetic to their aims, and that want simply to get on with the job of not arguing about trivia but tackling the substantive issues of what to do with government policy.

I do, very much, see the group as aiming to do this and as a work in progress. The group have stated that they expect to evolve and to improve with that evolution through the help and criticism of many. If there is anyone out there, for example, who could work on the front page, that would be just brilliant.

What d'ya think?

Anonymous said...

Hi Carlotta

I'm not sure that the parent organising things for children analogy was a very wise move! ;)

However, as I know that you are a TCS parent, that makes it considerably less worrying than it might have been! :)

All the same, I would not wish to see the AHEd founders taking a parental role, even in the "parents as helpers"/"autonomy respecting relationships" view of the parent/child relationship. I hate to say it, but I think the analogy actually captures my concerns a bit rather than allaying them! Sorry! :)

The rest of your post, however, provides a reasonable and persuasive defense of AHEd and, adding this to the others that I have heard, I am prepared to say this: I shall reserve judgment on AHEd as an organisation (though I stand by my previously expressed opinions about its set-up) until we see how the group develops. This is thanks to the high level of support that they have recieved from articulate and patient people such as yourself and Alan. :)

However, I have recieved a few emails off-list from people who agree with the things that I have been saying on UK-HOME-ED and it does seem that there are further issues of concern here (which I will not go into, as information was given to me in confidence) so I'm not ready to string up the welcome banners just yet!

"...and yet the group has welcomed me and even immediately asked me to write stuff for them."

On the whole I would guess that this is because you write well and they recognise this and would value your input. :)

However, be cautious, okay? Requesting involvement and adding in a pinch of flattery, can be good manipulative tactics to silence potential opposition. I am honestly not saying that this is the case here, in fact I doubt that it is, but please do remain on guard, won't you?

"What d'ya think?"

As I said on the list, is it possible to build anything of worth on poor foundations...?

I'm sceptical. Very sceptical. But
I will reserve judgement for now, and watch for further developments. I sincerely hope that you are right. :)

Anonymous said...

Oops, forgot to sign my post! The one above is mine!


fluffmeister said...


Adele, I might have put two and two together and got about seven.

From what I remembered you were more directly involved in another organisation (EO, I might as well say) that you have now stated clearly.

As I am aware that some deliberately inaccurate information has been circulated by a small number of people with it's inner circle, I assumed that was feeding some of your views. I apologise if that was incorrect.

At the same time you do now mention offlist emails that have raised concerns that you do not detail. I would give you the same advice you gave Carlotta 'be cautious, okay'.

I know from attacks and outright misinformation on /about myself simply because of my involvement with another group, that there are a handful of people who seem to be prepared to do anything to undo a 'rival' that simply wants to offer another option not a replacement.

Anonymous said...


Firstly, I'm not actually 100% certain who this is that I'm talking to here - are you Alan? The name "Fluffmeister" suggests so, but it's as well to make certain! :)

I'm not directly involved in EO, other than being a (lapsed, but the cheque's in the mail! LOL) member and I certainly have no involvement with their "inner circle".

From what I have seen on lists, EO does not appear to be treating AHEd as a "rival" organisation in any way. I have only heard such an expression used by AHEd themselves!

I will, indeed, be cautious; thank you for the warning. I'm quite sceptical by nature in some ways (as should be apparent by my "warning" to Carlotta!) so I do tend to run things that people say through several mental filters before deciding how much credence to give them anyway. :)

Assuming this *is* Alan (ignore if not! LOL); I thought we'd agreed that, as we're both in Scotland so won't be directly affected anyway, we would now (as you put it)leave our Southern neighbours to it!

I'm happy to continue the conversation off-list (and "off-blog"!) if you wish though.

I said I'd email you off-list later (re Schoolhouse) anyway, so maybe it would be better if we continue this conversation privately, and stop crowding Carlotta's comments box by retreading old ground! :)



Carlotta said...

Thanks for the comments, peeps. Will bear them in mind.

My feeling is that I will try to remain on-task in so far as I will aim to set about critiquing government policy etc. I will try to remain open to criticism on this subject, and will try (as I mostly always strive to do) to listen to alternative viewpoints, though not without showing a preference for one idea over another until someone convinces me otherwise.

Am fairly used to being slated for my views, so don't mind too much risking providing an alternative view, when I think it a better one, so I do say thank you to Adele for reminding me that this should remain a priority, even in the situation that one feels rather swept away by an org who well represents one's views.

It strikes me that the situation we face with regard to threats to HE legislation is such a tricky one, and that it is therefore hardly surprising that we should all have slightly different takes on how best to tackle the situation. I do give very serious thought to the propositions put forward by EO. Indeed I am very grateful to EO for all the information gathering it has already achieved, and I do also think that I understand how the chipping away that they do can sometimes work.

I know that when I personally meet someone with very entrenched views , say about treating children in an abusive fashion, I don't necessarily wade in with the full TCS agenda. I just sort of wait it out and gently chip away at their ideas, often starting out as if I completely understand where they are coming from, and sometimes in the end (as with a person yesterday - a previously complete schoolie devotee), they completely change their minds. (She said she is desperate to HE! - this took 5 whole years of gentle chipping! )

So perhaps there is some validity in this kind of approach...though my feeling atm on this is that there is so little time that we may just have to wade in with the full armoury, putting all the strongest counter-arguments immediately, including neat descriptions of the terrible consequences to LAs and HEors should legislators dare to tinker with HE law.

Perhaps there really is room for more than one approach...?

Anonymous said...

I apologise for not having time to read the whole debate here, I just want to explain my opinion further.

This is a quote from a post in UKHE from one of the founders:

"However much you want to be open and democratic about setting up an organisation, setting it up in the glare of publicity, with lots of people from competing organisations, watching and putting in their opinion, is not an option. That's an invitation to have the
whole idea of an alternative organisation torn to shreds and destroyed before it has a chance to begin."

If this is not calling democracy inconvenient I don't know what it is.

"Tearing to shreds" is criticism. Criticism is important and useful for knowledge to evolve. It doesn't have to stop people doing things unless they decide to stop themselves.

The form the organistation is presenting itself is also important. The site looks cool, but not for the seriousness of the issue.

Crumpled paper makes it look like the text is something you fished off the bin - either rubbish or something you were unsure about. Typewriting font and Dymo are outdated. Black and denim would be a cool design if we were the underground garage band or a few amateur designers advertising a dark computer game. Because that's the idea this site gives the people I asked, some of them professionals in webdesign.

Don't take me wrong, the design is much better than many Comic MS pages I see around, but I'm not wanting to play the alternative gang with my friends.

I am parent wanting to be serious about my responsibility. I am a parent wanting to defend my offspring learning autonomy and that doesn't have their life wasted by other people's agendas, no matter how important or how right or how entitled they think they are.

Carlotta said...

I think you make very good points, Leo.

My feeling is though that now that the org is up and running, they are open to criticism.

I personally would see you doing the front page, if it were left to me! Would you offer?