Monday, March 05, 2007

Mr Mooney Again, This Time on Radio London

Good grief, Mr Mooney has been putting himself about a bit over the weekend. On Saturday he could be found on Radio 4, contributing to the misunderstandings that persist in the public mind about home education; and it materialises that he was at it again on Sunday, this time on the Eddie Nestor show on Radio London.

From 49 mins into the show, a transcript of Mr Mooney's section:

EN = Eddie Nestor. TM = Tony Mooney.

= = = = = = = = = =

EN: I'm joined on the phone by Tony Mooney, a LEA inspector for homeschooling. Good morning, Tony.

TM: Good morning.

EN: Thank you for joining us. So give us an idea then. Does home schooling actually work?

TM: It can in some cases. But there's a lot of effort has to go in. I notice that those children who were being interviewed were up to the age of 10. I do secondary home education and I tell you, even the most committed parents who've got money and time find it very difficult to sustain up to the age of 16. Um, it's really hard work.

EN: But we hear all the time, I mean we did a feature on Friday about 9 year olds who get a levels in Maths, and you can imagine that lots of them are home tutored. If you do get it right, is it not the cure-all?

TM. Well it is not the cure all because, I mean you are talking about 9 year olds who get A levels, who is teaching them, the parents? I mean, I am a maths and science teacher. OK, I could get them through maths and science, but the other subjects that I think youngsters should be taught, I just wouldn't have the expertise or the confidence to teach them.

EN: OK, give us some idea of what the rules are in terms of being monitored then.

TM: Well, they are very lax indeed. I think it is actually a national disgrace. I quote for you, Lord Donaldson said in 1980 in the case of Philips v. Brown that of course, a request that we make which is going to be informal, which is going to see them, or see the children, it has got to be informal, and parents will be under no duty to comply. However, it would be sensible for them to do so but then if they do so, there is no right for the inspector to go to the home, or to see the children. They can write a report about what's happening, and some examples of work, but we don't really know what is going on.

EN: yeah but, you sound really doubtful about this. What evidence do you have that people perhaps keep their children at home just not to do anything as opposed to doing work and trying to give their children the best possible start.

TM: Well, my experience is that I go to homes where youngsters have been pulled out for bullying, as your report said, or because the parents not happy with the school. But then, they don't know what to do. In fact, I find myself giving advise to them, telling them which books to buy, how to study it, and then....

EN: is that not your job though?

TM: No, that is not my job.

EN: Oh right. Your job is not to help and support.

TM: No. My job is to report to my education authority that the progress is satisfactory or not satisfactory as the case may be.


TM: If it is satisfactory then I don't have to go back for another year.

EN: That's a long time when we are talking about a child's education.

TM: A very long time, and I have seen youngsters being educated one year. It's OK, because the parents are keen and enthusiastic, but the next year the parents have run out of time and patience and the youngster is getting a bit stroppy about it. So the education, I have to report, is unsatisfactory; and then I go back within the next six months.

EN: You know what did scare me about the report that Anna brought us, it did sound as if the children were in that wrong of me?

TM: The children are in control, yes. That's my experience. They are dictating how their education should go and what they want to do and what they don't want to do.

EN: That's not a child's place though is it?

TM: I don't think it is. I think when youngsters get out of the primary stage should be following a logical, structured course of study and it's not the case in many of the families I go to.

EN: Do you think it is increasing, that many more families are choosing to do it?

TM: It is increasing. I mean your report said that the government report said that there were between 7.5k and 35k, Education Otherwise a group of people or a body that helps parents
who are educating at home say it is nearly 200, 000.

EN. Certainly the figure that I had. It was over 100k. In my head in terms of the people I talk to about doing this. Can I just ask one question as we have the news coming up soon, in conclusion, are there particular types of children that you think fare better being taught at home?

TM: Yes, parents who have got lots of money, lots of time, lots of books around the house, who are educated themselves, those are the ones who provide in general the best home education, but a lot of the families I see are on working class estates who have been pulled out of school for bullying or truanting and it is nothing like that at all.

EN: Tony, can I say thank you very much for speaking to us.

= = = = = = = =

At the very least, someone from EO should be putting Mr Mooney and Mr Nestor right on the matter of numbers. As for correcting all the other errors, members of Action for Home Education are already writing a full complaint to the BBC about his other piece on Radio 4. Looks as if they may have to be getting on to Radio London as well.


Gill said...

Hi Carlotta. Thanks for transcribing this. I think it's highly irregular, to say the least, that an advisor to LEAs about HE should be making such blatantly biased statements about teaching and learning styles. As I understand it, Mr Mooney is an ex-headmaster and teacher, which does not qualify him as an expert in home education.

For him to be in the powerful position of judging HE provision when he is so obviously prejudiced against one of the main learning methods employed is scandalous, IMO.

Sharon said...

Thanks for the transcribe. I've just sent an e-mail to Mr Nestor.
That Mooney is something else. What about his complaint that it's not his job to advice HE families when they ask for it. Would it be beyond him to give people a link or phone number for one of the MANY HE support groups. Though, given his lack of knowledge on so many points, perhaps he doesn't know about EO etc.

Rachel Reed said...

This man seems to know next to nothing about HE. His experience seems to be limited to families with truenting children who claim they are HEing to stop getting into trouble.

This is a completely separate issue. He can't seem to differentiate.

His comments - esp regarding a child being forced to study a curriculum are outdated and not thought out. He is a government cog and wants everyone else to be monitored so that they are government cogs too.

He also seems to spreading himself about so that he can sell more articles to newspapers.

Qalballah said...

Its seems odd that people from the LEA are asked to oversee homeschooling at all. I mean, don't they have a vested interest in the school trade? A bit like asking a slave owner to over see slavery abolition. They should at least get an independent body to deal with HEers.

I want to hide up a mountain. Who's joining me??

Anonymous said...

How can we show that the below is just ageist prejudice?

"TM: The children are in control, yes. That's my experience. They are dictating how their education should go and what they want to do and what they don't want to do.

EN: That's not a child's place though is it?

TM: I don't think it is."


Ruth said...

I agree Debbie. I have been saying that *if* the day comes we have to be monitored it should not be done by LA's.

Anonymous said...

The ageist prejudice thing is the main problem. Autonomous Home Education might be the downfall of HE, when it is - possibly - the single best thing...

Interesting that they are prepared to leave the rich and eduacated alone.

IndigoShirl said...

I see Mr Mooney seems to be doing a good job in misinformation - very handy.

Once again the poorer members of society get it in the neck.

He's such a bigot!

Anonymous said...

"Interesting that they are prepared to leave the rich and eduacated alone."

It would not be a problem for Carlotta, innit? She already showed us she has lotsa books.


Anonymous said...

Ah, these anonymous people are sooo easy to identify! Don't you think? :P

Anonymous said...

I can never tell who is who myself. The question is, do you think the LEA idiot can tell? I might not have enough books to please.

Anonymous said...

"I can never tell who is who myself."

It's not always possible, but sometimes there's clear give aways - like the "innit?" thing is quite a trademark of the poster, as is the topic.

"The question is, do you think the LEA idiot can tell? I might not have enough books to please."

They should sell ready outfitted bookcases complete with an impressive and varied collection, with their spines slightly worn to look like they've been read a lot. I'm sure there must be a market for such things. ;)

Anonymous said...

I agree, that "innit" person was so obvious.

Dear anonymous previous to me, you should write that idea to IKEA!

Anonymous said...

Ikea?? Come on, what middle class person shops in Ikea? This is about convincing the "LEA idiots" that we're all middle class and stuff, isn't it? So I reckon we'd need to aim a bit higher brow than that...

The anonymous people should be numbered, by the way.

Can I be 33,452? :P

Or to be more sensible (which isn't as much fun, but at least it's less confusing!)my posts so far are 3, 5, and 7 of the anonymous ones! :D

Anonymous said...

33, 452 -

That is a blatant lie. Anonymous post 5 was actually mine - you're just trying to steal the credit!!


Carlotta said... I'm really confused re who is who!

Yep, OK, am middle class, but am also sure that this doesn't exempt us from inspection and injustice. Sally Clark was a solicitor, and Ian and Angela Gay were described as a wealthy couple, for example.

Anonymous said...

How rich do you think parents need to be to be safe from hassle?

It seems a poor immigrant would not have much of a chance if they think some middle class people are not doing it well enough!

Anonymous said...

"How rich do you think parents need to be to be safe from hassle?

It seems a poor immigrant would not have much of a chance if they think some middle class people are not doing it well enough!"

*On an individual basis* the prejudice is not about wealth. It's about culture.

Such class prejudice has less to do with a person's finances and more to do with other factors.

An articulate, intelligent, well-mannered, "poor immigrant" would not be the subject of such prejudices.

A rich, dyed hair, burberry wearing, Cockney, with a poor vocabulary might be.

LEA inspectors would identify themselves with the former, not the latter.

In a subconsious divison of people into "them" and "us" categories by authorities, the eloquent "poor immigrant" would be mentally bracketed in the "us" category, and the "rich Cockney" into "them" - "us" being people authorities think they identify with and understand, and "them" being the people who they consider need their "help" (for "help" read interference, intervention, and persecution!)

It's a horrible and unjust way of looking at it, and, thankfully, not all officials are that closed-minded. But, if we are going to see it that the authorities are gunning for someone, then we should, at least, be accurate about *who* they are gunning *for*.

The class prejudice in Britain is not directly realted to a person's financial circumstances. It's not that simple.

*However*, you do have a point in believing those in low income brackets to be more subject to the unwanted attentions of authorities, as there are more "uncultured" (in the prejudiced view, not my own) people in low income brackets than there are in high ones. (Which may well be *because* of culture prejudice! Perhaps so-called "uncultured" people are discriminated against in the workplace so are less likely to make it into a high income bracket? An interesting possibility, but one that is far too OT for now!) Thus, the powers that be will aim their little schemes at low income families hoping to "catch" as many "uncultured" people as possible this way.

But in direct, face-to-face, contact the eloquent "poor immigrant" would not be the subject of class prejudice by LEA officers or other authority figures.

Carlotta: The case of Sally Clark is a poor example (no offence meant) - there's just no parallel between such cases and institutional prejudices about who is and isn't capable of providing their children with an education.

The only similarity is the injustice, but it was not an injustice based on class prejudice, so it doesn't fit here.

I take it that your point was exactly that - that injustice can occur regardless of a person's social class? Well, yes, of course it can, but that doesn't mean that injustice *doesn't* occur *solely because* of class prejudice, does it? It simply means that there is more than one form of injustice.

(Signed: 33, 452)