Friday, March 30, 2007

Tony Mooney Is At It Again

The response from the home education community to Tony Mooney's latest pronouncements on HE in the TES has been impressive, immediate and compelling.

From the TES's discussion board:

"Myra Robinson's suggestion that "all the rights are in favour of the parent" is a misguided statement. There are adequate laws in place to protect the children of home educated families. It is up to the Local Authorities to implement the laws if they feel there is a cause for concern. If the LA and their employees do not use the law to protect the children then it is their failure."

and from S.Deuchar

"The quoted figure of 150,000 home-educated children is a serious over-estimate, (home-education researchers estimate the number as up to 65,000 with about 35,000 known their LEA). The inspectors estimate that "about a quarter of parents provide nothing". This may mean that 25% of the families they know about (up to 9000 children) are not providing an education suitable to the age, aptitude and ability of the child. If this is true, why are the inspectors not using the mechanisms of s437 of the Education Act to issue a School Attendance Order for these children? If it is not true, they are slandering a large number of parents who are doing the best that they can for children, many of whom have been failed by schools."

And elsewhere:

"The article also contains no evidence or basis for the claim that one in four home educating families is not providing a suitable education, other than the unsubstantiated opinions of two individuals."

And could the Dragon of the Valleys possibly have a point about a conflict of interest? You decide:

"Known facts about Tony Mooney:

1) Ex-science teacher
2) Ex-headmaster
3) EHE inspector for hire who doesn't believe EHE is possible unless
you're a nice middle class family who hires private tutors.
4) Private tutor for hire. Shocking conflict of interest.
5) Rent-a-gob pushing his own prejudices & self interest."


Bishop Hill said...

A few thoughts. If there is a, presumably small, subsection of children who don't go to school who are not in fact receiving an education, then HE parents need to try to differentiate themselves. You need to develop a name for these families, so you can say "But these aren't HE children they're..." whatever.

Ruth said...

"The inspectors estimate that "about a quarter of parents provide nothing"

Given that most inspectors are not that impressed with what is provided I find it hard to believe that so many HE are managing to avoid SAO by, presumably, admitting they provide nothing. Where do they get the statistics from? It is probable a very small number do not provide anything but nothing like 25%

Allie said...

They clearly just made up that 'one in four' claim. They give no source for this at all.

Carlotta said...

Hi Bishop,

I think there has been a move afoot along the sort of lines you suggest eg: describing people as Electively Home Educating, thereby distinguishing them from those who have been excluded from school or are otherwise unable to attend it and perhaps are using EOTAS schemes, etc.

I don't know though if this helps in the minds of LAs who may continue to think that those who claim to be EHE may actually not be doing so.

Gill said...

When they say "about a quarter of parents provide nothing", are they referring to autonomous education? Because that does provide nothing in terms of forcing a child to sit at a desk all day, writing, which is some people's weird definition of education.

Carlotta said...

mgwIt's hard to tell from the article what Myra Robinson is referring to but my guess is that is more than likely that she has no understanding at all about autonomous education.

This wouldn't come as a big surprise since we regularly hear of LA inspectors who don't have any familiarity with AE or understand how well it works, eg: why the child may not be producing written work for inspection. Naturally this doesn't necessarily mean that this child is not being educated, and Robinson and Mooney do perhaps need to be helped to understand this point.

May make it a requirement that any LA inspector who comes near us has read Alan Thomas's "Educating Children at Home".

Gill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gill said...

Once more with proper spelling ^^..

"Robinson and Mooney do perhaps need to be helped to understand this point."

I think this is the best, most urgent course of action - not, as EO seems to have done, complain about being associated with 'ucky truanting children' (my interpretation of their words.)

The moot point, IMO, is defining the difference(s) between educational neglect and autonomous learning. Every LA/HE liaison officer should fully understand this, or they don't stand a chance of being able to do their job properly.

"May make it a requirement that any LA inspector who comes near us has read Alan Thomas's "Educating Children at Home"."

Very good idea.

Gill said...

This is the EO thing I'm referring to.

thenewstead5 said...

I was actually quoted out of context - which means that yes the TES article looks like we are pointing the finger at the truancy issue. The BBC picked up on the quote - and on the one by Myra herself in the inside TES story; the TES reporter said that one of the inspectors had first told her about it, and I just confirmed we'd heard of it.

The point of schools encouraging truants to deregister had no place in the story the TES wrote, and is an entirely separate issue.

Sadly, the TES seemed more interested in flaming HE than reporting facts. Have you seen the cartoon on page 25 of the publication?