Saturday, September 29, 2007

DSCF's Day of Debate

So here (finally), is the press release re the DSCF's "day of debate to shape our children's future".

Of course if you are a right-minded parent, it is hard not to be alarmed by the possible interpretations of the word "our". Just who exactly do the DSCF think that children actually belong to? This is all the more worrying for the fact that the debate seems to be framed so as to allow the state to muscle in even further on the job of parenting.

It's even worse for the purists amongst us for whom the word "our" in this context is sacrilege. For these antipodeans, it is quite clear that children only belong to themselves. Yeah, stick that item on your agenda, please.

Perhaps this sort of contrariness is the reason for the tardiness of the public announcement. It seems quite likely that the DCSF didn't want to tell the wider public about the debate till the last minute because they were didn't want non-conformist interest groups muscling in on this event. Ho hum - if the government carry on like this, the idea that consultation will inform democracy will start to look even more implausible.

Yet who could blame these interest groups for wanting a say when you read that the consultation:

"will help shape the Government’s ‘Children’s Plan’ - which will set out how, over the next decade, the Government, parents, the voluntary sector and schools can work together to ensure that every child gets the best start in life and the support they need to fulfil their potential and be happy, healthy and safe."

Yep, a decade of doing what the government and 400 probably fairly innocent, randomly selected people say! Yikes that's serious, and the worry is that is very easy for the innocent to be spun along by all the five desired outcomes of the Every Child Matters agenda. After all, most of us would want our children to be able to lead satisfactory lives in the way the goverment prescribes and it is therefore very easy to be lulled into the idea that the government could just be so obliging as to help everyone achieve this. But if they are wise, the 400 should pause and ask themselves if they want to achieve these outcomes with the state holding their hand and telling them what to do all the way, for if they don't make a stand against government diktat, there will be no room for taking responsibility for ourselves and for thinking outside the tick boxes that will be set for us. If the 400 fall for it, and they doubtless will, our lives will be scrutinized, inspected, judged and controlled to a degree that we have never known before.

Even worse, we hear that:

"in addition to the public consultation there are three expert groups chaired by Children, Schools and Families Ministers. Jo Davison, Director of Children’s Services in Gloucester co-chairs the group looking at all services for 0-7 year olds with Beverley Hughes."

This is bad news because this Jo is the very one who lobbied government for more powers to intrude upon home educators in what looked like an attempt to deflect criticism of her departments following their failures to act in the Spry case.

Our last remaining hope, (and I do admit that the will to keep fighting has almost left me, save for the fact that I see unfettered, personalised home education working so perfectly for the children here) is that the 400 innocent folk is actually approximately 390 innocent folk, for a few members of Education Otherwise have managed to muscle in on most of the consultation groups.

Shout loudly for freedom, EO and reiterate the killer argument: that if the state does intrude and dictate, they in effect take over responsibility for parenting and education, and we will have nothing better to do than take them to the courts when they fail children.

Oh yes, and if the rest of us still haven't succumbed to utter cynicism about the consultation process and fancy making this point again, you can try to help EO out with this short e-consult here.


Wobblymoo said...

I think we all have a touch of fatigue, I am very grateful to those who are still working tirelessly.

Pete said...

Hang on, you do know that all these "time to talk" initiatives are being run by a PR company? This weeks' Private Eye has a very good dissection of the plans for the NHS version, which looks essentially to be "Listen while we tell you why you should do what we want, framed in such a way that dissension will be seen as betrayal of children, then vote like the audience in who wants to be a millionaire".

This is not consultation. This is an attempt to get organisations to appear to rubber stamp policy.

Tech said...

My children's future is in the hands of EO? Well that just fills me with confidence. God help us all. Yep, flame away, I'm past caring.

Anonymous said...

tech I have to agree with you. EO are aparachicks in thin disguise. Just read their response to the consultation.

and as for "time to talk" being run by a PR company, this has been discussed in the open; if the HE community does not start to use PR in the same way that the government does we will not be able to win the propaganda war and HE as we know it will be dismantled.

Elaine said...

I think the problem is that ten per cent of the vote is going to achieve zilch wheras accepting the invitation without first ascertaining that the invited participants would result in a balanced input means the 10% group have given their name to something over which they have no real control.
I believe that as gov are using propaganda e.g. spry then so too should we. I know of many parents of disabled children who are either sending the children to school knowing they are not recieving adequate care or having children refused places. Surely approaching groups for examples of bad practise knowing as we do that gov have limited ammo to return fire with and properly publicising would not only educate the 90% it would also hopefully help those who do wish to obtain a state education for their child (however misguided we may consider them to be :) )

Carlotta said...

Good idea Elaine. That is not fighting dirty. That is simply telling like it is for once, unlike all those Ofsted and NAO reports where they just tell the government and parents what they want to hear, regardless of the apparent truth of the matter.

Carlotta said...

I also guess we just can't lose sight of the one argument we have, though with all this consulting, they are doing their utmost to make us do just that....that if the state really wants to take on responsibility for parenting and education, they will be screwed by the courts.

I do personally know a number of the HEors who went along today and these ones really are not apparatchiks, and I think would do their utmost to keep reminding the government of the above fact.

Anonymous said...

Well this EO AND AHED member went along and did my best.
I didn't answer the questions the way they wanted, I did make sure my responses were typed up (by sitting next to the typist on the table) and registered my disapproval to some of the set up answers in the same way.
I banged the "leave us alone/families should be able to choose whether or not to engage with the services/Give families correct information about services and choices" drum as loudly as I could-and got a few people rethinking their answers and points of view along the way.
Rightly or wrongly I decided to go along as a representative of the autonomous home ed community. I know there are arguments for not engaging with them but on the balance of things I decided to be in there and shouting loud for our choices to be respected. I was cheered to find there was a high number of young people there and I found that most of the people I was talking to directly didn't disagree with me.
Who knows whether it will get us anywhere-and I am a great cynic to all of this Government's motivations and there are of course hidden agendas but it seemed to me to be worth a shot

regards Julie (no shoes) Bunker

Anonymous said...

I'm still the one responsible for my child no matter what they say. The only other people my child allows to be responsible for him are his grandparents. The state can suck its thumb.

Tech said...

We have been stuck in defensive mode for far too long. It's time we got angry and made *the other side* have to defend their failures. I would like to see the figures on the anomaly campaign be used to pack a real punch; we already know that gov started to get a bit defensive when we hit them with that campaign - time to take it to a wider audience. I'm sick and tired of hearing all these stories about *how great home ed is*, yes it is, but you know I think that people generally are starting to see this - it's time that parents the length and breadth of the country started to sit up and think about just what is being done to the health, safety and sanity of their children. Lets not sit on the fence anymore, lets stop trying to appease people. Everyday we hear horror stories from schools, yet these are sold as isolated incidents - the bigger picture is never painted, and those who have had to take their children out of school in order to protect them are left having to defend their choices. It's not right and we need to get very angry about it whilst we still have a chance.

Raquel said...

Julie! Good for you!

I think it was essential that home edders were there to counter the misinformation!

Carlotta said...

What do you suggest, Tech?

Am wondering if AHED should link up for a big campaign with orgs such as cruel@school which do document the terrible consequences of school bullying and promote HE as a solution, and with orgs that represent people who were otherwise failed by their schools. I understand there already is one for those who were failed by their private schools; perhaps if there isn't one already, there needs to be one for those failed by their state schools!

Then go for a big, collective publicity drive and campaign to counteract all this phoney reporting from Ofsted and the like who appear to go around with their eyes shut and who tell their paymasters and parents who prefer to ignore the problems just exactly what they want to hear. Ofsted dare to tell me my local secondary schools are great places, when all of the pupils I know there have been brutalised in one way or another. We need to tell the real story for once.

Fiona said...

I agree with Tech that AHEd could do more of a follow-up to the anomaly postcard campaign.

Fiona ( EO apparatchik )

Tech said...

Been mulling, not ignoring your question - have emailed.

Tech said...

Further to the anomaly campaign... I was just thinking that it could be a good angle if we state that when presented with the appalling figures, gov/dfes as was, were more concerned with forging a party line about how to respond to them supposedly calling us an anomaly, than to even attempt to dispute the shocking figures. I think this can be used to good effect with regard their latest round of consultation into doing the best for children. They are already very aware that they are not doing what is best for children, we have FOI info which appears to show that they didn't think to dispute our figures, yet they expect parents to submit to their latest ideas about parenting/child raising.

Barbara Stark said...

A *day* of debate? Sorry we are otherwise engaged. As to the plans for our lives, we have already made our own. So no thanks. You don't get the job. Not even the short list. Don't phone us.