Sunday, October 21, 2007

Problems for Legislators with Definition of Education

Further on the 2006 DfES consultation on a proposal to provide further guidance as to what constitutes full time education in independent schools to which many home educators responded, we have a follow-up consultation which, amongst some other sources of contention and alarm, does little to solve the original problem of how one ascertains who is the main provider of an education.

The problem with the first consultation was that if the phrase "main provider of education" is to mean what it apparently says, then presumably a private pupil who accumulates more theories from his parents than from his school will be counted as home educated and will therefore be excluded from regulations that apply to private schools. Of course, quite how the state proposed to make such an assessment was utterly baffling and demonstrated very neatly the poor epistemology that underpins much of the legislation on education.

However, for the purposes of this next consultation, the DCSF have changed the phrase from "main provider" to "main organiser" of education, presumably hoping to shift the balance from the need to demonstrate from whence the majority of a child's theories have been acquired, to an apparently more quantifiable task of working out who plans and implements the majority of the education of the child. It doesn't work though, since you still have to answer the impossible question of from whence the child acquires the greater number of his theories since this is the only way to ascertain who (or what) is the real main organiser of his education.

However, it looks as if we will be required to suspend disbelief in this regard since the DCSF

"have concluded that the best approach is to adjust the definition of an independent school so as to specify that an independent school is the main organiser of a programme of education for children of compulsory school age, unless provision is excluded through regulations."


"We would propose that regulations exclude:

schools maintained by a local authority;
non-maintained special schools;
temporary provision e.g. summer schools;
any institutions providing
less than 12.5 hours per week tuition (primary) and 15 hours (secondary) for individual children;
further education colleges;
hospital schools;
home tutorial services organised by a local authority;
education supervised or delivered by parents"

Disbelief suspended as above, the confusion here concerns the last point, ie: "education supervised or delivered by parents", since under Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act, the education of all children is meant to be supervised by parents which would presumably therefore mean that none of the regulations for independent schools would apply anywhere. On the other hand, home educators will fight tooth and nail to stop this phrase from being changed because it would rule out the use of tutors for more than the stipulated hours (in red).

The problem might be superficially solved (ie: putting aside the outstanding problem of quantification of education) to ask that both individual private tutors teaching on domestic premises and informal co-operatives without a fixed meeting place be excluded from the requirement to register.

Home educators might do well to respond to this further consultation to make these points.


Anonymous said...

I don't see what is the problem with this one? Parents are not insititutions. Unless as a group hiring tutors they would be considered an institution?

Ruth said...

I agree Leo. The people making a fuss seems to be the few involved with parent run private schools which don't want to be classified as such. I've seen a few posts around which aim to get the whole HE community up in arms by convincing us that HE is itself at risk.

Ruth said...

Commenting on Carlotta's blog entry. Since when has education been defined by the "number of theories" a child has? That doesn't make any sense at all! Even if you picked a definition of the word that could be applied you'd then have to ignore all the facts and skills that a child learns which are at least as important as 'theories'. A time based approach may have it's faults but it has the advantage of being measurable.

p.s. why does the word verification never work the first time?

Anonymous said...

It does seem odd to devalue the input of parents. Unless perhaps it is because this conveniently removes the obligation for them to genuinely measure from where do the children really receive their education!

Personally I can't see that defining education by hours spent supposedly learning is more valid than looking at the number of 'theories' a child might have acquired. 'Theories' covers, imo, all facts and skills as all are fundamentally composed of a multitude of theories.

I would agree with Carlotta's blog that their comments just reveal poor epistemology.

D (Incidentally, Ruth, I managed to get previewed on first word verification, although this is the first time that has happened! Usually I think a more legible series of letters comes up second.)

Carlotta said...

Hi Ruth,

re "theories" query. I was using the term "theories" in the broadest possible sense. ie: to cover the experience of enactment of all forms of knowledge in the mind eg: the act of smelling something would be the enactment of the theory of that smell!

I agree that this is not a standard way of defining education as such, but it seems to me that what matters about education is the enactment of theories in the mind of the learner, and that this is therefore how it should be defined, even if this definition means that it cannot then be accurately measured.

The amount of time a child stays in a supposed learning environment is of course no measure at all on how many theories (in the broadest sense) are enacted in his mind and by the same argument, I would therefore say that it is absolutely no measure of his education.

Oh yes, also....
I used to have the problem you mention with the word verification, but no longer this something to do with cookies, I wonder???

Carlotta said...

I think the problem you mention is the main area of difficulty, Leo, though am not sure about how many HEors this would apply to.

My other main worry, I think, is the drip, drip effect here: yet more regulation, intrusion and monitoring surrounding private forms of education. They came for them, they will come for us as constituting even more of an anomaly.

Plus, their exclusion of parents who supervise and deliver education from these new regulations comes darn close to
conflicting with Section 7 of 1996 Ed Act; ie: does this mean that parents who send their children to school are formally no longer responsible for supervision of education of children? IF so, eek as that is getting close to being a problem for all of us, I think.

Carlotta said...

Sorry, D - just read your comment and have realised that you have already explained what I then managed to say less well.