Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Pet Hates

OK, I'm feeling a bit tetchy right now. It could be the flu, but I am pretty sure that even if I were in tip-top condition, I would be hoppingly irritated by quite a number of the statements made by local authorites in their responses to the consultation on guidance for home education. It's the potent combination of local authority ignorance, their inability to see how inequitable they would like to be and their inability to think through the consequences that really gets to me.

By way of an example, take this statement from Brighton and Hove:

" What happens if a child wants to go to school but the parent doesn’t want this? Who advocates for the child? Is the parent’s decision overriding? "

Ignorance: most home educated children are absolutely thrilled to be home educating. I personally don't know a single one who isn't. In addition, every home educating parent I know would send their child to school if the child wanted to go. They might do this reluctantly, given what they know about schools, but if the child chose this, they would go with it. I suspect therefore that the problem of a child being kept at home against their will is absolutely MINISCULE. If LA personel actually knew anything about most HE families, they would know this already.

Inability to spot the inequitable nature of their demands: If LA's really feel they must intervene in families to check where are child wants to be educated, will they ensure that children who say they don't want to go to school can be educated at home? No? Then don't demand this of the HE community, because it is clearly hugely inequitable.

Inability to think through the consequences: In setting out to ask all HEKs where they would prefer to be educated, and then presumably determining that a child must be sent to school if he says he would prefer it, LAs would be over-riding the principle of parental responsibility for education. Once that has gone, LAs would become responsible for a child's education, so for example, when a child is failed by school, that family would have a case.

Phew, actually I feel better for getting that off my chest, even if the flu will take a little longer.


Lisa G said...

This was something I pointed out to my own LEA, the irony of them demanding to know my dd's views on being home educated when they couldn't have cared less what her views were when she was in school!
I also agree that home ed kids wanting to go back to school is not an issue. I've recently wrote about this and I recognise my dd may one day change her mind and want to return, and as unlikely as that is I would never stand in her way and I don't know anyone else who would in regards to their own children.
p.s. get well soon!

Anonymous said...

No big surprise, Brighton and Hove are one of the really, really bad LAs. If I lived there I would probably pack up and move!

We are indeed lucky that the government listened to us not the LAs!

Dani said...

Actually, for most HEors, in everyday practice, Brighton & Hove are not that bad. I wouldn't describe them as one of the really really bad LAs.

What I find objectionable about B&H is something they have in common with lots of other authorities - their inconsistent behaviour (which leaves families at the mercy of the prejudices of individual officers, and means that some people are treated politely and pleasantly while others are treated much more shoddily), and their lack of a coherent and fair policy on HE, which could govern the behaviour of staff from social services and education welfare as well as the ones who usually contact HEors.

We were of course disappointed with their response to the consultation, and have told them so (see for what we have been up do).

All in all, there are plenty of excellent reasons to live here, which far outweigh the LA's reluctance to adopt a thoroughly friendly policy towards us!

Dani said...


"up to" not "up do"

Raquel said...

That comment from B&H is so ridiculous..and it mirrors the thinking of most local authorities no doubt. A child kept at home to home educate against their wishes is very rare, and I have yet to meet one, yet just about every child I know in school wishes they weren't there. Of course when parents shove their children into school against their wishes, then the parents are "doing the right thing, they are being strong"..but if we make a parental decision about the education of our child and it doesn't include school, then we are uncaring and unresponsive to our children's wishes... such biased thinking has no place from people who are employed by the public.

Raquel said...

oh and flu really sucks..hope you get well soon x

Carlotta said...

I agree re the problem of inconsistency, Dani. It seems to be a fairly widespread problem too, and one that has emerged all the more vividly since it has become apparent that several LA responses to the consult where much more antagonistic to HE than their resident HEors would have expected. We're thinking: if LAs aren't as nice as they pretend to be, we cannot be certain that they won't suddenly be completely unreasonable.

This sort of problem contributes to the HEing community's sense of low-grade rumbling anxiety: your HEing friends down the road might have had a good experience, but does that necessarily mean you will too? I would have said the problem of uneven treatment between families definitely happens in one of the groups of HEors we meet with, would you not say, L?

Oh and thanks for the get wells. I thought that First Defence stuff had worked really well to start off with, but it now rather looks as if it caused the whole thing to drag itself out all the more. Eek.

Carlotta said...

Raquel...good to hear it is the same in your area with regard to HEKs being perfectly happy with their lot.

We routinely meet with HEors in 4 distinct areas (and an extra one on an intermittent basis)..., and all these HEKs would never want to be in school... but good to hear it applies in your area too.

Lisa G said...

Yes, I would certainly agree, I think a lot of that is down to how visible a 'target' you are to the LA - families who withdraw children from school as opposed to those who've never sent their kids seem to fare worse imho!

Anonymous said...

How nice the experience is also seems to be dependant on how far you go along with what the LA wants. Having a philosophy that they approve of, allowing annual visits and having kids who meet school defined age standards will give you a pleasant experience just about anywhere I should think.

The test of your LA is what they do to the autonomous educator whose 9 year old can't read yet and who sands up for their rights and refuses to be monitored.

Carlotta said...

"The test of your LA is what they do to the autonomous educator whose 9 year old can't read yet and who stands up for their rights and refuses to be monitored."

Yep, I'd say that's a great test. It would show whether or not your LA HE inspector actually knows something about HE. If they did, they would know that starting to read later than at school is absolutely NO IMPEDIMENT TO GREAT AQUISITION OF KNOWLEDGE, that knowledge is accumulated in any number of other ways, that late readers rapidly catch up when they do start to read and often then go on to out-perform their schooled peers probably at least in part because they haven't been bored rigid plodding through the "cat sat on mat" stage.

I guess it isn't surprising that the LA inspectors often don't know this, so pervasive is the school model; but the HE community has been around long enough for heducrats to know this by now. There is just way too much evidence that the above assertions stand and we shouldn't be hassled for ascribing to the efficacy of them. It should be their job to know.

Anonymous said...

What happens if a child wants to stay at home but the parent doesn't want this? Who advocates for the child? Is the parent's decision overriding?

It's only children's rights when it interests them.

Carlotta said...