Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Badman Stymies Himself

Right, which is it, Mr Badman? Are you or are you not interested in listening to the views of children?

You seem to be serious in your intent to do so. You justify intruding upon the lives of tens of thousands of otherwise seemingly well-functioning families on the pretext that children have the right, under the UNCRC, to be heard, even though it is not clear that this is the sort of situation to which the UNCRC article refers, and even though it is not clear exactly who the UNCRC mean by a "party".

From your report, at section 3.3:

"3.3 The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) gives children and young people over forty substantive rights which include the right to express their views freely, the right to be heard in any legal or administrative matters that affect them and the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. Article 12 makes clear the responsibility of signatories to give children a voice:

“Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”

Yet under the current legislation and guidance, local authorities have no right of access to the child to determine or ascertain such views."

Yet you must know by now that a huge proportion of home educated children do not want anything whatsoever to do with LA inspectors.

This view is not irrational. Why should such children want to see someone who they don't know from Adam, who has an all-consuming power of judgement over the most intimate aspects of their lives, who has the power to alter their lives significantly for the worse, and who is highly unlikely to offer them anything that they cannot access more easily elsewhere? Given that such a rational judgement should be given due weight, Mr Badman, we assume that you will not insist that LA inspectors visit such children.

If you really are serious about your desire to take the voice of the child seriously, you can't just then ignore it. You cannot just insist that such a child must see an inspector, for that way, far from upholding the UN-mandated rights of the child, you will be infringing them; far from preventing abuse, you will be perpetuating it.

The irony here is that home educated children are probably some of the most listened-to children in the entire world. The huge, HUGE majority of them are in the place of education that they have actually chosen themselves. Put that as an honest question to school children and see if you can come up with anything like a majority.

And don't try the "we don't know if these children are giving honest answers" line. If you want to get a feel for the genuine force with which home educated children will argue this point, I am sure we could arrange for you to meet with them en-masse. You might have to set aside quite a bit of time for this though. They feel strongly about this. I got a full half-hour ear-bashing on the subject from my seven year old only this morning. Her arguments whilst protracted, were extremely rigorous and powerfully felt. She says, "It is MY life. I get to decide what I want to do with it, not someone else, let alone someone I don't know. If I am interested in something, I will learn it. Mum, you just blabbed on and on about something to do with carbon and the Middle East." (ed, why was that I wonder?) "I wasn't interested, and besides duh, I do already KNOW all about plants and carbon and Israel and all that. Right now, I am interested in explaining why it is better to learn when you are interested in what you are learning and why I really don't want ANYONE else telling me what to learn."

Of course, you could also talk to HEYC, who might also be able to put your mind to rest on this issue.


Barry said...

Yes, it's a funny one isn't it. In the name of the 'rights of the child' and the 'voice of the child', he wants to force them to talk to someone who mistrusts their family, assumes anything pro-HE they say may be under sufferance, doesn't understand how they are learning, and reserves the right to impose a school structure on them.

Doesn't sound too in line with the child's rights to me...

Anonymous said...


Graham Badman CBE
Institute of Education
University of London
20 Bedford Way

Dear Mr. Badman

Why have you not replied to my letter of the 12.6.09 about your Home Education Review? I am very concerned about this review and I am extremely puzzled because most of the recommendations will not help home educators. As I said in my letter of 12.6.09 the recommendation about giving LA officers the right to speak with the child alone will not help for a few reasons and one of them is that you would have no independent record of what was said. Also it may frighten younger children and children with special needs.

Yours Sincerely
Peter A Williams
A Home Educated Child

Anonymous said...

To: complaints@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk
Subject: Complaint about Diane Johnson M.P

To Diane Johnson M.P

This is a complaint about Diane JohnsonM.P not answering my letter of 22.7.2009 I have attach it for you it was also sent by royal mail.


Master Peter A Williams

A Home Educated Child

Kelly said...

Yes, and then there is the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states, "Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children." They are conveniently ignoring that.

Maire said...

Mine could manage to hold forth like that for ages and would happily do so, come on Badman accept the invitation, maybe we could come to your home and inspect it at the same time.