Media release from Action for Home Education, 20 October 2009
DCSF "just embarrassing themselves now"
Moments before the deadline, a home-educating parent reported that their submission to the latest consultation on home education had received the number 5340, an unusually large public response with the previous record for DCSF being only in the hundreds.
One of the respondents, JK, a fifteen year old supporter of Action for Home Education, declared today that Ed Balls and the DCSF are "just embarrassing themselves now" as he battled to understand how the government can be so short sighted about the opposition to the recommendations in the Badman Report on home education.
This rather gives the lie to Graham Badman's assertion to the Children, Schools and Families Committee (12 October 2009, Q2) that the opposition to his report comes from "a vociferous minority" that he can actually count. But "why", asks JK, "are they still not listening?"
Diana Johnson (to Children, Schools and Families Select Committee hearing 12 October 2009,) promised that consultation responses will be carefully scrutinised and taken into account before policy is made.
"But Ed Balls accepted the widely criticised Badman review in full immediately and dismissed out of hand the Cambridge Review, a long term academic study of education that suggested children should start school at six and sit fewer tests", said Barbara Stark, Chair of the AHEd group.
"We are watching to see if even the large number of responses is going to be taken seriously by Ed Balls who, so far, has ridden rough shod over the wishes and needs of home educated children to push forward his own ideas. We think that the review was not really independent and was used by Ed Balls to make up policy-based evidence biased towards a predetermined agenda to bully us and our children."
AHEd believes most of the consultation responses will have been from ordinary families who see big government threatening their way of life and their family choices.
Supporter Clare Murton said, "This government has lost sight of the distinction between public and private to the point where even our youngsters are mystified at their ignorance and arrogance.
"Many parents will recognise the frustration home educators feel with the shortcomings of the state schools, but not many will realise that, if they chose to decline the state's humble offerings in any sphere of life, not just education, they may be forced to expose their homes and children to close scrutiny."
Recently there have been attempts to screen, control, tax and register mums and dads who choose to share their child care arrangements, but things are now thought to be going too far. AHEd believes that Ed Balls and the DCSF have to be made to understand that normally peaceful home educators who just want to get on with their lives are drawing a line in the sand.
Ms Stark said, "The British public are fed up with such interference and we will tolerate it no longer. We will not comply with this disgusting agenda for us and our children. If necessary, many of us will choose to go before the courts to fight any criminal sanctions that government may introduce.
"Does New Labour really want to be remembered as the government that persecuted law-abiding parents doing their best for their families?"
For further information, contact AHEd.