Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who's Responsible?

From the Select Committee hearing today, and reported by the Beeb:

Peter Traves, from the Association of Directors of Children's Services:

"We have seen recently what happens recently to directors of children' services when things go seriously wrong - it is not only sacking, it is public humiliation and it is a very serious matter.

"I'm held to account for children's welfare, and I think not to know there are children living and being educated in my area is actually unreasonable if I'm being held to that account."

Aside from thinking "AWWWW, diddums", one also can't help wondering if this IS the the real reason for the whole shebang. It would make sense somehow, but it certainly isn't a good enough reason. The state must not be allowed to over-ride the principles of freedom and the right to privacy just to make someone's job *seem* just a little bit easier, as the police and social workers know all too well.

Another reason why this reason is insufficient is that the registration and monitoring of HEors will not prevent Directors of Children's services being hauled up in front of a Serious Case Review panel, since registration and monitoring will not be a reliable way of detecting abuse. Screening the 99.6% of healthy families will in fact create a load of statistical noise, there will be loads of spurious referrals, further over-burdening already over-stretched social workers, and in the process, some of the important stuff will be missed. Directors of Children's services will then be even more on the line for failing in their duties when they apparently had even more powers than the police to invade the homes of every home educator in the land.

And the final reasons, should you need yet more, is that we are coming dangerously close to a situation where parents will no longer be allowed to be parents, for in the course of their other duties, all state-sponsored personnel, are in the course of their other duties, required to ensure that educational standards are met, and are meant to ensure that children are working towards the five ambitions as enshrined in the Children Act 2004. This essentially means that parents everywhere will now be compelled to ensure that their children work towards these ambitions and to strive for state-mandated standards. By insisting that all HE children are seen, we symbolically for all families everywhere, but in reality for HEors, fundamentally change the way that parents can parent in this country. Families, parents and children alike, will no longer be able to freely choose their ambitions, and we must therefore accept that by this token, the state takes over in loco parentis in one of the most all subsuming sorts of ways, ie: in deciding the whole direction of a child's life.

We must avoid this consequence and return to basic principals, whereby the state only intervenes in cases of clear parental failure, for otherwise, we kiss goodbye to the possibility of responsible parenting by parents.

Renegade has more on this, along with links.


Anonymous said...

Yes, and look who will be responsible for our children. Those who have ALREADY FAILED so many children. Those who do not, and cannot, care for our children.

We owe our children more than that.


elizabeth said...

I kind of did feel "poor didems" to be honest. But felt the best way for him to handle it would be to help clear up the situation and campaign for parental responsibility to be put back into the hands of parents. Why would anyone wish to take unreasonable responsibility for other people's children?

On balance this is a level of responsibility that only parents can take well enough. State care of children is ok as a final back up, when all else has failed. It is far from suitable in general.

Many parents however prefer not to take personal responsibility though. A friend recently commented, I think because she has caved on all the other home ed sceptic arguments, that "Well the thing that would stop me is that i'd be down to me if it failed"

Indeed and I'd rather it were down to me than the local education authority. I have much more power to ensure our family suceeds in educating the children.

Anonymous said...

Must admit my response was slighter ruder than "poor diddums" but it was along those lines.
As Elizabeth says-why not point out he can't be responsible for every child. Honestly the services that are there for children at risk are utterly useless. I've seen it up close and personal both from my working days and because I have friends with problems. Why not get it right with the children they have under their nose first?

Renegade Parent said...

I see we were simultaneously stricken with Traves fever last night. As I said in my post, I would be more than happy to make Peter less accountable if it keeps us on the sensible track away from parental registration. I hope other non-HE parents are starting to feel similarly and will support us.

Barry said...

That bit did also have me saying some choice words - well, in my head, as I was at work. It's just all such infuriating logic. "We've put someone in a position of accountability for everything you do, or might do, so surely it's only reasonable if the nice man knows every detail of your life and defines for you what you can and cannot do in your life?" Legislation shouldn't be made to fit with populist misconceptions, or Sun headlines!

I don't agree with the fervent attempts to intervene everywhere, but at least if he had said 'without knowing, vulnerable children might be harmed', rather than 'without knowing, I might get all sorts of hassle', I'd have at least thought his concern was doing his job, not the public perception of how he is doing his job...

Incidentally, the seemingly pro-HE MP (Graham?) did acknowledge that schools / the state are often a poor parent, where this role is to some degree assumed. Also, there was a very brief mention of the notion of children as property, with, I think, one of the Committee saying children are not the property of the parent, and one of the panel countering that nor are they the property of the state. This wasn't explored fully, but I think they settled for the societal ownership option, which I'm not happy with personally.

Anonymous said...

Actually I noticed when Mr Carswell (it was him wasn't it) started pointing out the dreadful state of LA services Sheerman tried to stop him. Very rude I thought.

Allie said...

This constant fear, "I will be held to account if a child is harmed" affects many people who work in local authorities - at more junior levels as well as top dogs.

I once had a conversation with a woman working for an LA in home ed visitor capacity and this was a genuine fear for her. I pointed out where the responsibility lay - with the parents - but this is clearly not how it felt to her.

Personally, I think this situation is exacerbated by the tendency of LAs and even the govt. to throw employees to the wolves of the tabloids when tragedies do occur.

Gill said...

There are some posts (traffic warden, home education inspector, head of children's services. OK, traffic warden was a bit of a wild card) that surprise me when people fill them, especially when those people are then terrified of losing their freedom/ reputation/ pension if and when a child is hurt. I couldn't do a job that was motivated by that kind of fear and when the fear takes over from any positive motivation the result can only be a bad one.

Our local inspector is due to reture in 5 years and has actually said that his main priority is protecting his pension plan, rather than the wellbeing of children for their own sake. Shocking really, isn't it?