Saturday, November 14, 2009

A New Kind of Petition Entirely

This petition aims to alert every MP in the country to our resistance to the Badman proposals and involves a completely different process to the on-line petitions. It needs support very, very urgently as we only have approx 2 weeks to complete the entire process! Please consider signing up to become a co-ordinator for your area.

Accompanying information (forwarded with permission):

"Petition to Parliament : Deadline for signatures - November 30th 2009.

The debate in the House of Commons on the Badman proposals could be as early as December 3rd.

In response, Graham Stuart MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education has offered to organise a Petition to Parliament.

The link to the petition, which has been written by Graham Stuart's office, can be found here.

A number of MPs have told us that petitions to Downing Street have much less effect than a Petition to Parliament.

The key thing is the number of constituencies where a Petition to Parliament is signed, rather than getting a huge number of signatories from any one constituency.

The Petitions to Parliament are taken by MPs to Parliament and are recorded in Hansard.

Graham Stuart believes that home educators have an opportunity to raise the greatest number of petitions ever presented to the House.

Q & A:

Q What does the petition say:

A: The Petition to Parliament says that the signatories are concerned about the recommendations of the Badman Report and believe that the recommendations are based on a rushed review which failed to consider and evaluate evidence and failed to take account of the existing legislative framework. The Petition goes on to say that measures in forthcoming legislation should be not brought forward or should be withdrawn and that the Government should take steps to see that the Home Education Guidelines are properly implemented, learning from best practice in local authorities.

Q: Who has put this together?

A: The wording of the petition has been devised by Graham Stuart MP's parliamentary research assistant. Graham Stuart is also Chair of the new All Party Parliamentary Group.

Q: Why does it say "not to bring forward, or to withdraw"?

A: This is a form of wording devised by the MP's parliamentary research assistant which takes account of the fact that the Children and Families Bill will not be withdrawn, since most of it deals with the Schools White Paper. Clauses of the Bill can be withdrawn or the Government can allow clauses to be defeated on a vote.

Q: How did this come about?

A: Graham Stuart MP spoke about an All Party Parliamentary Group to constituents and to home educators who gave evidence to the Select Committee and also to those who attended the Select Committee to watch the proceedings. The topic of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Home Education also came up at the Education Otherwise Parliamentary Event on October 20th. As a follow-up, home educators were invited to meet Graham Stuart and at the meeting the subject of the Petition to Parliament was raised.

Home educators who had been involved with organising the Parliamentary Event, whether or not they were able to attend, have remained in touch with each other and have been a point of contact for Graham Stuart's researcher. Graham Stuart asked for a web page which would feature the petition and would enable home educators to sign up by constituency. (The usual Petition to Parliament is from a single constituency) Roarke volunteered for this task.

The final wording of the Petition was sent to the web page designer on Thursday 12th. GrahamStuart wanted people to be able to sign up as co-ordinators as soon as possible. The first emails thanking volunteer co-ordinators were signed by Roarke as web page designer. Roarke is not signing subsequent emails since he does not wish his role to be misunderstood or overstated.

Q: Is this an Education Otherwise thing?

A: Some of the home educators talking to Graham Stuart are postholders in Education Otherwise. Other home educators talking to Graham Stuart are not postholders or members of EO. Education Otherwise is not in any sense controlling or directing the Petition to Parliament. Graham Stuart asked for a web page which could be promoted to as many home educators as possible so that anyone could come forward and volunteer to co-ordinate a constituency petition.


Here's what you can do:

1. Volunteer to be the local coordinator for the signatures on the petition papers.
You will receive a file with the petition which you will print out and post or email to people who contact you and ask for a copy. You will be responsible for coordinating the collection of
petitions signed by local home educators and presenting it to your MP (along with other local home educators if possible) You will get information on how to gain press interest for the presentation.

2. If when you click on the link, someone has already volunteered to be co-ordinator in your constituency, click on the link to email them and get a paper or electronic copy of the petition.

3. Ask friends/ family who live in a constutuency where no one has
volunteered if they would organise a petition from their area.

Share this link

All petitions will be presented in parliament by MPs on or around 3rd December 2009.

Hence we need petitions returned to co-ordinators by November 30th at the latest.

The idea is to have as many MPs as possible present petitions on that day. The number of signatories is, of course, significant , and the more the better - but more dramatic will be the numbers of MPs who present petitions (ie, the number of consituencies represented - so even if you only have one signature on the petition for your MP to present it is still worth it!)

Click on the link above to volunteer to be your local co-ordinator or to find out who your local co-ordinator is so that you can arrange to sign the petition.

We have only two weeks to organise this!

Graham Stuart believes that home educators have an opportunity to raise the greatest number of petitions ever presented to the House. We cover almost every constituency and the issues we are raising affect every family - home educators or not.

Freedom for Family Education-- because FAMILIES raise children! "


Anonymous said...

Labour M.P's vote along party lines and i would guess a three line whip would be imposed on ALL Labour M.P's over the children's bill? of course the Labour party will allow a few M.P's to abstain!Governements take no notice of petitions! and do we really think that the torries will really help us? All of them in my view are a waste of space just look at the expense's scandal claiming for a duck house!

Alice said...

A co-ordinated concerted effort can make a difference. Labour have been defeated before over bills where they have employed the whip.

We have to fight for our rights in every way we can!!

Maire said...

Who did the inviting to this secret group i wonder?

I may well take part in this petition but I am EXTREMELY upset about the way it has divided the community and left some of the best and most effective supporters of the fight against Badman feeling alienated. I feel that EO hijacked it at the parliamentary event and I cannot express how disappointed I am by Graham Stewart's behaviour in not keeping in allowing this to happen in spite of crystal clear warnings he received about the way any such thing would be received.

Anonymous said...

Alice, I agree that Labour have been defeated when they have employed the whip. The problem here is that I doubt very much that any MP cares that much about home education to stick their neck out. Troublesome mp's are not "successfull" mp's. My belief is that an education bill would be done on a 3 line whip and that very few mp's would go against that. It would be a vote of confidence in the government and I suspect that the majority of mp's would vote with the government willingly as they do not believe home education to be of sufficient importance to the general public. I agree that we have to fight for our rights but do not believe that looking to parliment is a fruitfull course of action. Looking at the expenses issue shows us exactly what they think of their employers and I don't belive that opinion is going to change any time soon. My opinions are not restricted to the present incumbents but to all of the msjor parties, to me the only difference is in the colour of their suits. The electorate is most likely going to replace a party whose mp's are not willing to travel a few miles without claiming a 2nd home with a party whose mp's believe duck houses are an exceptable expense. All of the parties objected most strongly to the public being given access to this information - I wonder why?

Firebird said...

If nothing else it's publicity. Such a historic petition will get press attention.

What the DCSF are up to is legally VERY questionable and it does effect all families, not just us. I think a big part of why they assume they'll get away with it is that we're insignificant and nobody will notice. So anything that gets us and our caused noticed is helpful.

This petion isn't going to be the one thing that saves EHE in England, any more than the #10 one was, but it is one more thing we can do. The Select Committee won't save us either, even if they totally reject the Badman Report, because Ed Balls will just ignore them, but such a rejection might sway an MP or two and it would definitely get press coverage.

I see this as nothing more than another small thing we can do and as long as we keep on doing all the small things that we CAN do, maybe they'll add up to something that does save our educational freedom.

All this national action hasn't stopped me working on our LA, I even have a petition going for them because I have to DO SOMETHING. That way if it all goes pear shaped I'll know it wasn't because of my inaction, that would just stink, you know, wondering if things would have been different if I'd done x, y or z? Well I'm doing x, y, z and a few other letters besides and co-ordinating one of these petitions is one of them.

Alice said...

Re anomymous above ..

I agree that home education is a minor issue to most MPs on the face of it. But all our efforts can make a difference, because we can show them that there are much wider issues at stake which are of importance to the general public. Eg. right to privacy, educational welfare of children, protection of the family and home life, the disproportionate use of executive powers.

Bit by bit we can hopefully show MPS that this isn't a minor issue on the fringes of their interest.

Whether we like it or not, Parliament makes the laws. We need to be talking to MPs.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carlotta,
I've just sent a link to your post to every HE list I belong to. I also pasted the post below the link, for those who cannot be bothered, initially, to click a link.
I thought you spelled it out well, with the details needed.
I've come to trust that if you are not skeptical, we probably can begin to think about letting down our guard!

Carlotta said...

Thank you so much, Sally.

I believe that the petition is a good thing to be doing right now as it will hopefully spread the news of our objections to as many MPs as possible.

Our hope is that we could make this the biggest petition of its kind ever, ie: that more MPs receive a petition (even if it only has one signature) and it therefore does require that people volunteer to co-ordinate it for their area.

Carlotta said...

I do agree with you Maire...I think it was a shame that the whole inception was shrouded in is certainly not my prefered way of working, but am pretty sure that there wasn't anything much behind this, other than that those who were very instrumental in getting it sorted now shy away from showing their workings after being hauled over the coals in the past.

Tech said...

Do you not think that there is good reason why these people have been *hauled over the coals*? I think this is really disingenuous of you tbh, there has been a lot of disappointment, frustration and indeed anger over the way those certain people have behaved to the HE community. They talk about being transparent, but this is a lie, and more and more of us are refusing to fall for it. Invite only groups controlled by the people who have engendered such distrust are not going to help any of us, neither are the whining *poor me, I work so hard for free and I get no thanks* type posts. FFS we are ALL doing that, just because these people think they are above the rest of us because they hold posts in what is essentially a captured org, does not give them any right to dictate the state of play to the rest of us.

I think you have a conveniently short/selective memory - I used to think better of you.

Tech said...

Is it not true that you are part of the invite only group?

Carlotta said...

Dear Tech,

Sorry...I really didn't mean to imply that I thought EO blameless. I have been quite infuriated at times with the way things have gone...that is certainly not what I meant when I said "hauled over the coals".

There have been times, however, when I have felt that the label of EO has meant that individuals within it have tried to do something constructive and have then been criticised unjustly, simply because they came with the EO and EO did something wrong the previous week, and I do think this is a shame.

I also do think EO a tainted brand, and I do think that in an ideal world it would be disbanded and we tried to start afresh, though I do see some complications with that, in so far as it would involve a massive amount of work that I for one couldn't put in, and wouldn't therefore expect to be able to ask of anyone else.

So I am stuck with thinking that I will try to work out what they do well and what they do badly...critique what they do badly and grab what they do well and run with it.

I think the value of this petition really comes at the moment when we hand it over to our MPs, and say hey..."look guys, if you don't do something about Badman, we will resist its implications wholeheartedly and it will cost you much more than you bargained for in a number of different ways."

This petition is simply a way of ensuring that we speak to as many MPs as possible in this sort of a way, and that is why I am running with this one.

Anonymous said...

Q: Why does it say "not to bring forward, or to withdraw"?

A: This is a form of wording devised by the MP's parliamentary research assistant which takes account of the fact that the Children and Families Bill will not be withdrawn, since most of it deals with the Schools White Paper. Clauses of the Bill can be withdrawn or the Government can allow clauses to be defeated on a vote.

Really Strange, if the wording is devised for the CFBill, then why not keep to the point of the badman review needs scraping entitling, why give a few words another meaning in the eyes of others! I smell a rat, as that sentance only gives them the notion, to keep the review going into law.Can't anyone else see this!!

Firebird said...

Anon (last one) if you're going to be picky about the use of language, "to keep the review going into law" is meaningless as is 'scrapping' it entirely. The review has no legal standing at all, it is not draft legislation it just makes recommendations which might or might not implimented.

The petition says that the Badman recommendations are rubbish, that's all well and good but the IMPORTANT thing is to say that ANY legislation based on them should not go forward. That's what matters, stopping the changes based on the Badman report, not a public statement that it is pants. Sticking Badman and Balls in the stocks and throwing rotten veg at them would be emotionally satifying but stopping legislative changes is what matters.

Anonymous said...

How do you know it is going to be dabted on 3rd of December?

Anonymous said...

HI Carlotta, I gather this post is cut and pasted from a release EO put out on the EO list (as I've seen the exact one posted by someone who said that was were it came from, with permission to cross post).
I'm wondering if you got a chance to see the whole wording of the petition before you posted this blog post? I know now that a decision was made to restrict access to the whole wording apparently in order to prevent people downloading and photocopying it and duplicating within constituencies. ]
I'm wondering, in the light of that, whether you were working blind from an EO release which didn't highlight the contentious bits of the petition.
Otherwise, I'm wondering if you were privy to the petition before it was available.

I'm surprised if you would publish something here, with a recommendation to action it, if you hadn't seen the full wording.

Can you clarify?

best wishes

Carlotta said...

Dear Sally,

I had only actually seen a precis of the petition wording, and now I have seen it, do think it could have been worded more tightly, BUT am nonetheless happy to run with it now I have seen it, as I think it is perfectly adequate for our purposes right now.

I think the problems we see with it aren't very significant, and come from a long history of worrying over precise meanings of the law, and possible misinterpretations of it it, but in general the overall thrust is very clear: don't let the clause in the Children, Schools and Families bill go through. This is our immediate objective and this came over very clearly.