Tuesday, 30 June 2009
It is an annotation on the What Do They Know site.
"Jax's point is key - Baroness Drefelin's response is more than disingenuous, it's the Parliamentary equivalent of being 'economical with the truth'.
Moreover, the number of cases to be dealt with by LAs is irrelevant to assessing the magnitude of the impact - you can have a large number of cases but a small impact or a small number of cases but a large impact. The whole point of having the impact assessment is to assess its magnitude; it's poor policy making practice to make an assumption about how small or big it will be, the Govt won't know that until it's done. In addition, Drefelin cant claim the numbers will be small because as the review points out the number of children being home educated is unknown.
The presumption that each case will impose a small burden on LAs also seems naive - possibly indicating a lack of understanding of what might be involved if the proposals are ever to be implemented. For example, the review, itself, calls for trained staff to be involved - this will have a cost and may involve training provision to be commissioned. In addition, I for one will not allow only one LA official to see my daughter on her own - if you can't trust parents then why should I trust the LA staff. A minimum of two staff will be needed (both females so same sex as my daughter), plus I want the interview to be videoed. This will have implications for staffing numbers and other resources.
I had hoped that senior policy makers in DCFS would have realised by now that they had been badly served by a poor quality review. However, it appears that the same lack of thought and understanding underpinning the actual review is being carried forward. "
Jax’s post on this is here
there are seven comments on there at the moment, lets flood them with comments, lets not let her get away with such nonsense.
Monday, 29 June 2009
West End Extra - by JAMIE WELHAM
Published: 26 June 2009
Forget school – ‘it’s amazing what kids learn when they’re not forced’MP Mark Field champions parents who opt to take children out of mainstream educationFOR most nine-year-olds Monday morning means going back to the classroom – a procession of spelling tests, times tables and long division.But Beth Coles is different. She is home schooled. Beth has never owned a uniform, set foot in an assembly hall or done a homework assignment. Nor, as her mum Lil is keen to point out, has she ever had to sit a Sats test.
Beth lives in an elegant townhouse in Victoria with her parents and four-year-old brother and is part of a sizeable minority of school aged children in Westminster (the low estimate is 40 but the figure is probably closer to 100) whose parents have chosen to opt out of mainstream education.
And while society at large might be suspicious of their motives, home school parents are united in an evangelical belief that it’s the best choice they ever made.“There are so many misconceptions about home education. The main ones being that we must have something to hide, that our children will have no friends and that we are overprotective,” says Lil.
A former teacher and school governor, she says: “Everyone’s reasons for choosing to home educate are different. But a lot of it has to do with classroom sizes, an unhealthy focus on attainment, testing and targets and peer pressure. If Beth had gone to our local school, 70 per cent of the children wouldn’t have English as a first language. It wasn’t an easy choice to make but now I’m convinced that kids at schools are taught how to pass exams and not how to think. It’s amazing what kids learn when they’re not forced.”Under British law it is parents who are responsible for providing their children’s education “in school or otherwise”.
Home educators do not have to be trained teachers nor do they need special qualifications.
And as for a typical day, well, there’s no such thing. It depends on the family, with some hiring tutors and sticking to subject areas, while for others it’s more free spirited, governed by the mood of the child. On some days Beth will go to a museum or a play group with other home-schooled children, on others she stays at home and reads.Another
“It took us a year but looking back I wish I had done it sooner. It took about three years to restore his self-esteem. He was getting pushed around and there was a real survival-of-the-fittest mentality that did him a lot of damage,” she said.Ben is now 13 and has never been back to school.
“At first I was really anxious that he wasn’t going to be socialised so we were rushing around trying to make friends with everyone. I also looked at the curriculum quite a lot. But now I’m a lot more relaxed about it. I don’t compare him with other children. If anything he is more not less socialised.
“If he says he needs more friends we go and find some. And if he said he wanted to go back to school we would do it. But he hasn’t.”While both mothers eulogise the liberating effects of home education, they can no longer take their freedom for granted.
Last week ministers unveiled plans for a major toughening-up of the regulation of home education, which will force families who opt out of schooling to register with their local authorities, submit learning plans and be subjected to regular inspections. Parents fear the Badman report (named after the Kent County Council schools chief Graham Badman, who authored the report) presages a major erosion of civil liberties. The review was ordered to investigate whether home education is used to conceal “child abuse such as neglect, forced marriage, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude”. If proposals are introduced, local authorities could order a child back to school, if it believes the provision at home is not up to scratch.
“What they are doing is conflating child welfare with education and that’s not right. When they go looking for child abuse in home educating families they never find any,” says Lil, who has managed to persuade Cites of Westminster and London MP Mark Field to carry their fight to Parliament.
“I think Graham Badman has completely the wrong idea. He seems to think children need protecting from their parents and we’re all guilty of neglect. The wider implications of this report are very scary, draconian in fact, and we need to try and get people to understand home education before they make it impossible. It is the state meddling where they have no place to.
”Mr Field, who has met the mothers in person, warned the Commons the government were “manipulating current anxiety about child abuse to intrude further into home education when they have little right to do so”, adding that there was “an overwhelming case that home educators should be allowed to get on with their lives without undue state interference.”
Thursday, 25 June 2009
GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES INDEPENDENT ENQUIRY INTO THE SMEARING WITH ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE OF TENS OF THOUSANDS
BALLS AND MORGAN IN THE DOCK .
Wouldn’t it be good to see this in the papers?
I believe in the power of one's thoughts to create one’s reality.
I am going to be visualising this headline many times each day.
What if we all did this?
Just another way to try and make a difference and what have you got to lose?
Monday, 22 June 2009
What she then went on to tell me was that she thinks all children should by law be in school, she thinks the way I bring up my children is a form of child abuse, but that she defends my quirky oddities when talking to others who criticise me (!!!!) because she has always found my arguments clear and logical.
This is not how I have always found hers, but she is fun and warm and a laugh and good company so our friendship has survived many differences of opinion.
I think that the way I allow my children to make their own choices is at the heart of her opinion, one of my children has gender disphoria and I thoroughly support his choice in being the person he feels he is inside. Another, though choosing school finds the intensity of the timetable too much, I allow him to decide when he goes and when he doesn’t. Remembering my own schooldays I know I could have achieved more if I had had this choice. My last child struggled more at school than any of the others, saw a news item on home education and gave a lengthy impassioned plea to be home educated. It was not convenient, I was enjoying my job, I was enjoying my peace, but her arguments were clear, logical and undeniable. It has been a steep but amazing learning curve for me. I have never slotted so easily into a social situation before. I have done and learned many things that I never otherwise would have and acquired a certain political awareness and a campaigning spirit.
When I had children my wish for them was that they would be able to be thoroughly themselves and judge their success on their own terms; that they would be approved of just for being. I have not changed my mind. Some of my relations (and possibly my friend) think that my kids do not show me enough respect. I hope deep down that they feel respect for me, but they can say anything to me, I want them to be honest with me and yes their views are often uninformed and lacking experience and even hurtful but I would not close down the channels of communication between us because of that.
Is the friendship over, I do not know.
I left her wishing her well and pointed out to her if she had even the slightest suspicion that there is any sort of karma in this world she should make sure that her opinions are at least carefully researched before she lobbies to remove the civil liberties of her fellow citizens.
Saturday, 20 June 2009
Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service
Dear Sir Gus O’Donnell
Conduct of the Review of Elective Home Education
The Department for Children, Schools and Families recently published its Review of Elective Home Education in England. The Review, which was conducted by Graham Badman, appears to be in breach of both the Nolan Committee's ‘The Seven Principles of Public Life’ and the Civil Service Code. Clearly, these are serious allegations and, if correct, undermine the legitimacy of, and public trust in, the Review and its conclusions.
The Review selectively quotes from submissions it received, including a fairly lengthy extract from the Education Division of the Church of England that expresses their concerns about home education. However, the Review does not quote the Church’s overall conclusion:
‘10 We have seen no evidence to show that the majority of home educated children do not achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes, and are therefore not convinced of the need to change the current system of monitoring the standard of home education. Where there are particular concerns about the children in a (sic) home-educating this should be a matter for Children’s Services.’
Such selective quotation does not meet the Civil Service Code in terms of:
• Objectivity - the report fails to presents the Church’s views accurately and, given the Review’s findings it effectively, ignores an ‘inconvenient fact’.
• Honesty – the report omits the Church’s view that they are not convinced of further reform, yet it does quote their concerns. An honest view would have included their concerns and their reservations about the need for further reform; as this would have ‘set out the facts and relevant issues truthfully’.
We have a large number of other concerns about the conduct of this Review (please see attached letter) to the extent that there may have been maladministration. We are raising this issue with you because of its seriousness.
Prof. Bruce Stafford Mrs Maire Stafford
Link to the Civil Service Code of Conduct.
Link to the 'The Seven Principles of Public Life.
Friday, 19 June 2009
Thursday, 18 June 2009
Dear Maire, Bruce and Beth,
Thank you for your email regarding home education. I have spoken with the Deputy Children’s Commissioner, who was actually a member of the review group. She is supportive of the recommendations that the report proposes. She appreciates your concerns and is sure that any visits undertaken by the local authority will be done in accordance with the child’s wishes and her best interests.
If Beth wishes, she can give us her views via the website, where she can also view other children and young peoples’ opinions on a range of issues. http://www.11million.org.uk/
1 London Bridge
DD: 0551 143 7826
Tel: 0844 800 9113
Fax: 0207 357 8329
"The 11 MILLION children and young people in England have a voice"
Children's Commissioner for England, Professor Sir Albert Aynsley-Green
From: Maire Stafford [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: 16 June 2009 21:40To: REQUEST, InfoSubject: For the attn. of the Children's Commissioner
On behalf of our daughter we wish to alert you to the proposed invasion of her privacy and family home suggested by the Report on Elective Home Education by Graham Badman, and welcomed and agreed to by Secretary of State, Ed Balls.
The element she is most upset by is the suggestion that she should be interviewed by a stranger from the LA without her parents present, and that she should have exhibit what she has learned.
We follow an autonomous educational path with Beth, she was too traumatised by school to undergo any instruction and we have now found this path to be more effective than structured education. However Graham Badman has shown a distinct hostility and lack of understanding of this form of education and his recommendations threaten to make it impossible.
There are many other problems with his report and we have attached a copy of a letter recently sent to Ed Balls which spells them out.
Thank you for giving this your consideration.
Maire, Bruce and Beth Stafford
The link is here. I complained about the accuracy of this article.
Parents who teach pupils at home are to be vetted
News Published in The TES on 12 June, 2009 By: Richard Vaughan
Officials aim to ensure home-schooling is not a ‘cover for abuse’ in the wake of Baby P case
Parents who teach their children at home will be vetted for any convictions related to abuse following recommendations in a report today.
The Elective Home Education Review was launched in January in the aftermath of the Baby P case in Haringey, north London, to ensure that home education is not used by parents as a “cover for abuse”.
England has been identified as having one of the worst systems in the developed world for keeping track of children in home education. Figures from a recent TES investigation show that approximately 35,000 children are not receiving a basic education.
Speaking at the launch of the investigation, Delyth Morgan, the children’s minister, said that although parents are able to choose to educate their children at home, there are some “not receiving the education they need”.
Baroness Morgan added: “In some extreme cases, home education could be used as a cover for abuse. We cannot allow this to happen and are committed to doing all we can to help ensure children are safe, wherever they are educated.”
The review - carried out by Graham Badman, a former director of children’s services in Kent - calls for the law to compel parents to register their children if they are being educated at home, rather than simply informing the local authority that they intend to take a child out of school.
Parents would be expected to present local authorities with a statement of how they will ensure their child’s education progresses over the next 12 months.
Local authority officials with additional training would visit homes, giving parents two weeks’ notice to develop a progress report. Officials would be given access to the children alone, and a report drawn up that would be shared with the parents to challenge if they chose.
Speaking before the publication of the report, Fiona Nicholson of Education Otherwise, a home education support group, said any register would be “intrusive” on families. “There is a lot of fear that restrictions will be brought in by the back door,” Ms Nicholson said. “We are very cynical about the whole thing. We have put forward more than 40 recommendations of our own, but we doubt any of them will be paid any notice.”
The Department for Children, Schools and Families has issued new guidance with the Home Office to safeguard children from sexual exploitation and prostitution. It revises guidelines published in 2000 in a report, Safeguarding Children involved in Prostitution. Delyth Morgan called all frontline professionals to work together to identify children at risk of sexual exploitation and take the “best steps to keep them safe from harm”.
Reading it left me sick to the stomach.
It has been published here
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Just used this to demonstrate irony and satire to Beth. She found it both amusing and disturbing in equal measure (too close to the bone I think).
She thinks Satire and Irony would be wonderful names for stars, she would also like to name a star "Home Education Rules" because it does.
Monday, 15 June 2009
Renagade Parent has clearly listed why we should just say no here.
Gill speculates about Badman’s reasons for such a vicious attack here.
Panopticon gives a compelling account of one of the reasons why we home educate here
as does Three Degrees of Freedom here.
And that’s enough for now, I actually need to give my child some attention. We are going to start “The First Four Years” by Laura Ingles Wilder. We have really enjoyed this series and will be a bit bereft when we have finished.
If I get the time I may have another whip around the blogosphere and do part two of this later.
Sunday, 14 June 2009
Ed Balls, House of Commons, 5th May 2009, col. 76
found here: http://tryingtorelax.blogspot.com/
quoted from: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090505/debtext/90505-0012.htm
Found by Elaine, forever vigilant on our behalfs. (Is that English?)
Disproportionate or what? This is what is coming next for all you stay at home mums with small children and all families during the summer holidays if you don't wake up and smell the coffee.
What if your child is dyslexic, the author of the report that would mean that this recommendation can be applied to home educators believes that given a suitable education all children should be reading autonomously at 8.
And if your children have special needs, especially if they are on the autistic spectrum, their behaviours and idiosyncrasies can look very like the government indicators of child abuse.
inappropriate dress, poor hygiene
Habit disorder (sucking, rocking, biting)
Neurotic traits (sleep disorders, inhibition of play)
Passive and aggressive - behavioral extremes
Delinquent behavior (especially adolescents)
Write to you MP now, make it clear that the government must not be allowed to invade our homes without reasonable suspicion of harm being done.
Defend the freedom to privacy in the home where there is no suspicion of crime and the notion that we are all innocent until proven guilty.
Give the government this power and you cannot control what it will be used for next.
Saturday, 13 June 2009
Listed here is a series of relevant quotes and the links to the original source if you want to read more.
It would be great if any good sites not included here could be listed in the comments.
‘By saying “I have nothing to hide,” you are saying that it’s OK for the government to infringe on the rights of potentially millions of your fellow Americans, possibly ruining their lives in the process. To me, the “I have nothing to hide” argument basically equates to “I don’t care what happens, so long as it doesn’t happen to me.”’
‘This is a version of the very popular “The innocent have nothing to fear” argument, which is wheeled out whenever authorities wish to bring in new measures which increase surveillance or limit freedoms in the name of increasing security. …
The argument is a particular species of false dichotomy. You are presented with a simple either/or choice. Either you’re guilty, and so should be exposed; or you are innocent, in which case nothing will be exposed, and so you have nothing to worry about. Either way, you have no legitimate reason to be concerned. Like all false dichotomies, the problem is that there is at least one more option than the two offered in the either/or choice.
In the case of “The innocent have nothing to fear” argument, the key point is usually that our objections have nothing to do with our guilt or innocence, but with our right to privacy. We don’t want to be scrutinised at every turn because constant scrutiny is an intrusion into our privacy. Consider, for example, that what we get up to in our bedrooms may be nothing to be ashamed of, but most of us still wouldn’t want others to stand around and watch. Potential voyeurs would not have a very strong case if they simply said, “Why not let us look? Doing something you shouldn’t be?” “The innocent have nothing to fear” is therefore usually an example of a red herring: the fact that we are not doing anything wrong is beside the point.’
‘This particular myth remains plausible only when it is repeated as a mantra and considered at the most shallow level, or not considered at all.
Less than one lifetime ago, that is to say within the memory of people still alive, certain governments incarcerated groups of their citizens and, in some cases, systematically destroyed them. The nations in which these evils occurred were not at the bottom of the civilized scale but, on the contrary, the nations concerned were considered highly developed, civilized, organized, industrialized, and were not altogether unlike Britain.’
‘If you have nothing to hide, why do you need privacy? This question, famously attributed to the McCarthy era, has gained currency again in this era of terrorism and national security. The question implies that privacy is a form of dishonesty, that the things people want to hide are the very things others should know about.’
‘The assumption behind the "if you have nothing to hide" claim is that the authorities will always be benign, will always reliably identify and interfere with genuinely bad people only, will never find themselves engaging in "mission creep" with more and more uses to put their new powers and capabilities to, will not redefine crimes, and even various behaviours or views now regarded as acceptable, to extend the range of things for which people can be placed under suspicion - and so considerably on.
It is all or some of naive, lazy and irresponsible not to be maximally vigilant regarding civil liberties and human rights, because it is a datum that the liberties of individuals are inconvenient for all states and their security services, and in dispensations where there are few if any restraints (think the Soviet Union, or even today's Russia - and China) it is liberty which quickly and comprehensively suffers.’
‘"Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" is a myth, a fallacy, a trojan horse wheeled out by those who can't justify their surveillance schemes, databases and privacy invasions. It is an argument that insults intelligent individuals and disregards the reality of building and operating an IT system, a business or even a government. If ever you hear someone at a dinner party crank out this old chestnut, grab your coat, make your apologies, run fast and run far. And as William has said before, I wouldn't want to be stuck at a dinner party next to someone who has nothing to hide - imagine how dull that would be.’
‘I contend, like Dewey, that the value of protecting the individual is a social one. Society involves a great deal of friction, and we are constantly clashing with each other. Part of what makes a society a good place in which to live is the extent to which it allows people freedom from the intrusiveness of others. A society without privacy protection would be suffocating, and it might not be a place in which most would want to live. When protecting individual rights, we as a society decide to hold back in order to receive the benefits of creating the kinds of free zones for individuals to flourish.’
‘John Catt has not been convicted of anything and on a trip to London, the pensioner found himself pulled over by an anti-terror unit.
"I was threatened under the Terrorist Act. I had to answer every question they put to me, and if there were any questions I would refuse to answer, I would be arrested. I thought to myself, what kind of world are we living in?"Sussex police would not talk about the case.’
It is usual to publish such things, why has this not been published?
Friday, 12 June 2009
12 June 2009
Dear Mr Reed
Review of Elective Home Education
We wish to seek your support in opposing the reforms to current practice proposed by Graham Badman in his “Report to the Secretary of State on the Review of Elective Home Education in England” for the following reasons:
1. The Review fails to make a case for its recommendations. The Secretary of State says it contains strong arguments, but there is, in fact, little argument supported by evidence in the review. We would have welcomed a well argued, evidence based review, as this would have enabled an engagement. Instead there is assertion, but little analysis and evidence – for instance, the review simply says ‘I believe …’ 16 times.
2. The review lacks intellectual rigour, independence or impartiality. Where evidence is presented there is an absence of critical analysis, together with highly selective use of quotations from respondents. Thus it includes without comment a lengthy, and somewhat naïve, quotation from the Education Division of the Church of England, but does include a quote from a home educator which is less than complimentary about local authority staff. The use of quotations is not ‘neutral’, they serve to highlight certain views merely by their inclusion.
3. Evidence on abuse by home educators – a key argument used to justify action (see below) - is absent from the review report. Somewhat surprisingly given the review’s terms of reference there is no analysis of the actual number of suspected and found child abuse cases involving home educators. Indeed, there are no robust figures or trends presented (even at an aggregated level), instead there is a vague reference to ‘local authority evidence and case studies’. Thus it is impossible to tell whether the concerns about possible child abuse are based in fact or merely imagined.
The review rightly points out that the number of parents opting for elective home education is unknown. Yet it also claims that ‘the number of children known to children’s social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to their home educating population’. But given that the size of the home education population is unknown, it is impossible to calculate the proportion, unless these councils have made up a base for the calculation; in effect the statement is meaningless.
4. This lack of evidence and analysis is compounded by the absence of expertise amongst the review panel. In the absence of evidence, some degree of confidence in the review’s judgements might rest on the expertise of those involved. They could perhaps be forgiven for simply making assertions if they had expertise or relevant professional knowledge of the subject matter. Unfortunately this is not the case. No home educating parent was on the review team. This does not accord with a Government that wishes to listen to the public and empower them.
Combined with our first point, this undermines the legitimacy of the review – why should what appears to be no more that the prejudices of this group of people be imposed upon the home education community?
5. Furthermore the recommendations are not logically consistent with review’s limited evidence.
a. The review says that many LAs are not performing adequately, but then recommends they have more powers. Without an analysis of why they are failing it would seem inappropriate to give them more powers; this would simply create problems and maladministration claims for the future.
b. The review recognises the diversity of home educators, but fails to take this in to account in its ‘one size fits all’ recommendations
6. A key statement from the review, informing its recommendations is:
“The question is simply a matter of balance and securing the right regulatory regime within a framework of legislation that protects the rights of all children, even if in transaction such regulation is only necessary to protect a minority.”
This guiding ‘principle’ is presented with no provisos or limits. It is highly risk adverse position, and assumes that all parents are capable of abuse. This leads to recommendations that are disproportionate and even the Secretary of State is wary of the cost implications.
Indeed, it logically follows from this that parents of all pre-school children must be registered and inspected annually; even that visits are required of children attending school during vacations.
You also need to know that the review was poorly conducted – for example:
• It was announced as a consultation on the consultation website then when it was pointed out that it was not compliant with the Consultation Code of Practice it suddenly became a review;
• The review outcome was partially pre-judged in advance, Graham Badman, author of the review, publicly said as much when he asserted the status quo could not remain long before the review was completed; and
• The on-line questionnaire used to gather home educators and others’ views was badly designed involving leading and poorly constructed questions.
In addition, the review process has angered and alienated many home educators. The review report and the Secretary of State highlight the importance of there being good relationships with home educators. However, the review has undermined this objective; it has even been counterproductive. Many home educators are now opting out of any involvement with their local authorities after many years of effort to improve relationships with them.
We realise that policy on home education is probably seen as part of the ‘backwater’ of political debate in Parliament, and that at present other issues have higher media and public profile. However, the home education community is a vocal and organised, if disparate, group, and you might like to advise your colleagues to take an interest in this issue as it has the potential to generate some very adverse publicity for the party.
The review report can be found at:
If you or a member of your staff require more information or details of sources, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Prof. Bruce Stafford
Mrs Maire Stafford.
Thursday, 11 June 2009
"The need to choose, to sacrifice
some ultimate values to others,
turns out to be a permanent
characteristic of the human
Says it all really.
Link to the review
and Ed Balls response
Now off to read the grizzly detail.
Read the rest of this very well argued defence of home education here
Thank you Renegade Parent
for the link.
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Yanked and distributed as requested from here
with the title slightly altered for younger eyes.
I'm possibly not the only person it'll occur to, due to ideaspace, and I hope it goes far and wide anyway.
Right. Here goes:
1. The BNP winning European parliament seats means they have a budget to employ staff and various sub-contractors.
2. These budgets and staff positions are subject to anti-discrimination laws, as they come from public funds.
3. Watch out for when these positions are advertised. If anyone sees them advertised, chuck the ads about on as many social networks, blogs etc as possible.
4. Man the Harpoons - If you fall outside of the BNP's discriminatory membership criteria, due to being black, Jewish, whatever, apply. If you are white British and want to help out this plan anyway, just spread the idea about.
5. When you/they don't get the job, take it to an employment tribunal.
Even if you're not especially bothered about taking the BNP to an employment tribunal, spreading this idea about, and forcing them to consider it and raaage over how unfair to the poor ickle racialists it is, it's still funny.
You can also sign a Notinmyname petition here
at Hope Not Hate.
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
read the rest here