Tuesday, 24 November 2009

I am the Very Model of a Pirate Finder General

I am the very model of a Pirate Finder General
My remit runs from a to z, from animal to mineral
The government has issued me with pow’rs plenipotentiary
To seize you and to pack you off to any penitentiary

I’m perfectly remorseless in pursuit of things piratical
I’m always in the office and I never take sabbaticals
You’d be amazed at all the powers that are vested in this entity
To compromise your systems and reveal your identity.

The doctrine of Fair Use I condemn as quite erroneous
And probably harmful if not actively felonious
And though my own position may in time prove quite ephemeral
For now I am the model of a Pirate Finder General

I’m not above resorting to intrusive tricks and hackery
If I chance to be confronted by a lock to which I lack a key
I recognize no boundaries either moral or international
At times my hate for piracy approaches the irrational

I interpret legal precedents with admirable latitude
For which my true employers never fail to show their gratitude
I’m a salaried employee of a corp’rate aristocracy
In fact, my mere existence makes a nonsense of democracy

I exist to serve the interests of a privileged minority
By whom I have been granted quite extraordinary authority
My jurisdiction ranges from the local to the federal
In short, I am the model of a Pirate Finder General

There is more here!

Alternative Twelve days of Christmas

Dear Mr Partridge,

Kindly retire to your pear tree and take the following with you:

2 awful clauses
3 DCSF ministers
4 home ed reviews
5 ECM outcomes
6 hour meetings
7 section, ignored
8 quangos a milking
9 LAs dancing (to your tune)
10 lords in ermine
11 Badman advisors
12 years of SIs

Thanks Lynn

The State I'm In

I am a very visual person, which explains somewhat why I cannot always find the most diplomatic words with which to express myself.

As the attack on home educators grinds remorselessly on

in spite of no evidence to support it,

inspite of many articulate and intelligent arguments against it.

In spite of the consultation analysis being unpublished and a promise made to take this into account

In spite of the DCSF select committee report being as yet unpublished

I have developed a mental image of my self that guards the door to my house

it used to look like this

but since the publication of this it has undergone metamorphosis and I now looks like this.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A Pause to Reflect

What has amazed me over the last few days is how quickly the superb and hitherto unforeseen collaboration between home educators has collapsed into argument and uncertainty.  Badman and Balls must be rubbing their hands together with glee!

I admit to being one of the ones who impulsively blogged the notice to parliament and I still like it, but as others have pointed out, we do not know where it came from and now may not be the right time for it yet.

As the Minister says, we must make our own minds up.

I do not have my answer and I am stopping to pause and reflect, I have enough to do really composing my reply to that lovely letter from the DCSF.  I may well wait to see what Lisa comes up with as I love her way of thinking and way with words.

I have not let go of the vision I have of this whole thing being dropped and intend to do everything I can to let the ptb see that it is really not worth their while.

And to cheer us all up, a new life.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Notice of Refusal to Cooperate

Notice of refusal to co-operate
This is urgent, and requires active participation by all Home Educators. Please read and forward to all Home Educators and Home Ed lists that you belong to.
This act is not in competition with or an attack against any Home educated person or Home Education organisation. Now is not the time for an Home Education civil war. We need to deal with the real threat first, then try to resolve conflict within the Home Ed community later. OUR STRENGTH IS NOT ONLY IN OUR CONVICTIONS IT IS ALSO IN OUR NUMBERS.

The Badman recommendations have generated a great deal of fear within the Home Education community; but the threat is an illusion. If we ALL refuse to cooperate nothing will happen - they will NOT come for you and your children. Their power over us is based on our own fear.
This is a declaration to parliament, putting them on notice that they should not add the recommendations of the Graham Badman Report into new law, and that we will not co-operate with any such law should they dare to enact it.
If you agree with what it says, select all the text between the dividers, copy the text to a new document, print it, sign it or otherwise make your mark on it, and then send it to your MP. Then forward this entire message to any Home Educators and parents that you know and urge them to do the same. You may disseminate this public notice to anyone and any place you think will help it gain momentum.
Whether you are involved in the petition or any other initiative makes no odds. Use this to deluge your MPs and show them once and for all that we are united!
To find your MP's address use this site: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Notice of Refusal to Co-operate

WHEREAS the recommendations of the GRAHAM BADMAN REVIEW OF ELECTIVE HOME EDUCATION have been accepted in full by the Secretary of State.

AND that these grossly disproportionate recommendations hold serious implications for the civil liberties of parents, children and families in this country.

AND that these recommendations place primary responsibility for assessing the suitability of education and the welfare of the child on the state, rather than the parent - with no prior evidence that either is unsatisfactory prior to this grossly intrusive intervention.

AND that the recommendations of the review assumes that the home is an inherently unsafe or unhealthy place for the child to be.

AND that these recommendations undermine the role of the parent and trample over family freedoms in its haste to set parent and child up against each other, bestowing additional and selective "rights" on home educated children that only the government can adequately minister to.

AND that these recommendations destroy the very possibility of true autonomy in learning.

AND that these recommendations operate from a position of requiring proof of parental innocence rather than reasonable suspicion of guilt.

AND that these recommendations discriminatorily use the coercive and interventionist tools of parental licensing, warrantless entry to the home, inspection according to arbitrary external standards, and an unconscionable new power to interrogate the child without the parents present.

AND that the outcome of these recommendations will be horribly discriminatory to a minority community, the measures eventually having to apply to anyone who has their child at home with them: parents with under 5s, those whose children attend private school, and also those with school-aged children who are at home in the evenings, over the weekends, and throughout the summer holidays.

AND that the outcome of these inspections will be based on the very human whim and prejudices of a local authority officer, who will have the power to destroy the life and education that that parent has conceived for his or her child.

AND that if the government is to avoid further discrimination it also stands to reason that each child who attends school must be given the same "rights" as home educated children - to "have their voices heard" regarding whether or not they are happy to be educated in school, whether they are satisfied with their teachers and whether they feel safe in such an environment.

WE ACCEPT that it is right that appropriate and proportionate action, as currently outlined in the law, may be taken to rectify a situation if there are serious concerns about a child's welfare, observing that a child being at home with its parents is not, and never has been, in and of itself a child welfare issue.

AND HEREBY RESOLVE that any such utterly disproportionate legislation if passed will fundamentally alter the relationship between citizen and state, and would constitute a fundamental violation of our rights,

AND that any such legislation is illegitimate on its face.

NOW UNDERSTAND that by this declaration, Parliament is PUT ON NOTICE that I and others will not co-operate with any such legislation, and strongly caution you not to consider, debate, or enact any such legislation.
Signed _______________________________

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Worries about the Petition

I have lifted this directly from Sally at Happy@Home as I have been too upset and angry to pull together such a superb summary.

I’m suspicious for a number of reasons:
  • The website won’t allow you to read the petition before signing to coordinate it in your constituency.
  • The page gives no author and doesn’t link in from anywhere that would give you insight as to who the author is.
  • I have heard that signing up generates a thank you from an EO trustee and that the page origin is EO owned.
  • I don’t like the potential inference that registration is acceptable.
  • I especially don’t like this inference in the light of no Tories being willing to say outright that they will not impose regulation.
  • There is only hear-say to indicate that Graham Stuart MP is anything to do with it.  There is nothing on his own website to indicate anything about it.  There is nothing on the petition website to indicate his involvement.
  • What’s the sudden hurry?  It is putting pressure on people to sign and coordinate before they have had time to discuss and think about it.
  • It was said that AHED were involved.  Apparently they were not, but maybe members of the list (who didn’t have remit to speak on behalf of members) were?  Maybe the same with other organizations such as HEAS.
  • The only info people are working from is a release made by EO on the EO list and pasted wholesale into Dare To Know, and onto other lists.  There is no opportunity given to scrutinize behind this release because the petition wording was being kept secret so that people didn’t take it upon themselves to print it off and duplicate it within constituencies without someone coordinating each constituency.  Well, that’s what we are told.  The release by EO doesn’t give the contentious parts of the petition that have come out on lists subsequently.  Dare to Know (which I’m used to trusting and relying upon) didn’t give the whole petition wording, but that wasn’t obvious until I saw the whole of it on a list.
  • There is too much scope for duplicity.
  • The petition leaves the route open for another review.  We don’t want/need another review.  We’ve had so many.  We need to work with the 2007 one.  Maybe some research would be useful, but I wouldn’t trust anything from the Government, who are out to suppress and undermine home education.
  • Is it John Holt who said about lifting plants constantly to see if the roots are growing?  Maybe research is also intrusive?
There is some talk about simplified or improved wording on Ahed and Brag but would Graham Stuart be accomodating with that, do we need him to be or do we approach it more independently?

This could have been such a good thing if handled in a different manner, at the moment I am just so sad about it I feel almost like giving up.

Friday, 13 November 2009

The DCSF refuse to answer any of my Fois despite delaying for five months on some

Sanctuary Buildings
i(re                              department for                                                                                             Great Smith Street
children, schools and families                                                   Westminster
London, SW1P 3BT
Ms M Stafford                                             Email: andrew.partridgedscf.osi.00v.uk
13 November 2009
Dear Ms Stafford,
Your FOI and other communications with the Department
I am writing in response to your requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) and related communications dated 28 July, 27 August (2 emails), 28 August, 9 September, 10 September, 19 September (2 emails), 25 September, 26 September, and 26 October (2 emails) 2009.
2.  1 write to advise you that, other than in relation to any outstanding internal reviews of freedom of information responses which have already been sent to you, the Department will not be complying with your current requests relating to home education, nor further responding to your communications on the matter. It will deaf with freedom of information requests relating to any other matter in accordance with its obligations.
3.                The 'exemption which applies to your requests is section 14 of the Act which provides for information to be exempt from disclosure where the request for information is vexatious, or where the request is substantially similar to earlier requests and a reasonable interval has not elapsed.
4.                The Department has reviewed the volume, timing and content of the requests you have made to us under the Act and other related communications, including postings on the website Whatdotheyknow.com through which you have made your requests. It has considered your requests both cumulatively and on their individual merits under the Act. This process has meant further delay in your receiving a response to your requests, but that is inevitable in the circumstances.
5.                In reviewing the general pattern of your freedom of information requests and related correspondence I note that:
® since June 2009 you have submitted 15 requests on the subject of elective home education to the Department;

0 you have apparently submitted some 15 requests to other public authorities about elective home education via Whatdotheyknow.com; and
0 you have apparently added some 65 annotations to the requests submitted by others via VVhatdotheyknow.com, in several cases encouraging the requesters to apply for internal reviews and complain to the Information Commissioner. It is
open to you to do so, but the Department is also entitled to take this into account in considering the pattern of your requests.
6.The Department has not applied the section 12 cost threshold to any of your requests, as it has not been appropriate to do so, but it has calculated that the cost of handling the 10 of your requests it has already answered was not less than £3,300. It estimates that the cost of responding to your five current requests would be not less than £1375 (excluding the cost of this response).
7.This is a factor that the Department is entitled to take into account in assessing whether section 14 (1) is engaged. Section 14 (1) will be engaged where complying with the requests would impose a significant burden on a public authority in terms of expense and distraction.
8.Your outstanding requests and other communications are set out in Annex A to this letter.
Section 14(1)
9.The Department considers your requests vexatious for the reasons set out below.
10.  The Information Commissioner's guidance indicates that deciding whether a request is vexatious under section 14(1) of the Act is a flexible balancing exercise taking into account all the circumstances of the case. The Commissioner's guidance indicates that there is no rigid test or definition of the term, but it does provide a number of questions which guide public authorities in what they should consider:
·           Can the request fairly be seen as obsessive?
·           is the request harassing the authority or causing distress to staff?
·           Would complying with the request impose a significant burden?
·           Is the request designed to cause disruption or annoyance?
·           Does the request lack any serious purpose or value?
11. Taking the Commissioner's questions individually, the Department does not consider that your outstanding requests, or indeed the pattern of your requests as a whole, can definitively be described as obsessive. The Department recognises that elective home education is an issue which is of considerable concern to you, and it respects those who wish to clarify issues of public interest via freedom of information requests.

12. Nor does the Department consider that your requests lack any serious purpose or value.
13. The Department does not take a view about whether your requests are designed to cause disruption or annoyance — while that might appear to be the case from some of your communications and annotations to requests on to VVhatdotheyknow.com, the Department recognises that some of these interventions may result from frustration at delays in receiving a response from the Department
14. The Department does consider that your requests are imposing a significant burden in terms of expense to a publicly-funded authority, and in terms of the distraction of its officials away from other pressing business and non-vexatious requests. It considers that it is not reasonable, and therefore not in the wider public interest, for the Department to continue to devote substantial public resources to answering your requests. In particular the Department has noted that the pattern of your requests and communications in Annex A is such that the requests, when answered, have led to further requests and complaints. Like other public authorities the Department has only finite resources at its disposal, and there are increasing pressures on those resources. It is therefore not a straightforward matter to redeploy staff to deal with your requests.
15. The Department also considers that your requests are - in the sense of the term as used by the Information Commissioner - 'harassing' the Department and causing distress to staff. The Commissioner's guidance makes clear that the requester's intention is not the issue — it is an objective test in which a reasonable person must be likely to regard the request as harassing or distressing. Examples of this are provided in Annex B to this letter:
16. The Department has also noted:
· the availability of ample other opportunities and means to communicate views or concerns to the Government and to the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee: for example by contributing to the Review of Elective Home Education, by responding to the subsequent consultation on changes to the existing statutory arrangements, and lastly through the open invitation to make a submission to the select committee itself;
· the fact that of ten responses sent to you by the Department six provided the
information you requested in full and one in part, in two cases the information was not held, and in one it was reasonably accessible by other means and drawn to your attention:
·              the fact that of some 107 FOI requests received by the Department between
11 June and 27 October 2009 about elective home education, 74 (69%) were from a small group of nine FOI requesters, including yourself, in several instances apparently acting in concert via the website VVhatdotheyknow.com, as evidenced at Annex C. This is in the context of an estimated 20,000 home educated children in England;

that the apparent campaign to inundate the Department with FOI requests about elective home education has been contemporary with the vilification and harassment on the Internet of the author of the review of elective home education and others by unknown persons. Indeed the level of the requests generally on this matter and the nature of the postings on the Internet were such that it was felt necessary to write to the Information Commissioner's Office earlier this year:
The Department is not suggesting that you have participated in any vilification or harassment of the author of the report, but those activities are pertinent to the climate surrounding the review — with which the FOI requests were concerned.
17.  The Department notes the Commissioner's advice that if a request forms part of a wider campaign or pattern of requests, the serious or proper purpose must justify both the request itself and the lengths to which the campaign or pattern of behaviour has been taken. As I have said, the Department does not question your serious and proper purpose in making the requests. But the Department does not consider that this justifies the pattern of behaviour described above. Nor, given the several opportunities to contribute constructively to the public debate on this issue, does the Department consider that the requests are necessarily justified in themselves.
18.  The Department is not suggesting that each of your requests is necessarily vexatious in itself, but having taken careful account of the pattern of your
correspondence with the Department, interventions on the website
Whatdotheyknow.com, and the guidance provided by the Information Commissioner on the matter, I have concluded that your requests are vexatious in the sense of the Act.
Section 14 (2)
19.  Section 14(2) of the Act provides that, where a public authority has previously complied with a request from a person, it is not obliged to comply with a subsequent substantially similar one from that person unless a reasonable interval has elapsed between the two. The Department has looked at the pattern of your correspondence and your latest requests which in broad terms are all about the same or a substantially similar issue, and takes the view based on the evidence before it that this part of the exemption at section 14 is also engaged.
20.   In all the circumstances, and given the analysis above, the Department does not consider that it is reasonable or in the wider public interest for it to devote any further

public resources to answering the requests, or other correspondence, which are the subject of this letter.
21.  The Department will always seek to meet the legitimate rights of requesters to information, but in all the circumstances of the case it must also take into account the need for public servants and other individuals to be able to conduct legitimate business in the public interest without harassment or harm.
22.  While the Department will consider any future request under the Freedom of Information Act on its individual merits, if it concerns elective home education you are advised that it will be considered against the background of this letter
23.  If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your requests and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision, you should write to, or email; me within two calendar months of the date of this letter. Please remember to quote the reference numbers (at the foot of this letter) in any future communications.
24.  If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner's Office for a decision. Generally, the Commissioner will not make a decision unless you have exhausted the Department's own internal review procedure.
25.  Finally, I apologise for the length of this letter. As well as complying with its statutory duties, the Department wishes to ensure that you have a comprehensive explanation for the action it is taking.
Yours sincerely
Andrew Partridge
Information Rights Manager, DCSF
Ref: 2009/0067849; 2009/0074942: 2009/0074943; 2009/0090673: 2009/0090678

Summary of outstanding requests and other communications
·        2009/0067849 — 28 July 2009 — FOI request for a frequency distribution of the answers to two questions in a questionnaire sent to local authorities (LA) as part of the review of EHE, and numbers of serious case reviews.
·        2009/0074942 — 27 August 2009 — FOI request for identification of various LA in which there were reported a high proportion of EHE children in social care, and a low proportion of, or no, EHE children receiving suitable education.
·        2009/0074943 — 27 August 2009 — FOI request for further statistics relating to released information about safeguarding intervention.
·        2009/0075134 — 28 August 2009 - an amendment of the previous request.
·        2009/0077597 — 9 September 2009 - a question as to whether the Department was refusing to hold an internal review, and request for a review.
·        2009/0077887 — 10 September 2009 - complaint and allegation of intent to delay on the part of the Department.
·        2009/0079990 -19 September 2009 - complaint about an earlier response - taken into account in an internal review on 3 November.
·        2009/0080057 — 19 September 2009 - further complaint about the earlier response, including the suggestion that the Department should redeploy staff to avoid being seen as obstructive or stonewalling, the allegation that the Department had intentionally misunderstood, and provided misinformation.
·        2009/0081535 — 25 September 2009 - an allegation that the Department has lied in its answer that information was not held.
·        2009/0081887 — 26 September 2009 - request for an internal review.
·        2009/0090673 — 26 October 2009 — FOI request for clarification about an Annex
released earlier.
·        2009/0090678 — 26 October 2009 — FOI request for copies of analysis and documents relating to DCSF verification of a submission submitted to the Select Committee by Graham Badman.

Examples of communications and other factors which have harassed or distressed
o     an allegation (mentioned above in Annex A) that the Department has lied in its response to the effect that information was not held.
·         an allegation of intent to delay on the part of the Department — made on 10
September despite the fact that you were aware of the problems the Department
was experiencing. For example, in its response of 29 July, providing all the information you had requested on 13 June the Department offered the following apology for the delay:
Before answering your request l should like to apologise for the delay in replying. The Department is aware that it has missed the statutory
deadline for reply and is in breach of its obligations under the Act. I very much regret this - the Department should meet its obligations under the Act. While I appreciate that it is in no way a justification I should like to explain that the Department makes every effort to meet deadlines, but the delay in responding in this case has been due to the unusual volume of
requests the Department has received in recent months. The Information Commissioner has been informed of the situation.
m  the frequency of your requests and interventions, sometimes twice in the same day.
·           your apparent reluctance to quote the Departmental reference numbers in
correspondence, and your derogatory remarks about what you perceive to be the inability of Departmental staff to click on links e.g: 'Please accept my heartiest commiserations for your inability to click on a link like the rest of the population, it must be most disabling.' (30 September 2009)
http://wvvw.whatdotheyknow.comirecuest/more clarification of the data i#comment-5423
hftp://www.whatdotheyknow.com/requestia summary of the answers to
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/requestievidence in support of badma  ns r#incoming-44785
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/recluest/local authority responses to t he#comment-4956
·           your apparent annotations on requests on Whatdotheyknow.com which include:
o 'Four months to say no, such respect for it's masters the DCSF have, not!'
http://vvww.whatdotheyknow.com/request/home education review rec ommenda#comment-6310
o 'My suspicion is that it is that awkward word evidence that is giving them the problem.'

http://wvvw.whatdotheyknow.com/request/home education review rec ommenda#comment-5439
o     They are doing this regularly now, still not realised we are not stupid.' http://vvvvw.whatdotheyknow.com/requestimore clarification of the da to i#comment-5423
o     They have had more than enough time to conduct an internal review on this, I would refer it to the information commissioner.' http://www,whatdotheyknow.comirequest/communications with nektu  s#comment-5300
o     Not even an acknowledgement, how rude.' http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/requestinumber of foi requests ma  de conc#comment-5254
o    'you should ask for an internal review and if they don't do that refer to the information commissioner. There is a lot of stonewalling going on ' http://www.whatdotheyknow.comirequest/home education evidence  of curre#comment-5181
o    Tor goodness sake, Graham Badman has accused us of being abusers and knowingly allowed the press to slur us with false twice as likely claims. I also suspect allowed is a misnomer. The DCSF repeatedly refuse to release the evidence probably because they have none and you are getting upset because somebody called him a liar!' http://www.whatdotheyknow.comirequest/communications with infor mation#comment-5114
o    'Evil man'
http://vvvvw.whatdotheyknow.comirequest/comparative statistics requ ested#comment-3363

Instances of apparently acting in concert via the website Whatdotheyknovv.com
·            'I would take you complaint higher asap and also refer this to the information commissioner'
http://www.whatdothevknow.comireduest/elective home education and cone 4 #cornment-5802
n  'I would refer this straight to the information commissioner. I do not see how they
can say the data would harm people when SCRs are put in the public domain.'
http://vvww.whatdotheyknow.com/request/serious case review figures pr es#comment-5301
·       Mame] could you follow this up.'
http://vvww.whatdotheyknow.com/request/concerns about suitability of e I 14#comment-5216
·       `I have just sent out a general request for people to include the refusal to answer this question in their submission to the Select Committee.
Please anyone reading this who hasn't already done their submission, could you consider including this, and any others like it.'
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reduest/evidence in support of badma ns r#comment-5037
·       It is unclear whether this is referring to your initial request or your request for an internal review, whichever it is I would request another internal review immediately to prevent them giving themselves another 40 days and put the number in because in spite of the fact that they can as easily find the number as anyone else they will ask for it as another delaying tactic.'
http://www.whatdotheyknow.comfreduest/badman report conduct of the rev#comment-5035
·       'This can't be right, this is just part of your original request. I would refer to internal review, they must be trying it on.'


FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed