Thursday, 11 March 2010

How much does every child matter?

In collaboration with Elaine Kirk.

The DCSF claim to care so much about the rights of home educated children that they are prepared to spend millions in an attempt to prevent them from coming to harm; on a programme of visiting, interviewing them alone to make sure their voice is heard (of course not if they say they don’t want any of this, then their parents must be manipulating them) and ensuring that their education is state approved.  So children must matter a lot to this government, yes?

However there are some anomalies.

Some you may breathe a sigh of relief about these, the government have left some element of society free for its citizens to use their judgement and make up their own mind.

Take childcare:

'You do not have to register with us in the following cases.
If you care for children who are aged eight and over.
If you provide care where a child does not stay with you for more than two hours a day, even if your childcare service is open for longer than two hours.
If you only care for a child or children aged under eight who you are related to. A relative means a grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother or sister of a child (or half-brother or sister) or someone you are related to through marriage or civil partnership.
If you care for children aged under eight on domestic premises as a childminder without receiving any payment or reward for your services. Domestic premises can be your own home or someone else’s home.
If you are a foster carer for the children.
If you provide care for children in their own home. This includes caring for children of up to two sets of parents completely or mainly in one or both sets of parents’ homes. However, you need to register as a childminder if you look after the children of three sets of parents in any or all of the parents’ homes.

And there are many more instances of lack of a need to register to look after OTHER PEOPLE’S children.

So parents feeling the need to go back to work will be able to pick an unregistered childminder and the child may well be making their own way between the school and the childminder’s home.  

In fact there is no onus on working parents of 8+ to use childcare at all, so many children could be spending hours in their own homes or out and about with no supervision at all.

And where I live nearly all secondary school children walk three miles there and back to one or other of the two secondary schools.  Now thank goodness that parents are still allowed to let their children do this, apart from the fresh air and exercise they experience self sufficiency, independence and social time as they mostly but not always travel in groups  They must be exposed to many unchecked adults though.  

And you can be responsible for the care of the children of two families with no registration at all, yet once children reach compulsory education age the government want to insist that PARENTS have to be registered to be with their own children between the times 9am and 3pm!

But even schools are not yet as tightly wrapped up in safeguarding regulation as you might think.

[B]  The VBS: when schools and FE colleges don’t need to CRB-check

[11]  DCSF’s regular weekly email to all Local Authorities in England dated 17 December 2009 included a reminder, co-ordinated between DCSF, Ofsted, the TDA and the CRB, about when schools and FE colleges don’t need to do CRB checks (which also in part refers to the new Scheme), at: .

This message makes clear that:
• there is no requirement for CRB checks on pre-2002 recruits
• there is no requirement for repeat CRB checks on a school or FE college’s own existing staff
• schools and FE colleges don’t have to see CRB checks on trainee teachers
• there is no reason now to do 'interim' CRB checks on pre-2002 recruits (or re-check post-2002 recruits), pending the introduction of the VBS. Schools and FE colleges should wait until the Government recommends those staff become ISA-registered, as part of the managed roll out of the scheme, from 2011 onwards.
Similarly, schools and FE colleges should not require CRB checks on volunteers, such as those from business who come to help with work-related learning, unless they are new, and their volunteering is regular and involves contact with children; or in the case of existing volunteers, if the school or FE college has cause for concern.

But maybe these are just anomalies and as the government care so much about children they must make sure that they are very safe in their own schools yes?  Ok a bit of sarcasm slipped through there, we all know about bullying by staff and children and the mismanagement or outright neglect of children with special needs.  In fact this endemic mismanagement and misunderstanding of children with special needs is precisely how we began our joyous and rewarding journey into the home educating lifestyle.  But a group of children that I had not considered before has recently been brought to my notice.  Children with diabetes; how are their needs met in school?

I have found the following document enlightening and so might you, here is a quote!

"Ella was four when she was diagnosed and at an otherwise excellent primary school. However we were told that school would not get involved with blood tests or injections and on one occasion Ella became so hypoglycaemic that she started to fall unconscious and her head fell onto the desk. The teacher wouldn’t do anything to help Ella, as she was not willing to use Ella’s blood test monitor. If one of my friends had not been in the classroom by sheer chance and taken it upon herself to work out how to test Ella, I dread to think what would have happened.
Even after this happened and with Ella suffering from frequent debilitating hypos, school would not get involved so I had to go into school every lunchtime to check on Ella and inject her if necessary. I also never went more than fifteen minutes drive from the school at any time Ella was in their care in case I was needed"

So if government don’t always need crb/registration/oversight of strangers looking after children and if they allow diabetic children to be at severe risk in state schools, why do they suggest that the monitoring and licensing of many perfectly well functioning families is essential and worthwhile?  Graham Badman even used the fallacy if it saves just one child in front of the Children Schools and Families Bill Committee to explain their insistence.  But what of these diabetic children for whom they actually are responsible, what is their thinking in letting these situations continue?  Surely the money should go first to prevent the awful neglect and endangering of diabetic children in schools and others like them. 

Are they honest when they claim that controlling home educators for the sake of the child is essential, or could they have some other agenda? 

What do you think?


Amanda said...

Same applies to children with peanut allergy. Teachers allegedly won't use an epipen, so some parents have actually gone into school and stayed there all day, every day in case their child had anaphylactic shock.

And the question that immediately came to mind given that situation was, why on Earth hadn't that parent removed their child from school?

This sort of thing happens because these laws have no link to child welfare. They're about giving a good impression to cursory examination and avoiding legal liability. Oh, and getting people back into wage-slavery ASAP.

Anonymous said...

Someone in my local area with a diabetic child has had similar problems with ensuring that the school does the appropriate tests and provides the appropriate dosages of insulin. She has ended up 'flexi-schooling', with the child in school in the mornings and at home in the afternoon (this also allows him to rest, if tired).

I say 'flexi-schooling' in quotes, because she has had endless meetings and is continuously fighting the system to get the afternoon absences approved. The school and LA are continuously pushing for the child to be in school full-time despite the fact that they can't care properly for him.


Anonymous said...

I worked in FE for a while and one of my jobs was to visit the local primary schools and teach a basic first aid course to the support staff there. No qualified teachers ever attended the courses.
I would always phone ahead and ask if there were any special situations that they would like me to talk on as well as the basics; that would include diabetic care for example. One school requested that I explain sickle cell and thas to them.
So off I went and I did the teaching.
Now this school had a number of children diagnosed with SC and Thas. It's a painful and exhausting condition.
Staff had no understanding of the disease at all and had forced children to keep going and had been frankly cruel (unknowingly) to them when they were cold and in pain and very tired.
I suppose I should be grateful that they asked for the teaching at all.

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