Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Write to your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

Ian Appleby has composed an excellent letter to send to prospective parliamentary candidates in your area.

Dear $candidate

I am a home educating parent in Hebden Bridge. Whilst I am not exactly a single issue voter, the ability to ensure my children’s wellbeing and learning in the way best suited to their age, aptitude and ability is obviously of great importance to me, and will be a major factor in how I decide to vote. Can I ask where you stand on home education?
In particular, what is your opinion of the Badman Review, and Clause 26 and Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill now awaiting further scrutiny in the House of Lords? Do you in fact believe that new legislation in one form or another is necessary? If so, what form do you think that should take, and what are your grounds for believing so?
There is a thriving home education community in the Calder Valley, and I know many people will be interested in your reply. I intend to ask the same question to all the candidates, and I would like to make all the responses public on my blog:
I look forward to hearing from you.

Read more here.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The DCSF are going to Investigate us

DfES Research - Programme of Research

2010001 DCSF: Home Education - A Feasibility Study of the Educational Experience and Attainment of Home-Educated ChildrenTendered  Tendered

Expected start date 12-May-2010
Invitations to tender sent out: week-commencing - 6 March 2010

DCSF intends to commission a study to investigate the.feasibility of embarking on a longitudinal project investigating the provision of teaching and learning for, and the attainment of, home-educated children.

The overarching aim of the feasibility study will be to

- A small-scale investigation at LA-level to assess numbers of home-educated children known to them

- Research with voluntary organisations to establish number and type of children known to them

- Research with families who home educate

It is anticipated that the project will start in April 2010

DfES ObjectiveClose the gap in educational achievement for children from disadvantaged backgrounds
Key Research Priority
DfES Project ManagerJohn Screeton

Close the gap in educational achievement for children from disadvantaged backgrounds 

This is particularly disgusting and disingenuous as research clearly shows that those on the lower socio economic scale benefit most from home education, unlike their peers in schools who are almost without fail let down.

Well Screeton does not have the the connotations that Badman and Balls have but I wonder who he is?  Could this be him?  There is a John Screeton on here.  He was doing this in October, so yet another schooly mindset methinks, not promising.

I do hope that the DCSF will not find a home education voluntary organisation willing to help them with this project, they have used up every ounce of good will they ever had this last 14 months and even yesterday Ed Balls was continuing to spout the completely false Khyra connection to the uninformed British public on netmums.  He knows that we know that he has known since before the Badman Review was launched that home education wasn't the issue

'But in the small minority of cases where there are concerns about the safety and welfare of a home educated child it is important that the child's welfare comes first. In the tragic case of Khyra Ishaq, it is clear that concerns about her welfare after she was home educated were not properly pursued by either the school authorities or children's services. It was following her tragic death that I asked Graham Badman to do his Review and I think his recommendations are fair and right.'

To be still smearing us in this way after being thoroughly debunked shows that he does not give a damn for our good opinion or our votes and he certainly does not deserve our cooperation in any form.

I also hope that families will not feel the need to cooperate, Danae makes the argument against, pointing out that the results will be skewed by the reluctance of most families to participate and that a fair and honest piece of research is unlikely in our experience anyway.    mum6kids of Thinking Love wonders 'how on earth do they expect home ed families to forget what has been said and done and just go along with it?!'  And Kelly points out the dangers of the wrong sort of research while promoting research after our own heart at The Art of Survival.

Well we have had enough of them, they have stolen enough of our time, I hope the need for blogging here will reduce dramatically while the desire to blog here will blossom as I return my energy to where it belongs, home educating.

Maggie Atkinson again

Here.  Like Tech I feel sick.

And here, read his next post as well, it is brilliant.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Update on Complaint to the Information Commissioner

We have received a response to our request for internal review of the refusal of our freedom of information requests.  I was not expecting anything other than this and requesting this internal review was just a formality that was required before the Information Commissioner could take forward our complaint.

Dear Mr McNally

The DCSF have upheld their original decision about my FOI requests on internal review.  I am forwarding the email I received from them as I believe this is what is necessary to reopen my complaint about the handling of my requests DCSF reference numbers: 2009/0067849; 2009/0074942; 2009/0074943; 2009/0090673; and 2009/0090678 .

I am still a little confused about the numbers and hope I have sent this to the correct person.  Apologies if I have not and please could you forward it to the correct person or let me know where it should go.

Please could you also confirm that you will be able to take account of the letter you received about this matter from Ciaran McHale.

Please can you also confirm that the case will be reopened and that this request has reached the right person.

Thank you

Maire Stafford
From: []
Sent: 10 March 2010 15:59

Dear Ms Stafford,

DCSF reference numbers: 2009/0067849; 2009/0074942; 2009/0074943; 2009/0090673; and 2009/0090678 

I refer to your request for an internal review which was received on 12 January  2010. You indicated that:

‘Following discussion with the Information Commissioner’s Office, we wish to ask for an internal review of all our outstanding information requests where the Department has sought an exemption under Section 14.‘  
The Department has now completed its internal review process and has carried out a thorough review of the case, chaired by a senior officer who was not involved with the original request. The review carefully considered the annex to your request.

The Department has decided to uphold the original decision to engage section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act (the Act), for the same reasons set out in the letter of 13 November 2009.

The review noted that there had been delays in dealing with the requests which are the subject of your complaint and other requests which you made. The delays were considerable in some cases and certainly beyond the deadline required by the Act for responses. I would like to apologise on behalf of the Department for this.

If you are unhappy with this decision, you have the right to appeal directly to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

            The Case Reception Unit
            Customer Service Team
Information Commissioner’s Office
            Wycliffe House
            Water Lane
            SK9 5AF

Further information about the Information Commissioner’s complaints procedure can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website:

Yours sincerely

Ian Adkin
Deputy Director
Chief Information Officer Group

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?

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